Government revenues largely come from sales of fishing licenses, income from the Tuvalu Trust Fund, and from the lease of its “.tv” Internet Top Level Domain (TLD). In 1998, Tuvalu began deriving revenue from the use of its area code for premium-rate telephone numbers and from the commercialization of its “.tv” Internet domain name, which is now managed by Verisign until 2021. Tuvalu also generates income from postage stamps by the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau, and from the Tuvalu Ship Registry.
The Tuvalu Trust Fund was established in 1987 by the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The value of the Tuvalu Trust Fund is approximately $100 million. Financial support to Tuvalu is also provided by Japan, South Korea and the European Union. Australia and New Zealand continue to contribute capital to the Tuvalu Trust Fund, and provide other forms of development assistance.
The US government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu. In 1999, the payment from the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT) was about $9 million, with the value increasing in the following years. In May 2013, representatives from the United States and the Pacific Islands countries agreed to sign interim arrangement documents to extend the Multilateral Fisheries Treaty (which encompasses the South Pacific Tuna Treaty) for 18 months.
The United Nations designates Tuvalu as a least developed country (LDC) because of its limited potential for economic development, absence of exploitable resources and its small size and vulnerability to external economic and environmental shocks. Tuvalu participates in the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries (EIF), which was established in October 1997 under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation. In 2013, Tuvalu deferred its graduation from least developed country (LDC) status to a developing country to 2015. Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said that this deferral was necessary to maintain access by Tuvalu to the funds provided by the United Nations’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), as “Once Tuvalu graduates to a developed country, it will not be considered for funding assistance for climate change adaptation programs like NAPA, which only goes to LDCs”. Tuvalu had met targets so that Tuvalu was to graduate from LDC status. Prime minister Enele Sopoaga wants the United Nations to reconsider its criteria for graduation from LDC status as not enough weight is given to the environmental plight of small island states like Tuvalu in the application of the Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI).
There are limited transport services in Tuvalu. There are about eight kilometres (5 miles) of roads. The streets of Funafuti were paved in mid-2002, but other roads are unpaved. Tuvalu does not have any railroads.
Funafuti is the only port, but there is a deep-water berth in the lagoon at Nukufetau. The merchant marine fleet consists of two passenger/cargo ships Nivaga III and Manu Folau. The Nivaga III and Manu Folau provide round-trip visits to the outer islands every three or four weeks, and travel between Suva, Fiji and Funafuti three or four times a year. The Manu Folau, a 50-metre vessel, was a gift from Japan to the people of Tuvalu. In 2015, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) assisted the government of Tuvalu to acquire MV Talamoana, a 30-metre vessel that will be used to implement Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to transport government officials and project personnel to the outer islands. In 2015, the Nivaga III was donated by the government of Japan; it replaced the Nivaga II, which had been in service in Tuvalu from 1989. In 2020, the government of Tuvalu purchased a landing barge, which is intended to transport of dangerous goods and building material from the capital to the outer islands. The barge was named Moeiteava . The Government of Taiwan provided financial assistance.