New subsidy program targeted at Pacific exporters

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Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand (PTI NZ) has launched a new subsidy program that is aimed at to benefit Pacific exporters struggling with soaring freight costs.

The scheme is earmarked to support exporters across the Blue Pacific coping with the pandemic impact on transport sector fees.

The Freight Subsidy Programme (FSP) is a joint initiative between the Pacific Islands Forum and PTI NZ.

Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Henry Puna said that Pacific businesses were, at present, faced with considerable challenges attributed to the impact of COVID-19.

The FSP is a response to challenges shared by small to medium businesses, he said.

“Studies reveal the vulnerability of global supply chains and the risks which come with connectivity. Businesses face real limitations on airfreight capacity and volume due to restricted global passenger travel,” Mr Puna said.

“The Freight Subsidy Programme delivers on the Forum Economic and Trade Ministers’ mandate and the results of the initiative will also contribute towards the Pacific Supply Chain Study which the Secretariat will roll out in the coming weeks.

“We welcome this initiative and encourage Pacific exporters, particularly our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and women owned businesses to take advantage of the grant scheme.”

According to the PIF, the Freight Subsidy Programme offers eligible businesses grants of up to NZ$ 2500 per enterprise; and the program will be administered on a cost share basis – which means businesses will be required to match the grant money they receive.

PTI NZ Trade Commissioner Glynis Miller said the subsidies would provide welcome relief.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role and importance supply chains play in the success and resilience of businesses in the Blue Pacific economies,” Ms Miller said in the statement.

“We recognise that freight has been a significant pain point for exporters in the Blue Pacific through feedback from our regular conversations with clients and from respondents to our Pacific Business Monitor. While we cannot rectify this situation wholly, we can ease the pressure for some businesses in this area.

“To address this, we have developed the Freight Subsidy Programme, which will alleviate some of the pressures of supply chain constraints faced by exporters. The grant is not just limited to those exporting into the New Zealand or Australian markets, but to any international and intra-regional market.”

Applications are open until Friday, October 29 (2021); any applications will be reviewed against the eligibility criteria by a selection panel; and proof of business registration and export licence is a requirement.

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