Merchandise exports of $11 million in 1997-98 were made up almost entirely of fish products. There are some exports of copra (dried coconut), garments and handi-crafts. Exports of seashells for buttons, ornaments, and making lacquers are not recorded, but there is probably a small amount of informal trade. The fishing sector appears to be in a steady decline. In 1992-93, fish exports were around $17.7 million. The decline is partly because of changes in the available fish stocks, as a result of oceanographic factors. In addition, fish prices fell after 1996 as a result of the Asian economic crisis, reducing demand for fish. Exports of fish have also been hindered by a shortage of refrigerated air freight services from Palau. Exports go mostly to the United States and Japan.
Merchandise imports were $52 million in 1997-99. Food products made up 14 percent of imports by value, beverages and tobacco 8 percent, petroleum 25 percent, chemicals 3 percent, machinery and transport equipment 23 percent, and manufactured consumer goods 26 percent. The main sources of imports were the United States (40 percent), Guam (18 percent), Japan (13 percent), Singapore (13 percent), and Taiwan (5 percent).