16 Feb 2009

Fiji's exports slump - business leader says pay cuts or layoffs are likely

8:15 pm on 16 February 2009

Fiji's Chamber of Commerce says a decrease of more than 11 million US dollars in total exports last November is disappointing.

New figures released in the Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics' overseas merchandise trade report shows that of total exports, domestic exports decreased by 4.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, re-exports, which includes mostly petroleum products onsold to neighbouring Pacific Island countries as well as visiting ships and aircraft, slumped by a third.

The Chamber president, Swani Maharaj, says as a result, there could be pay cuts or job losses.

He says productivity has to be increased to achieve growth in domestic exports and re-exports.

"We need to grow more food and produce more milk for the domestic market so that imports are reduced. And we have capacity building locally. At the moment most of the products that we have, we are importing for tourist markets, can be produced locally."

Swani Maharaj says niche markets such as fish and organic vegetable and fruits should also be built up.