Tuvalu: Economy#

Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. Only eight of the atolls are inhabited. It is one of the smallest countries in the world, with its highest point at 4.6 meters above sea level. The country is isolated, almost entirely dependent on imports, particularly of food and fuel, and vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, which pose significant challenges to development.

The public sector dominates economic activity. Tuvalu has few natural resources, except for its fisheries. Earnings from fish exports and fishing licenses for Tuvalu’s territorial waters are a significant source of government revenue. In 2013, revenue from fishing licenses doubled and totaled more than 45% of GDP.

Official aid from foreign development partners has also increased. Tuvalu has substantial assets abroad. The Tuvalu Trust Fund, an international trust fund established in 1987 by development partners, has grown to $141 million in 2013 and is an important cushion for meeting shortfalls in the government's budget. While remittances are another substantial source of income, the value of remittances has declined since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Growing income inequality is one of many concerns for the nation.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$39 million (2016 est.)
$37.52 million (2015 est.)
$36.55 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$32 million (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate4% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
2.2% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$3,500 (2016 est.)
$3,400 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 24.5%
industry: 5.6%
services: 70% (2012 est.)
Agriculture - productscoconuts; fish
Industrial production growth rate-26.1% (2012 est.)
Labor force3,615 (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
note: people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and through overseas remittances (mostly from workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)
Unemployment rateNA%
Population below poverty line26.3% (2010 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $42.68 million
expenditures: $32.46 million (2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues133.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)31.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
Public debt41.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
43.1% of GDP (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)3.5% (2016 est.)
3.2% (2015 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate10.6% (31 December 2013 est.)
10.6% (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$0 (2014)
Current account balance-$1 million (2016 est.)
$2 million (2015 est.)
Exports$600,000 (2010 est.)
$1 million (2004 est.)
Exports - commoditiescopra, fish
Imports$136.5 million (2013 est.)
$238.6 million (2012 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfood, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
Debt - external$NA
Exchange ratesTuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -
1.3291 (2015 est.)
1.67 (2014 est.)
1.1094 (2013 est.)
0.97 (2012 est.)