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  Field Listing - Economy - overview

Economy - overview
Afghanistan Afghanistan's economic outlook has improved significantly over the past two years because of the infusion of over $2 billion in international assistance, dramatic improvements in agricultural production, and the end of a four-year drought in most of the country. However, Afghanistan remains extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, farming, and trade with neighboring countries. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to raise Afghanistan's living standards up from its current status among the lowest in the world. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs, but the Afghan government and international donors remain committed to improving access to these basic necessities by prioritizing infrastructure development, education, housing development, jobs programs, and economic reform over the next year. Growing political stability and continued international commitment to Afghan reconstruction create an optimistic outlook for maintaining improvements to the Afghan economy in 2004. The replacement of the opium trade - which may account for one-third of GDP - is one of several potential spoilers for the economy over the long term.
Akrotiri Economic activity is limited to providing services to the military and their families located in Akrotiri. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Albania Poor and backward by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more modern open-market economy. The government has taken measures to curb violent crime and to spur economic activity and trade. The economy is bolstered by remittances from abroad of $400-$600 million annually, mostly from Greece and Italy; this helps offset the sizable trade deficit. Agriculture, which accounts for one-half of GDP, is held back because of frequent drought and the need to modernize equipment and consolidate small plots of land. Severe energy shortages and antiquated and inadequate infrastructure make it difficult to attract and sustain foreign investment. The government plans to boost energy imports to relieve the shortages and is moving slowly to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long-standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
Algeria The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the seventh-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the second-largest gas exporter; it ranks 14th in oil reserves. Economic policy reforms supported by the IMF and debt rescheduling from the Paris Club in the past decade have helped improve Algeria's financial and macroeconomic indicators. Because of sustained high oil prices in the past three years, Algeria's finances have further benefited from substantial trade surpluses and record foreign exchange reserves. Real GDP has risen due to higher oil output and increased government spending. The government's continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector, however, has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards. Structural reform within the economy moves ahead slowly.
American Samoa This is a traditional Polynesian economy in which more than 90% of the land is communally owned. Economic activity is strongly linked to the US, with which American Samoa conducts most of its foreign trade. Tuna fishing and tuna processing plants are the backbone of the private sector, with canned tuna the primary export. Transfers from the US Government add substantially to American Samoa's economic well-being. Attempts by the government to develop a larger and broader economy are restrained by Samoa's remote location, its limited transportation, and its devastating hurricanes. Tourism is a promising developing sector.
Andorra Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of neighboring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs. The banking sector, with its "tax haven" status, also contributes substantially to the economy. Agricultural production is limited - only 2% of the land is arable - and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.
Angola Angola has been an economy in disarray because of a quarter century of nearly continuous warfare. An apparently durable peace was established after the death of rebel leader Jonas SAVIMBI on February 22, 2002, but consequences from the conflict continue including the impact of wide-spread land mines. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for 85% of the population. Oil production and the supporting activities are vital to the economy, contributing about 45% to GDP and more than half of exports. Much of the country's food must still be imported. To fully take advantage of its rich natural resources - gold, diamonds, extensive forests, Atlantic fisheries, and large oil deposits - Angola will need to continue reforming government policies and to reduce corruption. While Angola made progress in bringing inflation down further, from 325% in 2000 to about 106% in 2002, the government has failed to make sufficient progress on reforms recommended by the IMF such as increasing foreign exchange reserves and promoting greater transparency in government spending. Increased oil production supported 7% GDP growth in 2003.
Anguilla Anguilla has few natural resources, and the economy depends heavily on luxury tourism, offshore banking, lobster fishing, and remittances from emigrants. Increased activity in the tourism industry, which has spurred the growth of the construction sector, has contributed to economic growth. Anguillan officials have put substantial effort into developing the offshore financial sector, which is small, but growing. In the medium term, prospects for the economy will depend largely on the tourism sector and, therefore, on revived income growth in the industrialized nations as well as on favorable weather conditions.
Antarctica Fishing off the coast and tourism, both based abroad, account for the limited economic activity. Antarctic fisheries in 2000-01 (1 July-30 June) reported landing 112,934 metric tons. Unregulated fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish, is a serious problem. The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources determines the recommended catch limits for marine species. A total of 13,571 tourists visited in the 2002-03 antarctic summer, up from the 11,588 who visited the previous year. Nearly all of them were passengers on commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that make trips during the summer. Most tourist trips last approximately two weeks.
Antigua and Barbuda Tourism continues to dominate the economy, accounting for more than half of GDP. Weak tourist arrival numbers since early 2000 have slowed the economy, however, and pressed the government into a tight fiscal corner. The dual-island nation's agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labor shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction. Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on income growth in the industrialized world, especially in the US, which accounts for slightly more than one-third of tourist arrivals.
Arctic Ocean Economic activity is limited to the exploitation of natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, fish, and seals.
Argentina Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Over the past decade, however, the country has suffered recurring economic problems of inflation, external debt, capital flight, and budget deficits. Growth in 2000 was a negative 0.8%, as both domestic and foreign investors remained skeptical of the government's ability to pay debts and maintain the peso's fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. The economic situation worsened in 2001 with the widening of spreads on Argentine bonds, massive withdrawals from the banks, and a further decline in consumer and investor confidence. Government efforts to achieve a "zero deficit," to stabilize the banking system, and to restore economic growth proved inadequate in the face of the mounting economic problems. The peso's peg to the dollar was abandoned in January 2002, and the peso was floated in February; the exchange rate plunged and inflation picked up rapidly, but by mid-2002 the economy had stabilized, albeit at a lower level. Strong demand for the peso compelled the Central Bank to intervene in foreign exchange markets to curb its appreciation in 2003. Led by record exports, the economy began to recover with output up 8% in 2003, unemployment falling, and inflation reduced to under 4% at year-end.
Armenia Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. Since the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia has switched to small-scale agriculture away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. The agricultural sector has long-term needs for more investment and updated technology. The privatization of industry has been at a slower pace, but has been given renewed emphasis by the current administration. Armenia is a food importer, and its mineral deposits (copper, gold, bauxite) are small. The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the ethnic Armenian-dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the breakup of the centrally directed economic system of the former Soviet Union contributed to a severe economic decline in the early 1990s. By 1994, however, the Armenian Government had launched an ambitious IMF-sponsored economic liberalization program that resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-2003. Armenia joined the WTrO in January 2003. Armenia also has managed to slash inflation, stabilize the local currency (the dram), and privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in the early and mid-1990s have been offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Armenia is now a net energy exporter, although it does not have sufficient generating capacity to replace Metsamor, which is under international pressure to close. The electricity distribution system was privatized in 2002. Armenia's severe trade imbalance has been offset somewhat by international aid and foreign direct investment. Economic ties with Russia remain close, especially in the energy sector.
Aruba Tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy, with offshore banking and oil refining and storage also important. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level. In addition, the reopening of the country's oil refinery in 1993, a major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings, has further spurred growth. Aruba's small labor force and low unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years. Tourist arrivals have declined in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. The government now must deal with a budget deficit and a negative trade balance.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands no economic activity
Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean provides some of the world's most heavily trafficked sea routes, between and within the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Other economic activity includes the exploitation of natural resources, e.g., fishing, the dredging of aragonite sands (The Bahamas), and production of crude oil and natural gas (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and North Sea).
Australia Australia has an enviable Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP on par with the four dominant West European economies. Rising output in the domestic economy has been offsetting the global slump, and business and consumer confidence remains robust. Australia's emphasis on reforms, low inflation, and growing ties with China are other key factors behind the economy's strength. The impact of drought, weak foreign demand, and strong import demand pushed the trade deficit up to $14 billion in 2003 and to $11 billion in 2004 from $5 billion in 2002. One other concern is the domestic housing bubble.
Austria Austria, with its well-developed market economy and high standard of living, is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany's. Membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to EU aspirant economies. Slow growth in Germany and elsewhere in the world held the economy to 0.7% growth in 2001, 1.4% in 2002, and again less than 1% in 2003. However, recent data signal that the recovery has started. The government estimates economic growth in 2004 of 1.7-2.1% and of 2.5% in 2005. The government is planning a EURO 500 billion income tax cut in 2004, though some economists doubt it will have stimulative effects in 2004, because it will be offset by higher health insurance contributions and higher taxes on energy. For 2005, Austria plans a tax cut of EURO 2.5 billion and harmonization of the various pension schemes. To meet increased competition from both EU and Central European countries, particularly the new EU members, Austria will need to emphasize knowledge-based sectors of the economy, continue to deregulate the service sector, and lower its tax burden. A key issue is the encouragement of much greater participation in the labor market by its aging population.
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan's number one export is oil. Azerbaijan's oil production declined through 1997 but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to long-term oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development. Oil production under the first of these PSAs, with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, began in November 1997. Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. One obstacle to economic progress is the need for stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector. A second obstacle is the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region, and Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
Bahamas, The The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago's labor force. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth in recent years, but the slowdown in the US economy and the attacks of 11 September 2001 held back growth in these sectors in 2001-03. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left The Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors. In addition to tourism and banking, the government supports the development of a "third pillar," e-commerce.
Bahrain In well-to-do Bahrain, petroleum production and refining account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP. With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. Bahrain is dependent on Saudi Arabia for oil granted as aid. A large share of exports consist of petroleum products made from refining imported crude. Construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems.
