30 Nov 2018

Kiribati wealth fund lost $US20m to US-China trade war - Finance Minister

4:08 pm on 30 November 2018

Kiribati's Finance Minister says the trade war between the US and China has cost the country's sovereign wealth fund $US20 million.

The flag of Kiribati.

The flag of Kiribati. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Teuea Toatu made the comments when opening the Kiribati 2019 budget this week, which freed up spending of $US163 million.

Kiribati's Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund passed over one billion dollars, ($US730m), for the first time this year.

But Finance Minister Teuea Toatu said it fell back below that in October, after investors became concerned about geopolitics and trade wars.

Dr Toatu said the losses serve as a reminder that Kiribati's economy is linked to the world's.

Delivering the 2019 budget, he says GDP growth averaged 5 per cent from 2015-2017 due to record-high fishing revenue and donor support, compared with a 1.5 per cent average from 2009-2014.

The government is putting $US2.2 million towards new mobile phone towers for outer islands.

Police spending has been boosted by $US500,000 to more than $US7 million, to fund a 25-person patrol boat crew to improve maritime safety and security. The money will also assist Kiribati with joining INTERPOL, which it did alongside Vanuatu earlier this month.

Kiribati also wants to attract 70 more teachers each year through its training programs, contributing around $US250,000 to the target.