Is Fiji Water a stronger entity than the Fijian government?
The new tax—labeled by the Fijian government as a “Water Resource Tax”—singles out any company that extracts more than 3.5 million liters of natural water in a month with a 15 percent tax per liter. Coincidentally, the only company that falls into that category is Fiji Water.
"This new tax is untenable and as a consequence, Fiji Water is left with no choice but to close our facility in Fiji," the company, which sells its bottled water in more than 40 countries, said.
So is it time to start hoarding the last remaining Fiji water bottles?
Maybe. Bainimarama seems set on the new tax and his authoritarian mindset that Fiji Water as an organization does nothing to support Fiji or any of its people doesn't help the situation.
Is it likely that Fiji Water has bottled its last bottle?
Probably not. A similar event occurred in 2008 when the Fiji government demanded a tax hike of 20 percent for the bottler, and Fiji Water responded that it would shut down its operations. The government quickly yanked the tax, and Fiji Water remained.
Will Bainimarama back down this time? If he does, then this standoff is no different than 2008 and Fiji Water will have successfully demonstrated that it has more pull than the Fiji government. It seems like he would have to back down at some point simply because of the economic contributions that Fiji Water makes to the island. Long-term economic problems in Fiji include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's inability to manage its budget. The “Water Resource Tax” is certainly a responding measure to combat its out-of-control budget.
But if/when Fiji Water ever leaves the island, it would take with it important business and jobs along the supply chain. For example, Golden Manufacturers is a cardboard box manufacturer that services the South Pacific and it would lose a significant portion of its revenue seeing as Fiji Water orders millions of the company’s high-end cartons printed with color and custom graphics. Other ramifications for a Fiji Water departure along the supply chain include deep cuts for the China bottlers that make Fiji Water’s square, hard-plastic bottle, and the ocean freight companies that deliver the bottles to Fiji.
Fiji Water said in a statement that the measure “sends a clear and unmistakable message to businesses operating in Fiji or looking to invest there: the country is increasingly unstable, and is becoming a very risky place in which to invest.”
Fiji Water will either mortgage the future of its company by agreeing to pay the tax and remain in an unstable country with the junta government, or Bainimarama will come down off of his mountain and realize that ramifications of the company leaving are far greater than anything he could have imagined.
I’d bet on the latter, but just in case, I’m going to pick up a case of Fiji Water anyways.
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.