Baker Island no economic activity
Bangladesh Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation. Although half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and corruption at all levels of government. Progress also has been blocked by opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups. The BNP government, led by Prime Minister Khaleda ZIA, has the parliamentary strength to push through needed reforms, but the party's political will to do so has been lacking in key areas. One encouraging note: growth has been a steady 5% for the past several years.
Barbados Historically, the Barbadian economy had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but production in recent years has diversified into light industry and tourism. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatize remaining state-owned enterprises. The economy contracted in 2002-03 mainly due to a decline in tourism. Growth should be positive in 2004, the precise level largely dependent on economic conditions in the US and Europe.
Bassas da India no economic activity
Belarus Belarus' economy in 2003 posted 6.1 percent growth and is likely to continue expanding through 2004, albeit at a slower growth rate. The Belarusian economy in 2004 is likely to be hampered by high inflation, persistent trade deficits, and ongoing rocky relations with Russia, Belarus' largest trading partner and energy supplier. Belarus has seen little structural reform since 1995, when President LUKASHENKO launched the country on the path of "market socialism." In keeping with this policy, LUKASHENKO reimposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state's right to intervene in the management of private enterprises. In addition, businesses have been subject to pressure on the part of central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, retroactive application of new business regulations, and arrests of "disruptive" businessmen and factory owners. A wide range of redistributive policies has helped those at the bottom of the ladder. For the time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from the West and its open-market economies.
Belgium This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is about 100% of GDP, and the government has succeeded in balancing its budget. Belgium, together with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply because of the global economic slowdown. Prospects for 2004 again depend largely on recovery in the EU and the US.
Belize In this small, essentially private enterprise economy the tourism industry is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by cane sugar, citrus, marine products, bananas, and garments. The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth of 6.5% in 1999, 10.8% in 2000, 4.6% in 2001, and 3.7% in 2002. Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and foreign debt. A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.
Benin The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a stable 5% in the past six years, but rapid population rise has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. The 2001 privatization policy should continue in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of initial government reluctance. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, while pressing for speeded-up structural reforms.
Bermuda Bermuda enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, equal to that of the US. Its economy is primarily based on providing financial services for international business and luxury facilities for tourists. The effects of 11 September 2001 have had both positive and negative ramifications for Bermuda. On the positive side, a number of new reinsurance companies have located on the island, contributing to the expansion of an already robust international business sector. On the negative side, Bermuda's tourism industry - which derives over 80% of its visitors from the US - was severely hit as American tourists chose not to travel. Tourism rebounded somewhat in 2002-03. Most capital equipment and food must be imported. Bermuda's industrial sector is small, although construction continues to be important; the average cost of a house in June 2003 had risen to $976,000. Agriculture is limited, only 6% of the land being arable.
Bhutan The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than 90% of the population. Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and dependence on India's financial assistance. The industrial sector is technologically backward, with most production of the cottage industry type. Most development projects, such as road construction, rely on Indian migrant labor. Bhutan's hydropower potential and its attraction for tourists are key resources. Model education, social, and environment programs are underway with support from multilateral development organizations. Each economic program takes into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector encourages the visits of upscale, environmentally conscientious visitors. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas like industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.
Bolivia Bolivia, long one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries, made considerable progress in the 1990s toward the development of a market-oriented economy. Successes under President SANCHEZ DE LOZADA (1993-97) included the signing of a free trade agreement with Mexico and becoming an associate member of the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur), as well as the privatization of the state airline, telephone company, railroad, electric power company, and oil company. Growth slowed in 1999, in part due to tight government budget policies, which limited needed appropriations for anti-poverty programs, and the fallout from the Asian financial crisis. In 2000, major civil disturbances held down growth to 2.5%. Bolivia's GDP failed to grow in 2001 due to the global slowdown and laggard domestic activity. Growth picked up slightly in 2002, but the first quarter of 2003 saw extensive civil riots and looting and loss of confidence in the government. Bolivia will remain highly dependent on foreign aid unless and until it can develop its substantial natural resources.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation. Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food. Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure of Yugoslavia. TITO had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia hosted a number of Yugoslavia's defense plants. The interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000-02. Part of the lag in output was made up in 2003-04. National-level statistics are limited. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of black market activity. The konvertibilna marka (convertible mark or BAM)- the national currency introduced in 1998 - is now pegged to the euro, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, has been slow, and local entities only reluctantly support national-level institutions. Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the Communist-era payments bureaus were shut down. The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.
Botswana Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest growth rates since independence in 1966. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $8,800 in 2003. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for more than one-third of GDP and for nine-tenths of export earnings. Tourism, subsistence farming, and cattle raising are other key sectors. On the downside, the government must deal with high rates of unemployment and poverty. Unemployment officially is 21%, but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. HIV/AIDS infection rates are the highest in the world and threaten Botswana's impressive economic gains. Long-term prospects are overshadowed by the expected leveling off in diamond mining production.
Bouvet Island no economic activity; declared a nature reserve
Brazil Possessing large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries and is expanding its presence in world markets. From 2001-03 real wages fell and Brazil's economy grew, on average, only 1.1% per year, as the country absorbed a series of domestic and international economic shocks. That Brazil absorbed these shocks without financial collapse is a tribute to the resiliency of the Brazilian economy and the economic program put in place by former President CARDOSO and strengthened by President Lula DA SILVA. The three pillars of the economic program are a floating exchange rate, an inflation-targeting regime, and tight fiscal policy, which have been reinforced by a series of IMF programs. The currency depreciated sharply in 2001 and 2002, which contributed to a dramatic current account adjustment: in 2003, Brazil ran a record trade surplus and recorded the first current account surplus since 1992. While economic management has been good, there remain important economic vulnerabilities. The most significant are debt-related: the government's largely domestic debt increased steadily from 1994 to 2003, straining government finances, while Brazil's foreign debt (a mix of private and public debt) is large in relation to Brazil's modest (but growing) export base. Another challenge is maintaining economic growth over a period of time to generate employment and make the government debt burden more manageable.
British Indian Ocean Territory All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where joint UK-US defense facilities are located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installations are done by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. When the Ilois return, they plan to reestablish sugarcane production and fishing.
British Virgin Islands The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism, generating an estimated 45% of the national income. An estimated 350,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 1998. Tourism suffered in 2002 because of the lackluster US economy. In the mid-1980s, the government began offering offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the islands, and incorporation fees now generate substantial revenues. Roughly 400,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 2000. The adoption of a comprehensive insurance law in late 1994, which provides a blanket of confidentiality with regulated statutory gateways for investigation of criminal offenses, is expected to make the British Virgin Islands even more attractive to international business. Livestock raising is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands' ability to meet domestic food requirements. Because of traditionally close links with the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands has used the dollar as its currency since 1959.
Brunei This small, wealthy economy encompasses a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition. Crude oil and natural gas production account for nearly half of GDP. Per capita GDP is far above most other Third World countries, and substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. The government provides for all medical services and subsidizes rice and housing. Brunei's leaders are concerned that steadily increased integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion, although it became a more prominent player by serving as chairman for the 2000 APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum. Plans for the future include upgrading the labor force, reducing unemployment, strengthening the banking and tourist sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base beyond oil and gas.
Bulgaria Bulgaria, a former communist country striving to enter the European Union, has experienced macroeconomic stability and strong growth since a major economic downturn in 1996 led to the fall of the then socialist government. As a result, the government became committed to economic reform and responsible fiscal planning. A $300 million stand-by agreement negotiated with the IMF at the end of 2001 has supported government efforts to overcome high rates of poverty and unemployment.
Burkina Faso One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso has few natural resources, a fragile soil, and a highly unequal distribution of income. About 90% of the population is engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture, which is vulnerable to variations in rainfall. Cotton is the key crop. Industry remains dominated by unprofitable government-controlled corporations. Following the African franc currency devaluation in January 1994 the government updated its development program in conjunction with international agencies, and exports and economic growth have increased. Maintenance of macroeconomic progress depends on continued low inflation, reduction in the trade deficit, and reforms designed to encourage private investment. The internal crisis in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire continues to hurt trade and industrial prospects and deepens the need for international assistance.
Burma Burma is a resource-rich country that suffers from government controls and abject rural poverty. The military regime took steps in the early 1990s to liberalize the economy after decades of failure under the "Burmese Way to Socialism", but those efforts have since stalled. Burma has been unable to achieve monetary or fiscal stability, resulting in an economy that suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including a steep inflation rate and an official exchange rate that overvalues the Burmese kyat by more than 100 times the market rate. In addition, most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta suppressed the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently ignored the results of the 1990 election. A crisis in the private banking sector in early 2003 followed by economic moves against Burma by the United States, the European Union, and Japan - including a US ban on imports from Burma and a Japanese freeze on new bilateral economic aid - further weakened the Burmese economy. Burma is data poor, and official statistics are often dated and inaccurate. Published estimates of Burma's foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and border trade - often estimated to be one to two times the official economy. Better relations with foreign countries and relaxed controls at home are needed to promote foreign investment, exports, and tourism. In February 2003, a major banking crisis hit the country's 20 private banks, shutting them down and disrupting the economy. In July and August 2003, the United States imposed a ban on all Burmese imports and a ban on provision of financial services, hampering Burma's ability to obtain foreign exchange. As of January 2004, the largest private banks remained moribund, leaving the private sector with little formal access to credit outside of government contracts.
