Kiribati: Economy#

A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources and is one of the least developed Pacific Island countries. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted by the time of independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Earnings from fishing licenses and seafarer remittances are important sources of income, however, remittances and the number of seafarers employed have declined since the global crisis. In 2013, fishing license revenues contributed close to half of government’s total revenue and total remittances from seafarers were equivalent to 6% of GDP.

Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. The public sector dominates economic activity, with ongoing capital projects in infrastructure including the road rehabilitation, water and sanitation projects, and renovations to the international airport, spurring some growth.

Kiribati is dependent on foreign aid, which was estimated to have contributed over 43% in 2013 to the government’s finances. The country’s sovereign fund, the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (RERF), which is held offshore, had an estimated balance of $668 million in 2013, equivalent to 381% of GDP. The RERF seeks to avoid exchange rate risk by holding investments in more than 20 currencies, including the Australian dollar, United States dollar, the Japanese yen, and the Euro. Drawdowns from the RERF helped finance the government’s annual budget

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$211 million (2016 est.)
$204.7 million (2015 est.)
$197.8 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$166 million (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate3.1% (2016 est.)
3.5% (2015 est.)
2.4% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,800 (2016 est.)
$1,800 (2015 est.)
$1,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 26.3%
industry: 9.2%
services: 64.5% (2012 est.)
Agriculture - productscopra, breadfruit, fish
Industriesfishing, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate1.1% (2012 est.)
Labor force39,000
note: economically active, not including subsistence farmers (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 15%
industry: 10%
services: 75% (2010)
Unemployment rate30.6% (2010 est.)
6.1% (2005)
Population below poverty lineNA%
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $197.9 million
expenditures: $179.9 million (2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues119.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)10.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
Public debt8.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
8% of GDP (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearNA
Inflation rate (consumer prices)1.5% (2016 est.)
0.6% (2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Current account balance-$12 million (2016 est.)
$72 million (2015 est.)
Exports$84.75 million (2013 est.)
$62.31 million (2012 est.)
Exports - commoditiesfish, coconut products
Imports$182.2 million (2013 est.)
$172.5 million (2012 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfood, machinery and equipment, miscellaneous manufactured goods, fuel
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$8.37 million (31 December 2010 est.)
Debt - external$13.6 million (2013 est.)
$14.1 million (2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Exchange ratesAustralian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.352 (2016 est.)
1.3291 (2015 est.)
1.3291 (2014 est.)
0.9695 (2013 est.)
0.9695 (2012 est.)
note: the Australian dollar circulates as legal tender