Foreign relations of Kiribati

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Kiribati is a full member of the Commonwealth, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999. Kiribati hosted the Thirty-First Pacific Islands Forum in October 2000. Kiribati has Least Developed Country Status and its interests rarely extend beyond the region. Through accession to the Lomé Convention, then Cotonou Agreement, Kiribati is also a member of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group. Kiribati maintains good relations with most countries and has particularly close ties to Pacific neighbours Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Kiribati briefly suspended its relations with France in 1995 over that country's decision to renew nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Kiribati established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in November 2003, but cut off all relations in September 2019 when Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Taiwan's foreign minister stated that Kiribati had "unrealistic" expectations from China and ordered the embassy to evacuate.[1]

Regional Relations[edit]

Kiribati maintains strong regional ties in the Pacific. It is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Kiribati is one of the eight signatories of the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest which collectively controls 25–30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply [1]. In 1985, Kiribati was one of the nine initial endorsers of the Treaty of Rarotonga creating the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

Extra-regional relations[edit]

Kiribati was admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations in 1979 upon its independence, and to the United Nations in 1999.

Additionally outside the region, Kiribati is a member or participant of the ACP (Lomé Convention), the Asian Development Bank, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the IMF, International Maritime Organization, International Olympic Committee, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Universal Postal Union and the World Meteorological Organization. Finally, while Kiribati is not a member of the World Trade Organization, it does retain observer status.

Kiribati is the only developing nation in the Pacific never to have been a member of the Group of 77. Palau (which withdrew from membership in 2004) is the only other Pacific developing nation that is not part of the group.

Diplomatic missions[edit]

Kiribati has only two permanent missions abroad, the High Commission in Suva, Fiji, and a permanent mission to the United Nations in New York that serves also as Embassy in the US. It has honorary consulates in New Delhi, Abergavenny, Auckland, Sydney, Honolulu, Tokyo, and Hamburg. Formerly, there was an embassy in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan). In Kiribati, there are High Commissions from Australia and New Zealand and an embassy of the People’s Republic of China (re-opened in May 2020).

Bilateral relations[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 26 September 2018

Kiribati and Armenia established diplomatic relations on 26 September 2018.[2]

 Brazil 21 September 2010

Kiribati and Brazil established diplomatic relations on 21 September 2010.[4]

Kiribati President Taneti Mamau and Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen in May 2016.

Kiribati firstly established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1980. At that time, Kiribati had been the home to a satellite tracking base for PRC space program from 1997 until 2003.[5] On 7 November 2003, Kiribati established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC). Although it did not sever ties with the PRC, expressing the intention to continue relations, Beijing suspended ties on 29 November after failed attempts to lobby President Anote Tong to change his mind.

On 9 January 2004, the ROC opened its embassy in Kiribati.[6] On 31 May 2013, Kiribati opened its embassy in Taipei. This was the first ever Kiribati embassy outside of Oceania. Teekoa Iuta became Kiribati's first ambassador to the country.[7] On 20 September 2019, Kiribati switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China, effectively cutting all relations to Taiwan.[8] Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing had used "dollar diplomacy" to influence the Kiribati government.[9]


In the late 2000s, Kiribati began to strengthen its relations with Cuba. Cuba provides medical aid to Kiribati. There are currently sixteen doctors providing specialised medical care in Kiribati, with sixteen more scheduled to join them.[10] Cuban doctors have reportedly provided a dramatic improvement to the field of medical care in Kiribati, reducing the child mortality rate in that country by 80%[11] As of September 2008, over twenty I-Kiribati medical students are studying in Cuba, at Cuba's expense.[12][13]

In September 2008, President Anote Tong attended the first Cuba-Pacific Islands ministerial meeting in Havana. By meeting President Raúl Castro to discuss "mutual friendship and cooperation", he became the first Pacific leader to pay a state visit to Cuba.[12] The two countries signed an agreement on increased cooperation in the field of health.[14]

 Estonia 4 September 2014

Kiribati and Estonia established diplomatic relations on 4 September 2014.[15]

  • Kiribati has a high commission in Suva.
 Finland 25 March 2011

Kiribati and Finland established diplomatic relations on 25 March 2011.[16]


The two countries maintain official diplomatic relations, but no diplomatic presence on each other's territory; the French embassy in Suva is accredited to Kiribati.[17]

In 1995, Kiribati briefly suspended its diplomatic relations with France in protest against French nuclear tests at Mururoa in French Polynesia.[18]


German shipping companies opened a trade school for seamen in 1967. It exists until today. About I-Kiribati 5,000 seaman work for German shipping companies today.[19]

  • Kiribati has an honorary consul in Hamburg.
  • Germany has no embassy in Tarawa. The German embassy in Wellington is accredited for Kiribati.
 Georgia 28 September 2012
  • Georgia is accredited to Kiribati from its embassy in Canberra, Australia.
 Hungary 17 June 2016

Kiribati and Hungary established diplomatic relations on 17 June 2016.[20]