Burundi Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural with roughly 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture. Economic growth depends on coffee and tea exports, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings. The ability to pay for imports, therefore, rests primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices. The Tutsi minority, 14% of the population, dominates the government and the coffee trade at the expense of the Hutu majority, 85% of the population. Since October 1993 an ethnic-based war has resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced 800,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 525,000 others internally. Doubts about the prospects for sustainable peace continue to impede development. Only one in two children go to school, and approximately one in ten adults has HIV/AIDS. Food, medicine, and electricity remain in short supply.
Cambodia Cambodia's economy slowed dramatically in 1997-1998 due to the regional economic crisis, civil violence, and political infighting. Foreign investment and tourism fell off. In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms. Growth resumed and has remained about 5.0% during 2000-2003. Tourism was Cambodia's fastest growing industry, with arrivals up 34% in 2000 and up another 40% in 2001 before the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. Cambodia expects 1 million foreign tourists in 2004. Economic growth has been largely driven by expansion in the clothing sector and tourism. Clothing exports were fostered by the U.S.-Cambodian Bilateral Textile Agreement signed in 1999. Even given Cambodia's recent growth, the long-term development of the economy after decades of war remains a daunting challenge. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. Fear of renewed political instability and a dysfunctional legal system coupled with government corruption discourage foreign investment. The Cambodian government continues to work with bilateral and multilateral donors to address the country's many pressing needs. The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. About 60% of the population is 20 years or younger; most of these citizens will seek to enter the workforce over the course of the next 10 years.
Cameroon Because of its oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. In June 2000, the government completed an IMF-sponsored, three-year structural adjustment program; however, the IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. International oil and cocoa prices have considerable impact on the economy.
Canada As an affluent, high-tech industrial society, Canada today closely resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. As a result of the close cross-border relationship, the economic sluggishness in the United States in 2001-02 had a negative impact on the Canadian economy. Real growth averaged nearly 3% during 1993-2000, but declined in 2001, with moderate recovery in 2002-03. Unemployment is up, with contraction in the manufacturing and natural resource sectors. Nevertheless, given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Two shadows loom, the first being the continuing constitutional impasse between English- and French-speaking areas, which has been raising the specter of a split in the federation. Another long-term concern is the flow south to the US of professionals lured by higher pay, lower taxes, and the immense high-tech infrastructure. A key strength in the economy is the substantial trade surplus. Roughly 90% of the population lives within 160 kilometers of the US border.
Cape Verde This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought. The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for 72% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of agriculture in GDP in 2001 was only 11%, of which fishing accounted for 1.5%. About 82% of food must be imported. The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited. Cape Verde annually runs a high trade deficit, financed by foreign aid and remittances from emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Prospects for 2004 depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program.
Cayman Islands With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 40,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 1998, including almost 600 banks and trust companies; banking assets exceed $500 billion. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Tourism is also a mainstay, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed at the luxury market and caters mainly to visitors from North America. Total tourist arrivals exceeded 1.2 million in 1997, with 600,000 from the US. About 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy one of the highest outputs per capita and one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Central African Republic 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 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. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization, with GDP likely to contract in 2004. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.
Chad Chad's primarily agricultural economy will continue to be boosted by major oilfield and pipeline projects that began in 2000. Over 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and stock raising for its livelihood. Cotton, cattle, and gum arabic provide the bulk of Chad's export earnings, but Chad will begin to export oil in 2004. Chad's economy has long been handicapped by its landlocked position, high energy costs, and a history of instability. Chad relies on foreign assistance and foreign capital for most public and private sector investment projects. A consortium led by two US companies has been investing $3.7 billion to develop oil reserves estimated at 1 billion barrels in southern Chad. Oil production came on stream in late 2003.
Chile Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the recession in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 4.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.1% in 2001 and 2.1% in 2002, largely due to lackluster global growth and the devaluation of the Argentine peso, but recovered to 3.2% in 2003. Unemployment, although declining over the past year, remains stubbornly high, putting pressure on President LAGOS to improve living standards. One bright spot was the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004. In 2004, GDP growth is set to accelerate to more than 4% as copper prices rise, export earnings grow, and foreign direct investment picks up.
China In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, inefficient, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China in 2003 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still poor. Agriculture and industry have posted major gains especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong, opposite Taiwan, and in Shanghai, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. The leadership, however, often has experienced - as a result of its hybrid system - the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (growing income disparities and rising unemployment). China thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) sustain adequate jobs growth for tens of millions of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises, migrants, and new entrants to the work force; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. Beijing says it will intensify efforts to stimulate growth through spending on infrastructure - such as water supply and power grids - and poverty relief and through rural tax reform. Accession to the World Trade Organization helps strengthen its ability to maintain strong growth rates but at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences. China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer internet use. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China's remarkable economic growth. Growing shortages of electric power and raw materials will hold back the expansion of industrial output in 2004.
Christmas Island Phosphate mining had been the only significant economic activity, but in December 1987 the Australian Government closed the mine. In 1991, the mine was reopened. With the support of the government, a $34 million casino opened in 1993. The casino closed in 1998. The Australian Government in 2001 agreed to support the creation of a commercial space-launching site on the island, projected to begin operations in mid-2004
Clipperton Island Although 115 species of fish have been identified in the territorial waters of Clipperton Island, the only economic activity is tuna fishing.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.
Colombia Colombia's economy suffers from weak domestic and foreign demand, austere government budgets, and serious internal armed conflict, but seems poised for recovery. Other economic problems facing President URIBE range from reforming the pension system to reducing high unemployment. Two of Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain future; new exploration is needed to offset declining oil production, while coffee harvests and prices are depressed. On the positive side, several international financial institutions have praised the economic reforms introduced by URIBE, which includes measures designed to reduce the public-sector deficit below 2.5% of GDP in 2004. The government's economic policy and democratic security strategy have engendered a growing sense of confidence in the economy, particularly within the business sector, and GDP growth in 2003 was among the highest in Latin America.
Comoros One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government - which is hampered by internal political disputes - is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate. Increased foreign support is essential if the goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be met. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP.
Congo, Democratic Republic of the The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. The war, which began in August 1998, has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, has increased external debt, and has resulted in the deaths from war, famine, and disease of perhaps 3.5 million people. Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations. Conditions improved in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. Several IMF and World Bank missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President KABILA has begun implementing reforms. Much economic activity lies outside the GDP data. Economic stability, aided by international donors, improved in 2003. New mining contracts have been approved, which - combined with high mineral and metal prices - could improve Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth.
Congo, Republic of the 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. The government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings, contributing to a 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 and the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998, which worsened the republic's budget deficit. The current administration presides over an uneasy internal peace and faces difficult economic problems of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty.
Cook Islands Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure. Agriculture provides the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt. Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled investment and growth.
Coral Sea Islands no economic activity
Costa Rica Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange. Low prices for coffee and bananas have hurt the agricultural sector. The government continues to grapple with its large deficit and massive internal debt. The reduction of inflation remains a difficult problem because of rises in the price of imports, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits. Costa Rica recently concluded negotiations to participate in the US - Central American Free Trade Agreement, which, if ratified by the Costa Rican Legislature, would result in economic reforms and an improved investment climate.
Cote d'Ivoire Cote d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to weather conditions. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, which engage roughly 68% of the population. After several years of lagging performance, the Ivorian economy began a comeback in 1994, due to the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc and improved prices for cocoa and coffee, growth in nontraditional primary exports such as pineapples and rubber, limited trade and banking liberalization, offshore oil and gas discoveries, and generous external financing and debt rescheduling by multilateral lenders and France. Moreover, government adherence to donor-mandated reforms led to a jump in growth to 5% annually during 1996-99. Growth was negative in 2000-03 because of the difficulty of meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and severe civil war. Political uncertainty will continue to cloud the economic outlook in 2004, but rising world prices for cocoa will help both the current account and the government balances.
Croatia Before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Croatia, after Slovenia, was the most prosperous and industrialized area, with a per capita output perhaps one-third above the Yugoslav average. The economy emerged from its mild recession in 2000 with tourism the main factor, but massive structural unemployment remains a key negative element. The government's failure to press the economic reforms needed to spur growth is largely the result of coalition politics and public resistance, particularly from the trade unions. Opponents fear reforms would cut jobs, wages, and social benefits. The government has a heavy back log of civil cases, many involving tenure land. The country is likely to experience only moderate growth without disciplined fiscal and structural reform.
Cuba The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has undertaken limited reforms to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. A major feature of the economy is the dichotomy between relatively efficient export enclaves and inefficient domestic sectors. The average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the depression of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The government reluctantly allows a large dollar market sector, fueled by tourism and remittances from Cubans abroad.
Cyprus The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability in the region and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy is focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the EU. EU-driven tax reforms in 2003 have introduced fiscal imbalances, which, coupled with a sluggish tourism sector, have resulted in growing fiscal deficits. As in the Turkish sector, water shortages are a perennial problem; a few desalination plants are now on-line. After 10 years of drought, the country received substantial rainfall from 2001-03, alleviating immediate concerns. The Turkish Cypriot economy has roughly one-third of the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognized only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing and investment. It remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides grants and loans to support economic development. Ankara provided $200 million in 2002 and pledged $450 million for the 2003-05 period. Future events throughout the island will be highly influenced by the outcome of negotiations on the UN-sponsored agreement to unite the Greek and Turkish areas.
