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Economy of the Marshall Islands

From Academic Kids

The government of the Marshall Islands is the largest employer, employing 30.6% of the work force, down by 3.4% since 1988. GDP is derived mainly from payments made by the United States under the terms of the Compact of Free Association. Direct U.S. aid accounted for 60% of the Marshalls' $90 million budget.

The economy combines a small subsistence sector and a modern urban sector. In short, fishing and breadfruit, banana, taro, and pandanus cultivation constitute the subsistence sector. On the outer islands, production of copra and handicrafts income provide cash income. The modern service-oriented economy is located in Majuro and Ebeye. It is sustained by government expenditures and the U.S. Army installation at Kwajalein Atoll. The airfield there also serves as a second national hub for international flights.

The modern sector consists of wholesale and retail trade; restaurants; banking and insurance; construction, repair, and professional services; and copra processing. Copra cake and oil are by far the nation's largest exports. A tuna loining plant employs 300 workers, mostly women, at $1.50 per hour. Copra production, the most important single commercial activity for the past 100 years, now depends on government subsidies. The subsidies, more a social policy than an economic strategy, help reduce migration from outer atolls to densely populated Majuro and Ebeye.

Marine resources, including fishing, aquaculture, tourism development, and agriculture, are top government development priorities. The Marshall Islands sells fishing rights to other nations as a source of income. In recent years, the Marshall Islands has begun to offer ship registrations under the Marshall Islands flag. As a small nation, the Marshall Islands must import a wide variety of goods, including foodstuffs, consumer goods, machinery, and petroleum products.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $105 million (1998 est.), supplemented by approximately $65 million annual US aid

GDP - real growth rate: -5% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,670 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 13%
services: 72% (1995)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (1997)

Labor force: NA

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%

Unemployment rate: 16% (1991 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $80.1 million
expenditures: $77.4 million, including capital expenditures of $19.5 million (FY95/96 est.)

Industries: copra, fish, tourism, craft items from shell, wood, and pearls, offshore banking (embryonic)

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 57 million kWh (1994)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
hydro: NA%
nuclear: NA%
other: NA%

Electricity - consumption: 57 million kWh (1994)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1994)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1994)

Agriculture - products: coconuts, cacao, taro, breadfruit, fruits; pigs, chickens

Exports: $28 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

Exports - commodities: fish, coconut oil, fish, trochus shells

Exports - partners: United States, Japan, Australia

Imports: $58 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, fuels, beverages and tobacco

Imports - partners: United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Singapore

Debt - external: $125 million (FY96/97 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: approximately $65 million annually from the US

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

See also : Marshall Islands
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