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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Tonga

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Tonga: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Tonga

Shirts and ties will suffice for business visits. English is widely spoken followed by French.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1630.

Economy

Agriculture is the strongest part of Tonga's economy, producing coconuts, vanilla and pumpkins as cash crops, and a variety of fruit, vegetables and nuts for domestic consumption. The fishing industry was relatively underdeveloped and has been a focus of government plans to expand the economy.

Industrial activity is mostly light and small-scale: textiles, handicrafts, brewing and the production of furniture and construction materials predominate. More recently, these have been joined by enterprises engaged in small manufacturing operations and food processing. The search for oil, which has been licensed to foreign consortia, continues offshore despite lack of success so far. Tonga's own energy requirements are met from renewable sources, principally wave and solar power.

Most of the growth in the economy and the best immediate prospect for Tonga's economic future lie in tourism which has been expanded under a recently completed 10-year development programme. The industry is now worth US$10 million annually to the Tongan economy. Nonetheless, the government is constantly looking for other projects to diversify the island's economy.

A further vital source of revenue is remittances from the many thousands of Tongans working abroad, mainly in New Zealand and Australia.

Tonga is a member of the South Pacific Forum and the South Pacific Commission. A regional free-trade accord, known as the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement, was signed among a group of Pacific governments in 2002.
For advice, contact the Tonga Visitors' Bureau (see Contact Addresses).

GDP

US$298 million (2008).

Main exports

Squash, fish, vanilla beans and root crops.

Main imports

Food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels and chemicals.

Main trading partners

Japan, USA, New Zealand and Australia.

Keeping in Touch in Tonga

Telephone

There are no area codes.

Mobile Phone

Coverage is limited to Nuku'alofa. No roaming agreements exist.

Internet

There are Internet cafés in Nuku'alofa.

Media

The state's control of the media increased following an amendment to the constitution in 2003 which limited the right of the courts to review royal decisions. State-owned radio and TV are usually biased towards government policy, while private broadcasters offer little independent coverage. Although some privately-owned newspapers carry opposition views, journalists have been known to face harassment and threats of criminal charges. The Matangi Tonga, The Times of Tonga (New Zealand-based) and Tonga Chronicle are English-language newspapers. Television Tonga is state run; private TV networks include TV7 and Friendly Island Broadcasting Network (Vava'u). Tonfon TV is a pay-TV service.

Post

All mail must be collected from the post office. Airmail to Europe takes approximately 10 days. There are branch offices on Ha'apai and Vava'u.

Post Office hours

(main office located in the centre of Nuku'alofa) Mon-Fri 0830-1600.