COUNTRYAAH, the Marshall Islands have a business sector where the
public sector employs 48 percent of the workforce, while 38
percent work in the private sector (2017 figures from EPPSO,
the National Statistical Agency). The remaining workforce is
mainly employed by non-governmental or international
organizations. The vast majority of wage work is found in
the urban centers, primarily in Majuro, the capital, and at
Kwajalein. The so-called outer atolls are dominated by
natural housekeeping. According to the World Bank, gross
domestic product (GDP) per capita was $ 4,860 in 2018.
The national currency is USD. In 2018, Nitijela, the
country's legislative power, voted to establish a
cryptocurrency (called the Sovereign, SOV) that
will operate in parallel with the USD.
An association agreement with the United States secures
US financial assistance until 2023, with the possibility of
renewal. Together with other forms of international
development assistance, this constitutes an important part
of GDP. In 2018, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) declared
the Marshall Islands as a particular risk for debt.
In the 1990s, the Marshall Islands tried to develop
financial services and attract capital by acting as a tax
haven. Control of the banking system was tightened in 2002,
after the OECD had accused the island state of allowing the
so-called money laundering of criminal networks. The
Marshall Islands still operate with a flag of convenience.
The military base at Kwajalein
In 1964, the US Army took over the administration of
Kwajalein in connection with a military project to
experiment with anti- ballistic missiles. The base has
changed its name many times, but is now called the Ronald
Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site (RTS).
Today, the ballistic missile trial and anti-ballistic
missile intercept are conducted at RTS. The base is leased
and operated by the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll
(USAKA) with a contract that runs until 2066. Today, around
1,000 marshallers work at RTS. These commute from the
Marshallese settlement on the island of Ebeye, 4 kilometers
north of the base. It was here that the Kwajalein population
was forcibly relocated when the base was first established
in connection with the US nuclear test farther north on the
Marshall Islands from the mid-1940s. Today, over 11,000
people live on Ebeye, which has made it one of the most
densely populated islands in the world.
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture, fisheries and manu- facturing employ about
nine percent of the population and account for about 17
percent of GDP. Agriculture is limited by small and poor
cultivation land. The most important agricultural product is
coconuts, which both make important contributions to
households and are one of the few export goods, often in the
form of copra (dried coconut meat).
Otherwise, among other things, bread fruits, taro,
bananas, papaya, tomatoes and pandanus are grown. There is
some pig and poultry farming, but not commercial. In the
waters, commercial fishing of tuna is conducted by foreign
players, as well as small-scale fishing of lagoon fish to
the local fish markets. The country has significant revenues
from the sale of licenses to foreign fishing fleets.
The industry is poorly developed and is limited to the
production of coconut products such as copra and coconut
oil, as well as the construction industry and some
production of fish canned goods. Otherwise, there is limited
craftsmanship. These have little impact on the national
economy, but are central to the household economy.
With the exception of the military camp at Kwajalein, the
service industry is the most important in the private
sector. Much of this is associated with the two major hotels
in Majuro, as well as various retail businesses. Tourism is
virtually non-existent, with less than 5,000 visitors a
year, including around 50 percent of business travelers.
The Marshall Islands need to import most of what they
need and have few export products. Scrap metal accounts for
the largest share of exports. Of locally produced goods,
various fishery products are the largest export goods (10
percent of total), followed by coconut products such as
copra and coconut oil (0.55 percent of total).
Transport and Communications
International airports at Majuro and the US military base
at Kwajalein serve international flights with Hawaii and
other Pacific islands. The local airline Air Marshall
Islands (AMI) connects Majuro to all inhabited atolls with
varying frequency. United Airlines has flights to and from
Hawaii, while Our Airlines (Air Nauru) flies to Australia
via the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Kiribati.
The maritime transport between the islands is mainly
operated by state-owned vessels. International container
traffic is operated by several shipping companies, with
Matson as the largest player. The Marshall Islands has an
international shipping register and, through its flag of
convenience, has switched between having the world's second
and third largest fleet over the past decade. By 2019,
Panama and Liberia were bigger. Norwegian representative:
The law firm Simonsen Vogt Wiig AS, Oslo.