Czech Republic One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has been recovering from recession since mid-1999. Growth in 2000-03 was supported by exports to the EU, primarily to Germany, and a near doubling of foreign direct investment. Domestic demand is playing an ever more important role in underpinning growth as interest rates drop and the availability of credit cards and mortgages increases. High current account deficits - averaging around 5% of GDP in the last several years - could be a persistent problem. Inflation is under control. The EU put the Czech Republic just behind Poland and Hungary in preparations for accession, which will give further impetus and direction to structural reform. Moves to complete banking, telecommunications, and energy privatization will encourage additional foreign investment, while intensified restructuring among large enterprises and banks, and improvements in the financial sector, should strengthen output growth. Nonetheless, revival in the European economies remains essential to stepped-up growth.
Denmark This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, a stable currency, and high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus. Government objectives include streamlining the bureaucracy and further privatization of state assets. The government has been successful in meeting, and even exceeding, the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (a common European currency) of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but Denmark has decided not to join 12 other EU members in the euro; even so, the Danish Krone remains pegged to the euro. Given the sluggish state of the European economy, growth in 2003 was a mere 0.3%.
Dhekelia Economic activity is limited to providing services to the military and their families located in Dhekelia. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Djibouti The economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in northeast Africa. Two-thirds of the inhabitants live in the capital city, the remainder being mostly nomadic herders. Scanty rainfall limits crop production to fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported. Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. It has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of 50% continues to be a major problem. Inflation is not a concern, however, because of the fixed tie of the franc to the US dollar. Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% over the last seven years because of recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees). Faced with a multitude of economic difficulties, the government has fallen in arrears on long-term external debt and has been struggling to meet the stipulations of foreign aid donors.
Dominica The Dominican economy depends on agriculture, primarily bananas, and remains highly vulnerable to climatic conditions and international economic developments. Production of bananas dropped precipitously in 2003, a major reason for the 1% decline in GDP. Tourism increased in 2003 as the government sought to promote Dominica as an "ecotourism" destination. Development of the tourism industry remains difficult, however, because of the rugged coastline, lack of beaches, and the absence of an international airport. The government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy in 2003 - including elimination of price controls, privatization of the state banana company, and tax increases - to address Dominica's economic crisis and to meet IMF targets. In order to diversify the island's production base the government is attempting to develop an offshore financial sector and is planning to construct an oil refinery on the eastern part of the island.
Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean representative democracy which enjoyed GDP growth of more than 7% in 1998-2000. Growth subsequently plummeted as part of the global economic slowdown. Although the country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. Growth turned negative in 2003 with reduced tourism, a major bank fraud, and limited growth in the US economy, the source of 87% of export revenues. Resumption of a badly needed IMF loan was slowed due to government repurchase of electrical power plants.
East Timor In late 1999, about 70% of the economic infrastructure of East Timor was laid waste by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias, and 260,000 people fled westward. Over the next three years, however, a massive international program, manned by 5,000 peacekeepers (8,000 at peak) and 1,300 police officers, led to substantial reconstruction in both urban and rural areas. By mid-2002, all but about 50,000 of the refugees had returned. Growth was held back in 2003 by extensive drought and the gradual winding down of the international presence. The country faces great challenges in continuing the rebuilding of infrastructure, strengthening the infant civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the workforce. One promising long-term project is the planned development of oil and gas resources in nearby waters, but the government faces a substantial financing gap over the next several years before these revenues start flowing into state coffers.
Ecuador Ecuador has substantial petroleum resources, which have accounted for 40% of the country's export earnings and one-fourth of public sector revenues in recent years. Consequently, fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. In the late 1990s, Ecuador suffered its worst economic crisis, with natural disasters and sharp declines in world petroleum prices driving Ecuador's economy into free fall in 1999. Real GDP contracted by more than 6%, with poverty worsening significantly. The banking system also collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt later that year. The currency depreciated by some 70% in 1999, and, on the brink of hyperinflation, the MAHAUD government announced it would dollarize the economy. A coup, however, ousted MAHAUD from office in January 2000, and after a short-lived junta failed to garner military support, Vice President Gustavo NOBOA took over the presidency. In March 2000, Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided the framework for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and growth returned to its pre-crisis levels in the years that followed. Under the administration of Lucio GUTIERREZ, who took office in January 2003, Ecuador benefited from higher world petroleum prices, but the government has made little progress on fiscal reforms and reforms of state-owned enterprises necessary to reduce Ecuador's vulnerability to petroleum price swings and financial crises.
Egypt Lack of substantial progress on economic reform since the mid 1990s has limited foreign direct investment in Egypt and kept annual GDP growth in the range of 2-3 percent in 2001-03. Egyptian officials in late 2003 and early 2004 proposed new privatization and customs reform measures, but the government is likely to pursue these initiatives cautiously and gradually to avoid a public backlash over potential inflation or layoffs associated with the reforms. Monetary pressures on an overvalued Egyptian pound led the government to float the currency in January 2003, leading to a sharp drop in its value and consequent inflationary pressure. The existence of a black market for hard currency is evidence that the government continues to influence the official exchange rate offered in banks. In September 2003, Egyptian officials increased subsidies on basic foodstuffs, helping to calm a frustrated public but widening an already deep budget deficit. Egypt's balance-of-payments position was not hurt by the war in Iraq in 2003, as tourism and Suez Canal revenues fared well. The development of an export market for natural gas is a bright spot for future growth prospects, but improvement in the capital-intensive hydrocarbons sector does little to reduce Egypt's persistent unemployment.
El Salvador With the adoption of the US dollar as its currency, El Salvador has lost control over monetary policy and must concentrate on maintaining a disciplined fiscal policy. GDP per capita is roughly only half that of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, and the distribution of income is highly unequal. The trade deficit has been offset by annual remittances of almost $2 billion from Salvadorans living abroad and external aid. The government is striving to open new export markets, encourage foreign investment, modernize the tax and healthcare systems, and stimulate the sluggish economy.
Equatorial Guinea The discovery and exploitation of large oil reserves have contributed to dramatic economic growth in recent years. Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. Although pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings, the neglect of the rural economy under successive regimes has diminished potential for agriculture-led growth (the government has stated its intention to reinvest some oil revenue into agriculture). A number of aid programs sponsored by the World Bank and the IMF have been cut off since 1993 because of corruption and mismanagement. No longer eligible for concessional financing because of large oil revenues, the government has been unsuccessfully trying to agree on a "shadow" fiscal management program with the World Bank and IMF. Businesses, for the most part, are owned by government officials and their family members. Undeveloped natural resources include titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and alluvial gold. Growth will remain strong in 2004, led by oil.
Eritrea Since independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country. Like the economies of many African nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. The Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 1998-2000 severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP growth fell to zero in 1999 and to -12.1% in 2000. The May 2000 Ethiopian offensive into northern Eritrea caused some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock and 55,000 homes. The attack prevented planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%. Even during the war, Eritrea developed its transportation infrastructure, asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war damaged roads and bridges. Since the war ended, the government has maintained a firm grip on the economy, expanding the use of the military and party-owned businesses to complete Eritrea's development agenda. Erratic rainfall and the delayed demobilization of agriculturalists from the military kept cereal production well below normal, holding down growth in 2002. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy, unemployment, and low skills, and to open its economy to private enterprise so the diaspora's money and expertise can foster economic growth.
Estonia Estonia, as a new member of the World Trade Organization, is steadily moving toward a modern market economy with increasing ties to the West, including the pegging of its currency to the euro. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors. Estonia has been invited to join the European Union and will do so in May 2004. The economy is greatly influenced by developments in Finland, Sweden, Russia, and Germany, four major trading partners. The high current account deficit remains a concern. However, the state budget enjoyed a surplus of $130 million in 2003.
Ethiopia Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $156 million in 2002, but historically low prices have seen many farmers switching to qat to supplement income. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and recurrent drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee production. In November 2001 Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Under Ethiopia's land tenure system, the government owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans. Drought struck again late in 2002, leading to a 2% decline in GDP in 2003. Return to normal weather patterns late in 2003 should help agricultural and GDP growth recover in 2004. The government estimates that annual growth of 7% is needed to reduce poverty.
Europa Island no economic activity
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, but today fishing contributes the bulk of economic activity. In 1987 the government began selling fishing licenses to foreign trawlers operating within the Falklands exclusive fishing zone. These license fees total more than $40 million per year, which goes to support the island's health, education, and welfare system. Squid accounts for 75% of the fish taken. Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Exports feature shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and the sale of postage stamps and coins. The islands are now self-financing except for defense. The British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands in 1993, and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day; to date no exploitable site has been identified. An agreement between Argentina and the UK in 1995 seeks to defuse licensing and sovereignty conflicts that would dampen foreign interest in exploiting potential oil reserves. Tourism, especially eco-tourism, is increasing rapidly, with about 30,000 visitors in 2001. Another large source of income is interest paid on money the government has in the bank. The British military presence also provides a sizeable economic boost.
