Marshall Islands - Industry
The economy's small manufacturing sector, localized largely in Majuro, accounts for less than 4% of the gross revenues generated in the private sector. The largest industrial operation is a copra-processing mill under a government and private-sector joint enterprise. (Copra is dried coconut meat.) The rest of the manufacturing sector consists of small-scale and domestic operations, such as coin making, furniture making, handicrafts, and boat making. In 1986, a government-owned dairy factory was established in Majuro, producing liquid milk, ice cream, and yogurt from imported milk powder and butterfat. In 1987, a small tuna cannery began production in Majuro but did not survive the economic downturns of the late 1990s. Manufacturing output increased rapidly in the early 1990s climbing from $853 million in 1991 to a peak of $2.7 billion in 1995, a 215% increase. The growth was not sustained, and by 1998, manufacturing output had fallen almost 45% to $1.48 billion. Coconut oil was again the Marshall Islands' only appreciable manufactured export. At the end of 1999 a tuna loining plant was opened in Majuro, an operation that performed all but the canning of tuna, which was done at a StarKist cannery in American Samoa. By 2000 manufacturing output had climbed to $1.72 billion. In the period from 1988 and 1999, the percent of the work force engaged in industry more than doubled, from 10% to 21%. The sector is dominated by small-scale, labor-intensive operations, however, and only accounts for 16% of GDP.