THE economic growth estimate this year is expected to be lower at 2.0 percent compared to the 2.4 percent projected earlier in May, the Reserve Bank of Fiji announced yesterday.
RBF Governor and Macroeconomic Committee chairman, Barry Whiteside attributed the slight drop to what he said was a “larger than expected” negative impact from natural disasters earlier this year, including Tropical Cyclone Winston.
He said projected declines in output from the agriculture and forestry sectors are higher than earlier estimated while fishing and aquaculture activity is now forecast to fall this year, reflecting cyclonic damage to infrastructure and the inshore marine ecosystem.
A supply shortage in building materials has also slowed down rehabilitation works -downgrading visitor arrivals- though accommodation & food services and the construction sectors remain strong, the RBF noted.
“The trade deficit is estimated to widen this year mainly due to higher imports of machinery & transport equipment, manufactured goods, food and chemicals, to support the reconstruction of housing and infrastructural amenities post TC Winston. On the same note, agro-based exports such as sugar, fruit & vegetables and timber are anticipated to decline (given the damage sustained by many farms),” Whiteside added.
The economy is expected to achieve a board based growth of 3.6 percent next year, while the forecast for both 2018 and 2019 has been pegged at 3.0 percent, with major contributors being manufacturing, transport and storage, financial and insurance activities, accommodation and food services and the wholesale and retail trade sectors.