Faroe Islands The Faroese economy has had a strong performance since 1994, mostly as a result of increasing fish landings and high and stable export prices. Unemployment is falling and there are signs of labor shortages in several sectors. The positive economic development has helped the Faroese Home Rule Government produce increasing budget surpluses, which in turn help to reduce the large public debt, most of it owed to Denmark. However, the total dependence on fishing makes the Faroese economy extremely vulnerable, and the present fishing efforts appear in excess of what is a sustainable level of fishing in the long term. Oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for deposits in the immediate Faroese area, which may eventually lay the basis for a more diversified economy and thus lessen dependence on Danish economic assistance. Aided by a substantial annual subsidy (15% of GDP) from Denmark, the Faroese have a standard of living not far below the Danes and other Scandinavians.
Fiji Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies, though still with a large subsistence sector. Sugar exports and a growing tourist industry - with 300,000 to 400,000 tourists annually - are the major sources of foreign exchange. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Long-term problems include low investment, uncertain land ownership rights, and the government's ability to manage its budget. Yet short-run economic prospects are good, provided tensions do not again erupt between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.
Finland Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy, with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Trade is important, with exports equaling one-third of GDP. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods. Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. Rapidly increasing integration with Western Europe - Finland was one of the 12 countries joining the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) - will dominate the economic picture over the next several years. Growth in 2003 was held back by the global slowdown but will pick up in 2004 provided the world economy suffers no further blows.
France France is in the midst of transition, from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The Socialist-led government partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, but the government retains controlling stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales, and is dominant in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. The current government has lowered income taxes and introduced measures to boost employment. The government is focusing on the problems of the high cost of labor and labor market inflexibility resulting from the 35-hour workweek and restrictions on lay-offs. The government is also pushing for pension reforms and simplification of administrative procedures. The tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe (43.8% of GDP in 2003). The current economic slowdown and inflexible budget items have pushed the 2003 deficit to 4% of GDP, above the EU's 3% debt limit. Business investment remains listless because of low rates of capital utilization, sluggish demand, high debt, and the steep cost of capital.
French Guiana The economy is tied closely to the larger French economy through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou (which accounts for 25% of GDP), fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities. Forest and woodland cover 90% of the country. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry that provides sawn logs for export. Cultivation of crops is limited to the coastal area, where the population is largely concentrated; rice and manioc are the major crops. French Guiana is heavily dependent on imports of food and energy. Unemployment is a serious problem, particularly among younger workers.
French Polynesia Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence agricultural economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industry. With the halt of French nuclear testing in 1996, the military contribution to the economy fell sharply. Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. Other sources of income are pearl farming and deep-sea commercial fishing. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory benefits substantially from development agreements with France aimed principally at creating new businesses and strengthening social services.
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Economic activity is limited to servicing meteorological and geophysical research stations and French and other fishing fleets. The fish catches landed on Iles Kerguelen by foreign ships are exported to France and Reunion.
Gabon Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty; yet because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. Devaluation of its Francophone currency by 50% on 12 January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices in 1999-2000 helped growth, but drops in production hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. In December 2000, Gabon signed a new agreement with the Paris Club to reschedule its official debt. A follow-up bilateral repayment agreement with the US was signed in December 2001. Short-term progress depends on an upbeat world economy and fiscal and other adjustments in line with IMF policies.
Gambia, The The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Reexport trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but a 1999 government-imposed preshipment inspection plan, and instability of the Gambian dalasi (currency) have drawn some of the reexport trade away from The Gambia. The government's 1998 seizure of the private peanut firm Alimenta eliminated the largest purchaser of Gambian groundnuts; the following two marketing seasons have seen substantially lower prices and sales. A decline in tourism in 2000 has also held back growth. Unemployment and underemployment rates are extremely high. Shortrun economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management as forwarded by IMF technical help and advice, and on expected growth in the construction sector.
Gaza Strip Economic output in the Gaza Strip - under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority since the Cairo Agreement of May 1994 - declined by about one-third between 1992 and 1996. The downturn was largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of generalized border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the WBGS (West Bank and Gaza Strip). The most serious negative social effect of this downturn was the emergence of high unemployment; unemployment in the WBGS during the 1980s was generally under 5%; by 1995 it had risen to over 20%. Israel's use of comprehensive closures decreased during the next few years and, in 1998, Israel implemented new policies to reduce the impact of closures and other security procedures on the movement of Palestinian goods and labor. These changes fueled an almost three-year-long economic recovery in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; real GDP grew by 5% in 1998 and 6% in 1999. Recovery was upended in the last quarter of 2000 with the outbreak of violence, triggering tight Israeli closures of Palestinian self-rule areas and a severe disruption of trade and labor movements. In 2001, and even more severely in 2002, Israeli military measures in Palestinian Authority areas resulted in the destruction of capital plant and administrative structure, widespread business closures, and a sharp drop in GDP. Including West Bank, the UN estimates that more than 100,000 Palestinians out of the 125,000 who used to work in Israel, in Israeli settlements, or in joint industrial zones have lost their jobs. In addition, about 80,000 Palestinian workers inside the Territories are losing their jobs. International aid of $2 billion in 2001-02 to the West Bank and Gaza Strip prevented the complete collapse of the economy and allowed Finance Minister Salam FAYYAD to implement several financial and economic reforms. Budgetary support, however, was not as forthcoming in 2003.
Georgia Georgia's main economic activities include the cultivation of agricultural products such as citrus fruits, tea, hazelnuts, and grapes; mining of manganese and copper; and output of a small industrial sector producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals. The country imports the bulk of its energy needs, including natural gas and oil products. Its only sizable internal energy resource is hydropower. Despite the severe damage the economy has suffered due to civil strife, Georgia, with the help of the IMF and World Bank, has made substantial economic gains since 1995, achieving positive GDP growth and curtailing inflation. However, the Georgian Government suffers from limited resources due to a chronic failure to collect tax revenues. Georgia also suffers from energy shortages; it privatized the T'bilisi distribution network in 1998, but collection rates are low, making the venture unprofitable. The country is pinning its hopes for long-term growth on its role as a transit state for pipelines and trade. The start of construction on the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-T'bilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline will bring much-needed investment and job opportunities.
Germany Germany's affluent and technologically powerful economy- the fifth largest national economy in the world - has become one of the slowest growing economies in the entire euro zone, and a quick turnaround is not in the offing in the foreseeable future. Growth in 2001-03 fell short of 1%. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term process, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $70 billion. Germany's ageing population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers. Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could allow Germany to meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, particularly if labor market rigidities are further addressed. The government is also starting long-needed structural reforms designed to revitalize the country's economy. In the short run, however, the fall in government revenues and the rise in expenditures have raised the deficit above the EU's 3% debt limit.
Ghana Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 35% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002. Policy priorities include tighter monetary and fiscal policies, accelerated privatization, and improvement of social services. Receipts from the gold sector should help sustain GDP growth in 2004. Inflation should ease, but remain a major internal problem.
Gibraltar Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. The financial sector, tourism (almost 5 million visitors in 1998), shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, the shipping sector, and tourism each contribute 25%-30% of GDP. Telecommunications accounts for another 10%. In recent years, Gibraltar has seen major structural change from a public to a private sector economy, but changes in government spending still have a major impact on the level of employment.
Glorioso Islands no economic activity
Greece Greece has a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for half of GDP and with per capita GDP 70% of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in menial jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of GDP. The Greek economy grew by 4.0% in 2003 and is expected to grow by 4.2% in 2004, the year that Athens will host the 2004 Olympic Games. Remaining challenges include the reduction of the public debt, inflation, and unemployment; and further restructuring of the economy, including privatizing several state enterprises, undertaking pension and other reforms, and minimizing bureaucratic inefficiencies.
Greenland The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and substantial support from the Danish Government, which supplies about half of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly-owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy. Despite several interesting hydrocarbon and minerals exploration activities, it will take several years before production can materialize. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs.
Grenada Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange, especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of an offshore financial industry, have also contributed to growth in national output.
Guadeloupe The Caribbean economy depends on agriculture, tourism, light industry, and services. It also depends on France for large subsidies and imports. Tourism is a key industry, with most tourists from the US; an increasingly large number of cruise ships visit the islands. The traditional sugarcane crop is slowly being replaced by other crops, such as bananas (which now supply about 50% of export earnings), eggplant, and flowers. Other vegetables and root crops are cultivated for local consumption, although Guadeloupe is still dependent on imported food, mainly from France. Light industry features sugar and rum production. Most manufactured goods and fuel are imported. Unemployment is especially high among the young. Hurricanes periodically devastate the economy.
Guam The economy depends on US military spending, tourism, and the export of fish and handicrafts. Total US grants, wage payments, and procurement outlays amounted to $1 billion in 1998. Over the past 20 years, the tourist industry has grown rapidly, creating a construction boom for new hotels and the expansion of older ones. More than 1 million tourists visit Guam each year. The industry had recently suffered setbacks because of the continuing Japanese slowdown; the Japanese normally make up almost 90% of the tourists. Most food and industrial goods are imported. Guam faces the problem of building up the civilian economic sector to offset the impact of military downsizing.
Guatemala Guatemala is the largest and most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. The 1996 signing of peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, but widespread political violence and corruption scandals continue to dampen investor confidence. The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with perhaps 75% of the population below the poverty line. Ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, upgrading both government and private financial operations, curtailing drug trafficking, and narrowing the trade deficit.
