Recovery from the cyclone pushed container registrations higher

Container Registrations  March 2018

  Mar 18
Feb 18
Jan 18
Dec 17

1,032 539 723 1,254
492 338 393 596
540 201 330 658

The arrival of scheduled cargo vessels has returned to normal operations after the disruptions caused by Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gita in February 2018. During the month, eleven cargo vessels arrived in Tonga compared to six cargo vessels in February 2018. Coupled with the recovery work operations from the cyclone, the total container registrations increased by 91.5% (493 containers) to a total of 1,032 containers. Both business and private containers increased by 154 and 339 containers respectively. The rise in business containers reflected business returning to normal operations to cater for the demand of consumers. Private containers rose significantly due to the in-kind donations and imports by individuals of immediate recovery goods. This was also eased by the tax exemptions on the personal imports of food items and construction materials as part of the government’s initiative to help the people of Tonga following the aftermath of TC Gita. Most of the containers that had arrived on cargo vessels were from New Zealand, Indonesia and Australia.

Payments for imports (excluding oil) increased over the month by $8.7 million (47.6%) which coincided with the rise in total container registrations. Payment for wholesale & retail imports increased the most, followed by the Government and motor vehicles imports.

In year ended terms, the total container registrations rose by 1,112 containers (10.6%). Both private and business containers increased by 670 (13.9%) and 442 (7.8%) respectively indicating a rise in the informal distribution sector and a vibrant trade sector. This was also consistent with a $22.5 million (7.3%) rise in import payments (excluding oil) as a result of higher payments for the import of wholesale & retail goods and miscellaneous goods (such as electrical infrastructure materials, medical, and technological goods).

Imports is projected to continue to increase in the near term as the recovery from TC Gita will commence in the upcoming months. The in-kind assistance from families abroad is expected to rise supported by the tax and duty exemptions on food items, clothes, beds and building materials in the wake of TC Gita. Business imports is also projected to increase to meet the domestic demand for wholesale & retails goods. The Reserve Bank’s projections for positive economic growth support the outlook for higher imports and consequently container registrations will generally increase. On-going construction projects and new private residential constructions are anticipated to contribute to the rise. Spill over effects on the trade, tourism, construction sectors and other sectors in the economy are also anticipated. 


Economics Department
National Reserve Bank of Tonga


Telephone: (676) 24057
Fax: (676) 24201 
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Container Registration - March 2018 
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