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Country Reports

Tonga Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Akilisi Pōhiva's position as prime minister is precarious due to his strained relationship with the monarchy, and there is a moderate risk that he will be removed in the next 12 months. Despite a transition to a more democratic form of government in 2010, the monarchy and traditional nobility retain considerable influence over the judiciary in Tonga, including the power to appoint certain positions.Some of Tonga's infrastructure is in good condition, including its transportation system. However, most businesses use generators to mitigate an unreliable power supply, and about 20% of the country lacks electricity.Rioting causing property damage remains highly unlikely. Ongoing social grievances against poverty and youth unemployment increase the likelihood of peaceful strikes and protests against the monarchy.Dependence on external assistance is likely to act as a significant constraint on future governments, as Tonga's external relations are dominated by the need to ensure continued financial support from major donors and creditors such as Australia, China, and New Zealand. Although damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita in February 2018 amounted to 30% of Tonga's GDP, spending on recovery activities will likely drive domestic economic activity in the near term. Delayed repayments to Chinese loans will help the Tongan government to contain fiscal shortfalls, but public wage growth and reconstruction is placing increased pressure on the budget.
Last update: July 30, 2020

Operational Outlook

The government encourages foreign investment and has gone to great lengths to improve legislation. Some of Tonga's infrastructure is in good condition, including its transportation system. However, most businesses use generators to mitigate an unreliable power supply, and about 20% of the country lacks electricity.

Last update: July 30, 2020

Terrorism

There is no known non-state armed group threat in Tonga.

Last update: July 30, 2020

Crime

Crime levels are likely to remain low in the next year, although foreigners are likely to be targeted for petty crime and theft. Low-level threats include drug trafficking and money laundering, with external actors seeking to exploit Tonga's maritime territory and weak state capacity. Tonga has passed money laundering legislation that deals specifically with proceeds from drug-related crimes. The Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (MLPCA) and Counter Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime Act 2013 provide international support. Tonga has never been blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force.

Last update: July 30, 2020

War Risks

Tonga enjoys good relations with its neighbours, and there is no material risk of interstate war in the next year.

Last update: July 30, 2020

Social Stability

Ongoing social grievances against poverty and youth unemployment increase the likelihood of strikes and protests against the monarchy. Although most protests are likely to be peaceful, Tonga has experienced serious unrest that began as peaceful protests in the recent past. In November 2006, pro-democracy protests in the capital Nuku'alofa degenerated into riots after some demonstrators began attacking government buildings and looting businesses believed to be connected to the Tongan political elite. Before the riot was brought under control, other foreign-owned businesses – particularly those owned by ethnic Chinese and Indians – were burned and looted as well.

Last update: July 30, 2020