U.S. Relations With Kiribati

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
December 22, 2016

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 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

In 2016, the United States funded the construction of a climate-resilient health clinic that can withstand Category 5 tropical cyclone conditions that includes a 7,000 liter rainwater catchment system. The clinic will be staffed with a nurse from Kiribati’s Ministry of Health and will specialize in the treatment of communicable and vector borne diseases that have increased in the community. 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. The United States also has an expanded ship-rider agreement with Kiribati under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) to provide security and support ship-rider missions that permit Kiribati law enforcement officials to ride aboard U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The United States also contributes U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy air assets to search and rescue operations as well as regional Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) operations that help Kiribati protect earnings from fishing licenses in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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 to U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee paid by 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. Kiribati also belongs to the Pacific Islands Forum, of which the United States is a Dialogue Partner.

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