Service industries dominate employment and accounted for 75% of GDP in 2002. Fisheries and agriculture had their share reduced from just over 25% in 1992 to 14.2% in 2002, but still employed 26% of the workforce. Coconuts are grown for sale (copra); for their own consumption, bananas, breadfruit, papaya and screw palm (which yield berry-like fruits) are grown. Kopra accounted for 23.5% of exports in 2002 against 77.1% in 1992. Cultivation of seaweed began in the mid-1980s and amounts to approx. 15% of export revenue, while shark fines account for 5%. Otherwise, there is a widespread animal husbandry of pigs and poultry. The state fishing company was closed down in 1991 due to. strong decline in catch, but sale of fishing licenses to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have become an important source of revenue. In 2001, license sales brought in approx. NOK 250 million, or five times as much as the country’s total exports.
Up to 1979, phosphate was extracted on Banaba (Ocean Island) by the British Phosphate Commission, for export to Australia and New Zealand. Phasing out phosphate mining, which gave Kiribati about 80% of export revenue and 50% of state revenue, has had a devastating effect on the country’s economy. Interest income from a reserve fund, established in 1956, remains an important source of income.
Tourism is an important source of income and constitutes approx. 15% of the country’s income. Since the turn of the millennium, the island kingdom has had annual visits of approx. 14,000 travelers, including over 4,000 tourists; most from Asia. Kiribati had 200 hotel rooms at the turn of the millennium, but a new hotel with nearly 150 rooms was under construction at Kiritimati. Since 2001, Norwegian Cruise Line has had weekly sailings from Honolulu to Tabuaeran (Fanning Island).
According to countryaah, Kiribati’s main trading partners are Bangladesh (receives about 77% of Kiribati’s export products), Australia, Japan and Fiji. The country’s limited exports and imports of most products mean that the country has a permanent deficit in the trade balance abroad.
Sales of fishing rights and transfers from Kiribatians abroad are the main source of currency; about. 2000 works as sailors on foreign ships. Kiribati has good fishing banks within its economic zone and has sold fishing rights to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Almost all of Kiribati’s production of seaweed and kelp is exported to Denmark.
Transport and Communications
The large distances make transport between the islands difficult. Air routes link Tarawa to most of the outer islands and to Tuvalu, Nauru, Fiji and Hawaii. The main port city is Betio on Tarawa. Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Marshall Islands have since 1995 planned the establishment of a joint regional airline.
The island kingdom has 670 km of roads that can be used by motor vehicles.