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Sao Tome and Principe Economy

    Economy—overview: This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence over 20 years ago. However, cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a significant amount of food. Over the years, it has been unable to service its external debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies, but economic growth has remained sluggish. Sao Tome is also optimistic that significant petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Corruption scandals continue to weaken the economy.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$164 million (1998 est.)

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

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,100 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 23%
    industry: 19%
    services: 58% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

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

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 21% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: NA

    Labor force—by occupation: population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing
    note: there are shortages of skilled workers

    Unemployment rate: 50% in the formal business sector (1998 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $58 million
    expenditures: $114 million, including capital expenditures of $54 million (1993 est.)

    Industries: light construction, textiles, soap, beer; fish processing; timber

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity—production: 15 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 46.67%
    hydro: 53.33%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 15 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish

    Exports: $5.3 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

    Exports—commodities: cocoa 90%, copra, coffee, palm oil (1997)

    Exports—partners: Netherlands 51%, Germany 6%, Portugal 6% (1997)

    Imports: $19.2 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products

    Imports—partners: Portugal 26%, France 18%, Angola, Belgium, Japan (1997)

    Debt—external: $267 million (1997)

    Economic aid—recipient: $57.3 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 dobra (Db) = 100 centimos

    Exchange rates: dobras (Db) per US$1—6,873.5 (October 1998), 4,552.5 (1997), 2,203.2 (1996), 1,420.3 (1995), 732.6 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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