Vanuatu's economy is primarily agricultural; 80% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities that range from subsistence farming to smallholder farming of coconuts and other cash crops.
Copra, cocoa, kava and beef account for more than 60% of Vanuatu's total exports by value and agriculture accounts for 20% of GDP. Tourism is Vanuatu's fastest-growing sector, having comprised 40% of GDP in 2000. Industry's portion of GDP declined from 15% to 10% between 1990 and 2008. Government consumption accounted for about 27% of GDP.
Vanuatu has commodities, mostly agricultural, produced for export. In 2000, imports exceeded exports by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1. This was offset by high services income from tourism, which kept the current account balance fairly even. After a downturn in 2001 and 2002 due to a decrease in tourism funding,[clarification needed] the economy was expected to grow by 3.9%, increasing to 4.3% in 2007.
Luganville, the second largest city, is a hub for exports with 64.3% of domestic exports leaving it compared to 35.7% for the capital of Port Vila, whereas imports show the opposite trend with 86.9% entering through the capital and 13.1% through Luganville.
In addition, the Vanuatu government has maintained the country's pre-independence status as a tax haven and international financial center. About 2,000 registered institutions offer a wide range of offshore banking, investment, legal, accounting, and insurance and trust company services. On the Tax Justice Network's 2011 Financial Secrecy Index, Vanuatu received a "secrecy score" of 88/100, though its marginal market share placed it near the bottom of the weighted list. Vanuatu was one of three Pacific island nations (along with Nauru and Palau) which four major international banks placed a U.S. dollar transaction ban on in December 1999.
In 1997 the government, with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, committed itself to a 3-year comprehensive reform program. During the first year of the program the government has adopted a value-added tax, consolidated and reformed government-owned banks, and started a 10% downsizing in the public service. The program was derailed when Barak Sope became Prime Minister. Under Prime Minister Edward Natapei, reform programs have been reintroduced.
The government declared 2007 to be "the Year of the Traditional Economy" (Bislama: kastom ekonomi), encouraging the trade of sea shells and pig tusks and discouraging cash transfers. By the end of the year, they extended the experiment in to 2008. The establishment of the Tangbunia Bank, to deal in customary wealth, was linked to this initiative.
Vanuatu maintains an international shipping register in New York City.
Vanuatu scored 32.06 (versus a worldwide score of 42.94, lower scores translating to higher risk) on the June 2013 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
All "$" units are US Dollar.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.237 billion (2012 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2012 estimate)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $ (2012 est.) 4900
GDP - composition by sector:
services: 67.6% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.8% (2012 est.)
Labor force: 900 (2007) 115
Unemployment rate: 1.5% (2010)
Ease of Doing Business Rank: 60th
revenues: $188.2 million
expenditures: $207.4 million, including capital expenditures of $700 000 (2012 est.)
Industries: food and fish freezing, wood processing, meat canning
Industrial production growth rate: 12% (2011 est.)
Electricity - production: 52 GWh (2008)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 90%
other: 10% (2012)
Electricity - consumption: 40.22 GWh (2008)
Electricity - exports: 220 kWh (2008)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008)
Exports: $280 million (f.o.b., 2012 est.)
Imports: $242 million (f.o.b., 2012)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, fuels
Debt - external: $307.7 million (2011)
Economic aid - recipient: $27.5 million (2002)
Currency: 1 vatu (VT) = 100 centimes
Exchange rates: vatu (VT) per US$1 – 94.03 (2012), 96.91 (2010), 111.79 (2004), 122.19 (2003), 139.2 (2002), 145.31 (2001), 129.76 (December 1999), 129.08 (1999), 127.52 (1998), 115.87 (1997), 111.72 (1996), 112.11 (1995)
Fiscal year: calendar year