Economy of the Cook Islands

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The Economy of the Cook Islands, as in many other South Pacific island nations, is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure.

Agriculture provides the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit-processing, clothing, and handicrafts.

Trade deficits are made up for by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. Efforts to exploit tourism potential, encourage offshore banking, and expand the mining and fishing industries have been partially successful in stimulating investment and growth.


Banking & finance

The Cook Islands has "Home Rule" with respect to banking, similar to Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

This "Home Rule" banking confuses New Zealanders on vacation in the Cooks. Cook ATM machines often fail to fully disclose the fact that the Cooks are not part of the New Zealand banking system, thus legally requiring banks to charge the same fees for withdrawing or transferring money as if the person was in Australia or the EU. The New Zealand Dollar is the official currency of the Cook Islands, adding to the confusion. Cook Islanders are NZ citizens.

The banking and incorporation laws of the Cook Islands make it an important centre for setting up companies that are involved in global trade.

Economic statistics

  • Agriculture: 15.1%
  • Industry: 9.6%
  • Services: 75.3% (2000)
  • Lowest 10%: NA%
  • Highest 10%: NA%
  • Revenues: $70.95 million
  • Expenditures: $69.05 million; including capital expenditures of $5.744 million (FY00/01 est.)
  • Fossil fuel: 100%
  • Hydro: 0%
  • Nuclear: 0%
  • Other: 0% (2001)


Telecom Cook Islands Ltd (TCI) is the sole provider of telecommunications in the Cook Islands. TCI is a private company owned by Telecom New Zealand (TNZ) Ltd (60) and the Cook Islands Government (40). In operation since July 1991, TCI provides local, national and international telecommunications as well as internet access on all islands except Suwarrow. Communications to Suwarrow is via HF radio.


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