20 Dec 2007

High fuel prices hit Tonga

11:05 am on 20 December 2007

Higher fuel costs and rocketing food prices have contributed to stagnant retail sales in some parts of the Pacific in the lead up to Christmas.

In Tonga next to soaring food prices and high shipping costs, the riot last year contributed significantly to lost business and stagnating sales.

The chamber of commerce's vice president, Paul Taumoepeau, says it's noticable in all areas.

"Apart from the local food stock, we import a lot of stuff into the country. The New Zealand and Australian dollar have been getting stronger this year. That's having an impact, but also fuel is a bit expensive. But overall we're having a bit of a recession because of 16.11."

Paul Taumoepeau

The American Samoa chamber of commerce says the food and transport sectors in the territory have been affected in particular.

In the Cook Islands, however, a thriving tourism industry is having a positive effect on retailers, despite rising fuel costs.