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Central African Republic Economy

    Economy—overview: Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates half of GDP. Timber has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry for nearly 54%. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked position, a poor transportation system, a largely unskilled work force, and a legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. The 50% devaluation of the currencies of 14 Francophone African nations on 12 January 1994 had mixed effects on the CAR's economy. Diamond, timber, coffee, and cotton exports increased, leading an estimated rise of GDP of 7% in 1994 and nearly 5% in 1995. Military rebellions and social unrest in 1996 were accompanied by widespread destruction of property and a drop in GDP of 2%. Ongoing violence between the government and rebel military groups over pay issues, living conditions, and political representation has destroyed many businesses in the capital and reduced tax revenues for the government. The IMF approved an Extended Structure Adjustment Facility in 1998.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$5.5 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 5.5% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,640 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 53%
    industry: 21%
    services: 26% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

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

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.6% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: NA

    Unemployment rate: 6% (1993)

    Budget:
    revenues: $638 million
    expenditures: $1.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $888 million (1994 est.)

    Industries: diamond mining, sawmills, breweries, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity—production: 100 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 20%
    hydro: 80%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 100 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber

    Exports: $182 million (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco

    Exports—partners: Belgium-Luxembourg 36%, Cote d'Ivoire 5%, Spain 4%, Egypt 3%, France

    Imports: $155 million (f.o.b., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products

    Imports—partners: France 30%, Cote d'Ivoire 18%, Cameroon 11%, Germany 4%, Japan

    Debt—external: $930 million (1997 est.)

    Economic aid—recipient: $172.2 million (1995); note—traditional budget subsidies from France

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

    Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—560.01 (December 1998), 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)