The Import Price Conundrum: Fiji’s Economic Challenge

About 50 percent of Fiji’s consumption basket comprises imported products.

Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad highlighted this while discussing the difficulty in controlling import prices, which are influenced by international markets.

He noted that Fiji’s major trading partners, such as Australia, New Zealand, and the US, all faced high inflation rates due to global supply chain disruptions stemming from the pandemic.

“Australia’s inflation was 6.6 percent in 2022, the highest in 31 years, while New Zealand saw 7.2 percent, the highest in 34 years. The US experienced 8 percent, the highest in 40 years,” he informed Parliament.

“Given our trade links with these countries, it is natural that the price of imports from them would be higher, significantly impacting us since around 50 percent of our consumption basket is made up of imported items.

“I’m highlighting this because our people need to understand the situation, and many do. This also counters false claims made by some,” he said.

He also provided inflation figures for other comparable countries. In Mauritius, inflation was 10.8 percent in 2022, 7 percent in 2023, and is projected at 5.9 percent in 2024.

Prof Prasad explained that Vanuatu recorded inflation of 6.7 percent in 2022, 12 percent in 2023, and a forecast of 6.7 percent for 2024. Tonga had inflation of 8.5 percent in 2022, 10.2 percent in 2023, and an expected 5.4 percent in 2024.

“Our inflation rate in Fiji stood at 5.1 percent at the end of last year and had peaked around 7.1 percent in April this year.

“Our current inflation rate in June 2024 was 6.7 percent and is projected to stabilize around 3 to 4 percent by year-end,” he stated.

Prof Prasad mentioned they had maintained zero VAT on 22 essential items to help people with the cost-of-living challenges.

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