 India 6 August 1985

Diplomatic relations between Kiribati and India were established on 6 August 1985.[21] At the Post Forum Dialogue partner meeting in 2006, India announced that it would provide a grant-in-aid of US$100,000 annually to each of the 14 Pacific Island countries, including Kiribati.[22] This was increased to US$125,000 from 2009.[23]

 Mexico 13 October 2005
  • Kiribati does not have an accreditation to Mexico.
  • Mexico is accredited to Kiribati from its embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[24]
 New Zealand
  • Kiribati has an honorary consulate in Wellington.
  • New Zealand has a high commission in Tarawa.[25]
 South Korea 2 May 1980

The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kiribati and The Republic of Korea (South Korea) began on 2 May 1980.[26]

 United Kingdom

Britain has long-standing historic links with Kiribati. The first British visitor to Kiribati was reputed to be Commodore John Byron in 1765, the immediate predecessor of James Cook's more famous explorations of the Pacific between 1769–1779. With the growth of the British settlement in Australia's New South Wales, whaling became a key element of the regional economy, and up to the 1870s British whalers were regular visitors to the waters surrounding Kiribati. Through its network of sovereign posts in the region (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia), the UK maintains bilateral programmes with Kiribati sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Environment and Department for International Development and other government departments. The UK Government's engagement in Kiribati is largely delivered through the Commonwealth, the European Union and The Asian Development Bank.

 United States 1970

Following its independence in 1979, Kiribati signed a treaty of friendship with the United States.[27] The United States Department of State characterizes U.S.–Kiribati relations as "excellent", as of 2009.[27] Diplomatic relations are conducted by the I-Kiribati Ambassador to the United States. Although the U.S. does not maintain a diplomatic office or consulate in Kiribati, staff from the American embassy in Suva, Fiji make frequent visits to Kiribati.[27] The U.S. provides economic development assistance through multilateral institutions.[27] From 1967 to 2008, the United States Peace Corps operated in Kiribati.[27]

Kiribati and the Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

Kiribati has been a Commonwealth republic since 1979, when the Gilbert Islands gained independence.

Aid & Development[edit]

Kiribati receives development aid from the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, USA, the Asian Development Bank, UN agencies and (until 2019) Taiwan. In recent years it has accounted for 20–25% of Kiribati's GDP. Recent projects and notable inputs by the EU have included telecommunications (improvement of telephone exchanges and provision of radio and navigation equipment), the development of seaweed as an export crop, solar energy systems for the outer islands, the upgrading of the Control Tower and fire fighting services at Tarawa's Bonriki International Airport, outer island social development, health services and extensive support for the Kiribati Vocational Training Programme. Additionally, Cuba provides doctors, as well as scholarships for I-Kiribati medical students.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Taipei down to 15 allies as Kiribati announces switch of diplomatic ties to Beijing". SCMP. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Armenia, Kiribati establish diplomatic ties". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  3. ^ High Commission of Australia in Tarawa
  4. ^ "Republic of Kiribati". Archived from the original on 22 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  5. ^ News, Taiwan. "Taiwan News Online - Breaking News, Politics, Environment, Immigrants, Travel, and Health". Taiwan News. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Embassy opens in diplomatic ally Kiribati – Taipei Times". Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Kiribati opens embassy in Taiwan", Focus Taiwan, 31 May 2013
  8. ^ "Kiribati cuts ties with Taiwan in diplomatic switch to China days after Solomon Islands pivot". ABC News. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  9. ^ . SCMP. 20 September 2019 Retrieved 20 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Pacific Magazine: Six More Cuban Physicians To Serve In Kiribati[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Cuban doctors reduce Kiribati infant mortality rate by 80 percent". Radio New Zealand International. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Kiribati's Tong Meets Castro, Heads To UN"[permanent dead link], Pacific Magazine, 18 September 2008
  13. ^ "Kiribati discusses medical training with Cuba". Radio New Zealand International. 6 September 2006. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Cuba, Kiribati Cooperate in Health"[permanent dead link], Prensa Latina, 18 September 2008
  15. ^ "Estonia established diplomatic relations with Kiribati – Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "French Foreign Affairs Ministry". Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Timeline: Kiribati", BBC, 29 April 2009
  19. ^ Einflusskämpfe im Westpazifik (II), 5 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Hungary establishes diplomatic relations with Kiribati". Government. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  21. ^ Association, Pacific Islands News. "Kiribati says Cooperation with India needs to be Consolidated". Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  22. ^ Crocombe, R. G. (1 January 2007). Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West. ISBN 9789820203884.
  23. ^ "India-Tuvalu relations, Ministry of external affairs, India" (PDF).
  24. ^ Relations between Mexico and Malaysia, Kiribati and Nauru (in Spanish)
  25. ^ High Commission of New Zealand in Tarawa
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b c d e Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (May 2009). "Background Note: Kiribati". United States Department of State website. Retrieved 6 August 2009. Relations between Kiribati and the United States are excellent.

External links[edit]