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Source: New Zealand Government

Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed Aotearaoa New Zealand is providing further economic support to the Pacific to strengthen economic resilience in response to the impact of COVID-19.

“The Pacific region is our home and there are so many links that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand. Our economic interests are also intertwined and we must continue to create mutual opportunities with our neighbours,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“The whole region has felt the economic impact of COVID-19, especially on our tourism and hospitality sectors. Businesses, workers and communities across the Pacific will take some time to recover and rebuild.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to keep working in partnership with Pacific nations on economic resilience. I am pleased to confirm that up to an additional NZ$75 million in additional economic support is provided in Budget 2022.

“This contingency funding can be drawn-down to continue economic support for Pacific countries should the need arise in 2022/23.

“Budget support is in line with Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Resilience Approach and demonstrates our respect for the sovereignty of Pacific countries. It has helped countries maintain core services and step-up their health responses in the face of reduced revenues due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The extra NZ$75 million contingency support is in addition to approximately NZ$325 million already provided for emergency budget support to countries impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19.

“While the Pacific is expected to return to growth in 2022, the recovery is likely to be slower than initially forecast. Many Pacific countries remain in the midst of their first COVID-19 outbreaks. A number still have tight border controls and other restrictions still in place.

“Due to the scale of the economic damage caused by COVID-19, the implications of ongoing supply chain disruptions, and a degree of uncertainty around international travel, it is likely to take several years before Pacific economies return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Our support through the pandemic has also seen us donate and fund with partners more than 1.349 million doses of vaccine to the Pacific. We have also provided PPE equipment and deepened our people partnerships with training and workforce development, in order to support vaccination programmes and laboratory infrastructure.

“In addition to health and vaccine support, New Zealand is also supporting other initiatives that contribute to economic resilience. These include improved access to advice and finance for small-medium businesses in the Cook Islands and supporting Fiji to implement reforms to improve the business and investment climate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented economic impact on the region and so New Zealand’s response has adjusted for these fiscal risks. Even as borders begin to reopen, Pacific countries will require additional financing to move back onto a resilience path.

“New Zealand has for many years worked with a number of Pacific countries on economic reform including the provision of budget support. This will continue as the wider region recovers and rebuilds,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

MIL OSI