Guernsey Financial services - banking, fund management, insurance, etc. - account for about 55% of total income in this tiny Channel Island economy. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular tax haven. The evolving economic integration of the EU nations is changing the environment under which Guernsey operates.
Guinea Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains an underdeveloped nation. The country possesses over 30% of the world's bauxite reserves and is the second-largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for about 75% of exports in 1999. Long-run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. Fighting along the Sierra Leonean and Liberian borders, as well as refugee movements, have caused major economic disruptions, including a loss in investor confidence. Foreign mining companies have reduced expatriate staff, while panic buying has created food shortages and inflation in local markets. Guinea is not receiving multilateral aid. The IMF and World Bank cut off most assistance in 2003. Growth should strengthen in 2004, however, because of a slowly improving security situation and increased investor confidence.
Guinea-Bissau One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau depends mainly on farming and fishing. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years, and the country now ranks sixth in cashew production. Guinea-Bissau exports fish and seafood along with small amounts of peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. Rice is the major crop and staple food. However, intermittent fighting between Senegalese-backed government troops and a military junta destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and caused widespread damage to the economy in 1998; the civil war led to a 28% drop in GDP that year, with partial recovery in 1999-2002. Before the war, trade reform and price liberalization were the most successful part of the country's structural adjustment program under IMF sponsorship. The tightening of monetary policy and the development of the private sector had also begun to reinvigorate the economy. Because of high costs, the development of petroleum, phosphate, and other mineral resources is not a near-term prospect. However, unexploited offshore oil reserves could provide much-needed revenue in the long run. The inequality of income distribution is one of the most extreme in the world. The government and international donors continue to work out plans to forward economic development from a lamentably low base. Government drift and indecision, however, have resulted in low growth in 2002-03 and dim prospects for 2004.
Guyana The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in 2001-02, based on expansion in the agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiatives, a more realistic exchange rate, fairly low inflation, and the continued support of international organizations. Growth then slowed in 2003. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure. The government is juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. The bauxite mining sector should benefit in the near term by restructuring and partial privatization.
Haiti In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming. Following legislative elections in May 2000, fraught with irregularities, international donors - including the US and EU - suspended almost all aid to Haiti. The economy shrank an estimated 1.2% in 2001 and an estimated 0.9% in 2002. Suspended aid and loan disbursements totaled more than $500 million at the start of 2003. Haiti also suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of investment, and a severe trade deficit. The resumption of aid flows from all donors will alleviate but not end the nation's bitter economic problems. Extensive civil strife in early 2004, marked by the flight of President ARISTIDE, further impoverished Haiti.
Heard Island and McDonald Islands No indigenous economic activity, but the Australian Government allows limited fishing around the islands.
Holy See (Vatican City) This unique, noncommercial economy is supported financially by an annual contribution from Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the world, as well as by special collections (known as Peter's Pence); the sale of postage stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; fees for admission to museums; and the sale of publications. Investments and real estate income also account for a sizable portion of revenue. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.
Honduras Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere with an extraordinarily unequal distribution of income and massive unemployment, is banking on expanded trade privileges under the Enhanced Caribbean Basin Initiative and on debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. While the country has met most of its macroeconomic targets, it has failed to meet the IMF's goals to liberalize its energy and telecommunications sectors. Growth remains dependent on the status of the US economy, its major trading partner, on commodity prices, particularly coffee, and on reduction of the high crime rate.
Hong Kong Hong Kong has a free market economy highly dependent on international trade. Natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. Imports and exports, including reexports, each exceed GDP in dollar value. Even before Hong Kong reverted to Chinese administration on 1 July 1997 it had extensive trade and investment ties with China. Hong Kong has been further integrating its economy with China because China's growing openness to the world economy has increased competitive pressure on Hong Kong's service industries, and Hong Kong's re-export business from China is a major driver of growth. Per capita GDP compares with the level in the four big economies of Western Europe. GDP growth averaged a strong 5% in 1989-1997, but Hong Kong suffered two recessions in the past 6 years because of the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and the global downturn of 2001-2002. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak also battered Hong Kong's economy, but a boom in tourism from the mainland because of China's easing of travel restrictions, a return of consumer confidence, and a solid rise in exports resulted in the resumption of strong growth in late 2003.
Howland Island no economic activity
Hungary Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capita income one-half that of the Big Four European nations. Hungary continues to demonstrate strong economic growth and joined the European Union in May 2004. The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totaling more than $23 billion since 1989. Hungarian sovereign debt was upgraded in 2000 to the second-highest rating among all the Central European transition economies. Inflation has declined substantially, from 14% in 1998 to 4.7% in 2003; unemployment has persisted around the 6% level. Germany is by far Hungary's largest economic partner. Short-term issues include the reduction of the public sector deficit and further increasing the flexibility of the labor markets.
Iceland Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system (including generous housing subsidies), low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant geothermal power), the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 70% of export earnings and employs 12% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Government policies include reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, and new developments in software production, biotechnology, and financial services are taking place. The tourism sector is also expanding, with the recent trends in ecotourism and whale watching. Growth had been remarkably steady in 1996-2001 at 3%-5%, but could not be sustained in 2002 in an environment of global recession. Growth resumed in 2003, and inflation dropped back from 5% to 2%.
India India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. Government controls have been reduced on foreign trade and investment, and privatization of domestic output has proceeded slowly. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of 6% since 1990, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers. Despite strong growth, the World Bank and others worry about the continuing public-sector budget deficit, running at approximately 60% of GDP.
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean provides major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. It carries a particularly heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia. Its fish are of great and growing importance to the bordering countries for domestic consumption and export. Fishing fleets from Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan also exploit the Indian Ocean, mainly for shrimp and tuna. Large reserves of hydrocarbons are being tapped in the offshore areas of Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, and western Australia. An estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. Beach sands rich in heavy minerals and offshore placer deposits are actively exploited by bordering countries, particularly India, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Indonesia Indonesia, a vast polyglot nation, faces economic development problems stemming from recent acts of terrorism, unequal resource distribution among regions, endemic corruption, the lack of reliable legal recourse in contract disputes, weaknesses in the banking system, and a generally poor climate for foreign investment. Indonesia withdrew from its IMF program at the end of 2003, but issued a "White Paper" that commits the government to maintaining fundamentally sound macroeconomic policies previously established under IMF guidelines. Investors, however, continued to face a host of on-the-ground microeconomic problems and an inadequate judicial system. Keys to future growth remain internal reform, building up the confidence of international and domestic investors, and strong global economic growth.
Iran Iran's economy is marked by a bloated, inefficient state sector, over reliance on the oil sector, and statist policies that create major distortions throughout. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically small-scale - workshops, farming, and services. President KHATAMI has continued to follow the market reform plans of former President RAFSANJANI, with limited progress. Relatively high oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass some $22 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. In December 2003 a major earthquake devastated the city of Bam in southeastern Iran, killing more than 30,000 people.
Iraq Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from that war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program beginning in December 1996 helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and some infrastructure spare parts. In December 1999, the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. The drop in GDP in 2001-02 was largely the result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices. Per capita food imports increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services steadily improved. Per capita output and living standards were still well below the pre-1991 level, but any estimates have a wide range of error. The military victory of the US-led coalition in March-April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the central economic administrative structure, but with the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant. The rebuilding of oil, electricity, and other production is proceeding steadily at the start of 2004 with foreign support and despite the continuation of severe internal strife. A joint UN and World Bank report released in the fall of 2003 estimated that Iraq's key reconstruction needs through 2007 would cost $55 billion. In October 2003, international donors pledged assistance worth more than $33 billion toward this rebuilding effort.
Ireland Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust 8% in 1995-2002. The global slowdown, especially in the information technology sector, pressed growth down to 2.1% in 2003. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Industry accounts for 46% of GDP and about 80% of exports and employs 28% of the labor force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland's growth, the economy has also benefited from a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment. Per capita GDP is 10% above that of the four big European economies. Over the past decade, the Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations.
Israel Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict; difficulties in the high-technology, construction, and tourist sectors; and fiscal austerity in the face of growing inflation led to small declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002. The economy grew at 1% in 2003, with improvements in tourism and foreign direct investment. In 2004, rising business and consumer confidence - as well as higher demand for Israeli exports boosted GDP by 2.7%.
Italy Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed, welfare-dependent agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions.
Jamaica The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. The global economic slowdown, particularly after the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, stunted economic growth; the economy rebounded moderately in 2003, with one of the best tourist seasons on record. But the economy faces serious long-term problems: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a sizable merchandise trade deficit; large-scale unemployment; and a growing internal debt, the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy. The ratio of debt to GDP is close to 150%. Inflation, previously a bright spot, is expected to remain in the double digits. Depressed economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade. In 2004, the government faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.
Jan Mayen Jan Mayen is a volcanic island with no exploitable natural resources. Economic activity is limited to providing services for employees of Norway's radio and meteorological stations on the island.
Japan Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically-powerful economy in the world after the US and third-largest economy after the US and China. One notable characteristic of the economy is the working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in closely-knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding. Industry, the most important sector of the economy, is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self-sufficient in rice, Japan must import about 50% of its requirements of other grain and fodder crops. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch. For three decades overall real economic growth had been spectacular: a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, averaging just 1.7%, largely because of the after effects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met with little success and were further hampered in 2000-2003 by the slowing of the US, European, and Asian economies. Japan's huge government debt, which totals more than 150% of GDP, and the ageing of the population are two major long-run problems. Robotics constitutes a key long-term economic strength with Japan possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000 "working robots." Internal conflict over the proper way to reform the ailing banking system continues.
