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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Kiribati

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 9, 2015


More information about Kiribati is available on the Kiribati Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States and Kiribati signed a treaty of friendship in 1979 following Kiribati's independence from the United Kingdom, and they established diplomatic relations in 1980. The United States and Kiribati have enjoyed a close relationship based on mutual respect and shared interests. The two countries work closely together on a broad range of issues, from strengthening regional security, to promoting sustainable development and addressing climate change, to protecting fisheries and the environment. The United States and Kiribati have signed a cooperative maritime law enforcement agreement, or "ship rider agreement," allowing I-Kiribati law enforcement officers to embark on select U.S. Coast Guard and Navy vessels and aircraft to patrol their waters. In 2013 the United States concluded a maritime boundary agreement with Kiribati. The United States has no consular or diplomatic facilities in the country. Officers of the U.S. Embassy in Fiji are concurrently accredited to Kiribati and make periodic visits.

U.S. Assistance to Kiribati

The United States is a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Kiribati, including the World Bank, UN Children's Fund, World Health Organization, UN Fund for Population Activities, and Asian Development Bank (ADB). USAID funds small-grants projects in Kiribati to assist communities in adapting to climate change.

Bilateral Economic Relations

U.S. trade with Kiribati is limited. Kiribati is a party to the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which provides access for U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement associated with the Treaty, the United States government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties.. The majority of U.S. tourists to Kiribati visit Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the Line Islands on fishing and diving vacations.

Kiribati's Membership in International Organizations

Kiribati and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Kiribati is Judith Cefkin, resident in Fiji; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Kiribati does not have an embassy in Washington, DC, but opened a mission to the United Nations in New York in 2013.

More information about Kiribati is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Kiribati Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
U.S. Embassy: Fiji
History of U.S. Relations With Kiribati
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Travel and Business Information

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