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Congo, Republic of the Economy

    Economy—overview: The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on oil, support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. Subsequently, falling oil prices cut GDP growth by half. Moreover, the government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings, contributing to the government's shortage of revenues. The 12 January 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 61% in 1994 but inflation has subsided since. Economic reform efforts continued with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF. The reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, who returned to power when the war ended in October 1997, publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices in 1998, which worsened the Republic of the Congo's budget deficit. A second blow was the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$3.9 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 2.5% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,500 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 10%
    industry: 59%
    services: 31% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (1997 est.)

    Labor force: NA

    Unemployment rate: NA%

    Budget:
    revenues: $870 million
    expenditures: $970 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

    Industries: petroleum extraction, cement kilning, lumbering, brewing, sugar milling, palm oil, soap, cigarette making

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity—production: 438 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 0.68%
    hydro: 99.32%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 553 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 115 million kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: cassava (tapioca), sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa; forest products

    Exports: $1.7 billion (f.o.b., 1997)

    Exports—commodities: petroleum 50%, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds

    Exports—partners: US 37%, Belgium-Luxembourg 34%, Taiwan, China (1997 est.)

    Imports: $803 million (f.o.b. 1997)

    Imports—commodities: intermediate manufactures, capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs, petroleum products

    Imports—partners: France 22%, Italy 16%, US 9%, UK 6% (1997 est.)

    Debt—external: $6 billion (1996)

    Economic aid—recipient: $159.1 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

    Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—550 (January 1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)