Jarvis Island no economic activity
Jersey The economy is based largely on international financial services, agriculture, and tourism. Potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, and especially flowers are important export crops, shipped mostly to the UK. The Jersey breed of dairy cattle is known worldwide and represents an important export income earner. Milk products go to the UK and other EU countries. In 1996 the finance sector accounted for about 60% of the island's output. Tourism, another mainstay of the economy, accounts for 24% of GDP. In recent years, the government has encouraged light industry to locate in Jersey, with the result that an electronics industry has developed alongside the traditional manufacturing of knitwear. All raw material and energy requirements are imported, as well as a large share of Jersey's food needs. Light taxes and death duties make the island a popular tax haven.
Johnston Atoll Economic activity is limited to providing services to US military personnel and contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Jordan Jordan is a small Arab country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources such as oil. Debt, poverty, and unemployment are fundamental problems, but King ABDALLAH, since assuming the throne in 1999, has undertaken some broad economic reforms in a long-term effort to improve living standards. 'Amman in the past three years has worked closely with the IMF, practiced careful monetary policy, and made substantial headway with privatization. The government also has liberalized the trade regime sufficiently to secure Jordan's membership in the WTrO (2000), a free trade accord with the US (2000), and an association agreement with the EU (2001). These measures have helped improve productivity and have put Jordan on the foreign investment map. The US-led war in Iraq in 2003 dealt an economic blow to Jordan, which was dependent on Iraq for discounted oil (worth $300-$600 million a year). Several Gulf nations have provided temporary aid to compensate for the loss of this oil; when this foreign aid expires, the Jordanian government has pledged to raise retail petroleum product prices and the sales tax base. Other ongoing challenges include fiscal adjustment to reduce the budget deficit, broader investment incentives to promote job-creating ventures, and the encouragement of tourism.
Juan de Nova Island Up to 12,000 tons of guano are mined per year.
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also is a large agricultural - livestock and grain - producer. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a growing machine-building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse in demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products resulted in a short-term contraction of the economy, with the steepest annual decline occurring in 1994. In 1995-97, the pace of the government program of economic reform and privatization quickened, resulting in a substantial shifting of assets into the private sector. Kazakhstan enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01 - and a solid 9.5% in 2002 - thanks largely to its booming energy sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests, and foreign investment. The opening of the Caspian Consortium pipeline in 2001, from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield to the Black Sea, substantially raised export capacity. The country has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector, by developing light industry. Additionally, the policy aims to reduce the influence of foreign investment and foreign personnel; the government has engaged in several disputes with foreign oil companies over the terms of production agreements, and tensions continue.
Kenya The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption, notably in the judicial system, and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government's failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya's problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anticorruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya's economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key 27 December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap MOI's 24-year-old reign ended, and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. In 2003, progress was made in rooting out corruption, and encouraging donor support, with GDP growth edging up to 1.7%.
Kingman Reef no economic activity
Kiribati A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted at the time of independence from the UK in 1979. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports. The economy has fluctuated widely in recent years. Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of GDP. The financial sector is at an early stage of development as is the expansion of private sector initiatives. Foreign financial aid from UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China equals 25%-50% of GDP. Remittances from workers abroad account for more than $5 million each year.
Korea, North North Korea, one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel. The nation has suffered its tenth year of food shortages because of a lack of arable land, collective farming, weather-related problems, and chronic shortages of fertilizer and fuel. Massive international food aid deliveries have allowed the regime to escape mass starvation since 1995-96, but the population remains the victim of prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. In 2003, heightened political tensions with key donor countries and general donor fatigue threatened the flow of desperately needed food aid and fuel aid as well. Black market prices continued to rise following the increase in official prices and wages in the summer of 2002, leaving some vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and unemployed, less able to buy goods. The regime, however, relaxed restrictions on farmers' market activities in spring 2003, leading to an expansion of market activity.
Korea, South Since the early 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Four decades ago GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is 18 times North Korea's and equal to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged to a negative 6.6% in 1998, then strongly recovered to 10.8% in 1999 and 9.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 6.2%, despite anemic global growth, followed by moderate 2.8% growth in 2003. In 2003 the National Assembly approved legislation reducing the six-day work week to five days.
Kuwait Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of about 98 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. Kuwait's climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country.
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural economy. Cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, and natural gas and electricity. Kyrgyzstan has been fairly progressive in carrying out market reforms, such as an improved regulatory system and land reform. Kyrgyzstan was the first CIS country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. With fits and starts, inflation has been lowered to an estimated 7% in 2001, 2.1% in 2002, and 4.0% in 2003. Much of the government's stock in enterprises has been sold. Drops in production had been severe after the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but by mid-1995 production began to recover and exports began to increase. Kyrgyzstan has distinguished itself by adopting relatively liberal economic policies. The drop in output at the Kumtor gold mine sparked a 0.5% decline in GDP in 2002, but GDP growth bounced back to 6% in 2003. The government has made steady strides in controlling its substantial fiscal deficit and aims to reduce the deficit to 4.4 percent of GDP in 2004. The government and the international financial institutions have been engaged in a comprehensive medium-term poverty reduction and economic growth strategy. Further restructuring of domestic industry and success in attracting foreign investment are keys to future growth.
Laos The government of Laos - one of the few remaining official Communist states - began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. The results, starting from an extremely low base, were striking - growth averaged 7% in 1988-2001 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis beginning in 1997. Despite this high growth rate, Laos remains a country with a primitive infrastructure; it has no railroads, a rudimentary road system, and limited external and internal telecommunications. Electricity is available in only a few urban areas. Subsistence agriculture accounts for half of GDP and provides 80% of total employment. The economy will continue to benefit from aid from the IMF and other international sources and from new foreign investment in food processing and mining.
Latvia Latvia's transitional economy recovered from the 1998 Russian financial crisis, largely due to the SKELE government's budget stringency and a gradual reorientation of exports toward EU countries, lessening Latvia's trade dependency on Russia. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. Preparing for EU membership continues as a top foreign policy goal. The current account and internal government deficits remain major concerns, but the government's efforts to increase efficiency in revenue collection may lessen the budget deficit.
Lebanon The 1975-91 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Peace enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery was helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers. Family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid provided the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon's economy made impressive gains since the launch in 1993 of "Horizon 2000," the government's $20 billion reconstruction program. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994, 7% in 1995, 4% in 1996 and in 1997, but slowed to 1.2% in 1998, -1.6% in 1999, -0.6% in 2000, 0.8% in 2001, 1.5% in 2002, and 3% in 2003. During the 1990s, annual inflation fell to almost 0% from more than 100%. Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has funded reconstruction by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In order to reduce the ballooning national debt, the re-installed HARIRI government began an economic austerity program to rein in government expenditures, increase revenue collection, and privatize state enterprises. The HARIRI government met with international donors at the Paris II conference in November 2002 to seek bilateral assistance restructuring its domestic debt at lower rates of interest. While privatization of state-owned enterprises had not occurred by the end of 2003, massive receipts from donor nations stabilized government finances in 2002-04.
Lesotho Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho relies on remittances from miners employed in South Africa and customs duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union for the majority of government revenue, but the government has strengthened its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties. Completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa, also generating royalties for Lesotho. As the number of mineworkers has declined steadily over the past several years, a small manufacturing base has developed based on farm products that support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries and a rapidly growing apparel-assembly sector. The economy is still primarily based on subsistence agriculture, especially livestock, although drought has decreased agricultural activity. The extreme inequality in the distribution of income remains a major drawback. Lesotho has signed an Interim Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF.
Liberia Civil war and misgovernment have destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia. Many businessmen have fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some have returned, many will not. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products - primarily raw timber and rubber. Local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. The departure of the former president, Charles TAYLOR, to Nigeria in August 2003, the establishment of the all-inclusive National Transition Government of Liberia (NTGL), and the arrival of a UN mission are all encouraging signs that the political crisis is coming to an end. The restoration of infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy depend on the implementation of sound macro- and micro-economic policies, including the encouragement of foreign investment, and generous support from donor countries.
Libya The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute practically all export earnings and about one-quarter of GDP. These oil revenues and a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Libyan officials in the past three years have made progress on economic reforms as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and as Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction. Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps - including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization - are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for about 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminum. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food.
Liechtenstein Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and living standards on a par with its large European neighbors. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding or so-called letter box companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 90% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organization serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
Lithuania Lithuania, the Baltic state that has conducted the most trade with Russia, has slowly rebounded from the 1998 Russian financial crisis. Unemployment remains high, still 10.7% in 2003, but is improving. Growing domestic consumption and increased investment have furthered recovery. Trade has been increasingly oriented toward the West. Lithuania has gained membership in the World Trade Organization and has moved ahead with plans to join the EU. Privatization of the large, state-owned utilities, particularly in the energy sector, is nearing completion. Overall, more than 80% of enterprises have been privatized. Foreign government and business support have helped in the transition from the old command economy to a market economy.
Luxembourg This stable, high-income economy features solid growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, initially dominated by steel, has become increasingly diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. Growth in the financial sector, which now accounts for about 22% of GDP, has more than compensated for the decline in steel. Most banks are foreign-owned and have extensive foreign dealings. Agriculture is based on small family-owned farms. The economy depends on foreign and trans-border workers for more than 30% of its labor force. Although Luxembourg, like all EU members, has suffered from the global economic slump, the country has maintained a fairly strong growth rate and enjoys an extraordinarily high standard of living.
Macau Macau's well-to-do economy has remained one of the most open in the world since its reversion to China in 1999. The territory's net exports of goods and services account for roughly 41% of GDP with tourism and apparel exports as the mainstays. Although the territory was hit hard by the 1998 Asian financial crisis and the global downturn in 2001, its economy grew 9.5% in 2002. A rapid rise in the number of mainland visitors because of China's easing of restrictions on travel drove the recovery. The budget also returned to surplus in 2002 because of the surge in visitors from China and a hike in taxes on gambling profits, which generated about 70% of government revenue. The liberalization of Macao's gambling monopoly contributes to GDP growth, as the three companies awarded gambling licenses have pledged to invest $2.2 billion in the territory. Much of Macau's textile industry may move to the mainland as the Multi-Fiber Agreement is phased out. The territory may have to rely more on gambling and trade-related services to generate growth. The government estimated GDP growth at 4% in 2003 with the drop in large measure due to concerns over the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), but private sector analysts think the figure may have been higher because of the continuing boom in tourism.
Macedonia At independence in September 1991, Macedonia was the least developed of the Yugoslav republics, producing a mere 5% of the total federal output of goods and services. The collapse of Yugoslavia ended transfer payments from the center and eliminated advantages from inclusion in a de facto free trade area. An absence of infrastructure, UN sanctions on Yugoslavia, one of its largest markets, and a Greek economic embargo over a dispute about the country's constitutional name and flag hindered economic growth until 1996. GDP subsequently rose each year through 2000. However, the leadership's commitment to economic reform, free trade, and regional integration was undermined by the ethnic Albanian insurgency of 2001. The economy shrank 4.5% because of decreased trade, intermittent border closures, increased deficit spending on security needs, and investor uncertainty. Growth barely recovered in 2002 to 0.9%, then rose to 2.8% in 2003. Unemployment at one-third of the workforce remains the most critical economic problem. The gray economy is estimated at around 40% of GDP. Politically, the country is more stable than in 2002.
Madagascar Having discarded past socialist economic policies, Madagascar has since the mid 1990s followed a World Bank and IMF led policy of privatization and liberalization. This strategy has placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing four-fifths of the population. Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the United States. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel are serious concerns. President RAVALOMANANA has worked aggressively to revive the economy following the 2002 political crisis, which triggered a 12% drop in GDP that year. Poverty reduction and combating corruption will be the centerpieces of economic policy for the next few years.
Malawi Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounted for nearly 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues in 2001. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In late 2000, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. In November 2002 the World Bank approved a $50 million drought recovery package, which is to be used for famine relief. The government faces strong challenges, e.g., to fully develop a market economy, to improve educational facilities, to face up to environmental problems, to deal with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS, and to satisfy foreign donors that fiscal discipline is being tightened. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for over 50% of exports.
Malaysia Malaysia, a middle-income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth was almost exclusively driven by exports - particularly of electronics. As a result Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001 and 2002. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.5% due to an estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus package equal to US $1.9 billion mitigated the worst of the recession and the economy rebounded in 2002 with a 4.1% increase. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003, notwithstanding a difficult first half, when external pressures from SARS and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community. Healthy foreign exchange reserves and a relatively small external debt make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a crisis similar to the one in 1997, but the economy remains vulnerable to a more protracted slowdown in Japan and the US, top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment. The Malaysian ringgit is pegged to the dollar, and the Japanese central bank continues to intervene and prop up the yen against the dollar.
Maldives Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 20% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is a second leading sector. The Maldivian Government began an economic reform program in 1989 initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 18% of GDP. Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is one meter or less above sea level.
Mali Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export, along with gold. The government has continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment. Mali's adherence to economic reform and the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994 have pushed up economic growth to a sturdy 5% average in 1996-2002. Worker remittances and external trade routes have been jeopardized by continued unrest in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire.
Malta Major resources are limestone, a favorable geographic location, and a productive labor force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism. Malta is privatizing state-controlled firms and liberalizing markets in order to prepare for membership in the European Union. The island remains divided politically, however, over the question of joining the EU. Continued sluggishness in the global economy is holding back exports, tourism, and overall growth.
Man, Isle of Offshore banking, manufacturing, and tourism are key sectors of the economy. The government's policy of offering incentives to high-technology companies and financial institutions to locate on the island has paid off in expanding employment opportunities in high-income industries. As a result, agriculture and fishing, once the mainstays of the economy, have declined in their shares of GDP. Trade is mostly with the UK. The Isle of Man enjoys free access to EU markets.
Marshall Islands US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. Agricultural production is primarily subsistence and is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. The tourist industry, now a small source of foreign exchange employing less than 10% of the labor force, remains the best hope for future added income. The islands have few natural resources, and imports far exceed exports. Under the terms of the Compact of Free Association, the US has provided more than $1 billion in aid since 1986. Negotiations have continued for an extended agreement. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties, and less income from the renewal of fishing vessel licenses have held GDP growth to an average of 1% over the past decade.
Martinique The economy is based on sugarcane, bananas, tourism, and light industry. Agriculture accounts for about 6% of GDP and the small industrial sector for 11%. Sugar production has declined, with most of the sugarcane now used for the production of rum. Banana exports are increasing, going mostly to France. The bulk of meat, vegetable, and grain requirements must be imported, contributing to a chronic trade deficit that requires large annual transfers of aid from France. Tourism, which employs more than 11,000 people, has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange.
Mauritania Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many of the nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for nearly 40% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deepwater port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In the past, drought and economic mismanagement resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In February 2000, Mauritania qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and in December 2001 received strong support from donor and lending countries at a triennial Consultative Group review. In 2001, exploratory oil wells in tracts 80 km offshore indicated potential extraction at current world oil prices. A new investment code approved in December 2001 improved the opportunities for direct foreign investment. Ongoing negotiations with the IMF involve problems of economic reforms and fiscal discipline. Substantial oil production and exports probably will not begin until 2005. Meantime the government emphasizes reduction of poverty, improvement of health and education, and promoting privatization of the economy.
Mauritius Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector and responsible fiscal management, has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Mayotte Economic activity is based primarily on the agricultural sector, including fishing and livestock raising. Mayotte is not self-sufficient and must import a large portion of its food requirements, mainly from France. The economy and future development of the island are heavily dependent on French financial assistance, an important supplement to GDP. Mayotte's remote location is an obstacle to the development of tourism.
Mexico Mexico has a free market economy with a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Real GDP growth was a weak -0.3% in 2001, 0.9% in 2002, and 1.2% in 2003, with the US slowdown the principal cause. Mexico implemented free trade agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the European Free Trade Area in 2001, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The government is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and provide incentives to invest in the energy sector, but progress is slow.
Micronesia, Federated States of Economic activity consists primarily of subsistence farming and fishing. The islands have few mineral deposits worth exploiting, except for high-grade phosphate. The potential for a tourist industry exists, but the remote location, a lack of adequate facilities, and limited air connections hinder development. In November 2002, the country experienced a further reduction in future revenues from the Compact of Free Association - the agreement with the US in which Micronesia received $1.3 billion in financial and technical assistance over a 15-year period until 2001. The country's medium-term economic outlook appears fragile due not only to the reduction in US assistance but also to the slow growth of the private sector. Geographical isolation and a poorly developed infrastructure remain major impediments to long-term growth.
Midway Islands The economy is based on providing support services for the national wildlife refuge activities located on the islands. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Moldova Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe despite recent progress from its small economic base. It enjoys a favorable climate and good farmland but has no major mineral deposits. As a result, the economy depends heavily on agriculture, featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco. Moldova must import almost all of its energy supplies from Russia. Energy shortages contributed to sharp production declines after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. As part of an ambitious reform effort, Moldova introduced a convertible currency, freed prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and freed interest rates. The government entered into agreements with the World Bank and the IMF to promote growth and reduce poverty. The economy returned to positive growth, of 2.1% in 2000, 6.1% in 2001, 7.2% in 2002, and 6.3% in 2003. Further reforms will come slowly because of strong political forces backing government controls. The economy remains vulnerable to higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the skepticism of foreign investors.
Monaco Monaco, bordering France on the Mediterranean coast, is a popular resort, attracting tourists to its casino and pleasant climate. In 2001, a major construction project extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbor. The principality has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, nonpolluting industries. The state has no income tax and low business taxes and thrives as a tax haven both for individuals who have established residence and for foreign companies that have set up businesses and offices. The state retains monopolies in a number of sectors, including tobacco, the telephone network, and the postal service. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas. Monaco does not publish national income figures; the estimates below are extremely rough.
Mongolia Economic activity traditionally has been based on agriculture and breeding of livestock. Mongolia also has extensive mineral deposits; copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold account for a large part of industrial production. Soviet assistance, at its height one-third of GDP, disappeared almost overnight in 1990-91 at the time of the dismantlement of the USSR. Mongolia was driven into deep recession, prolonged by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's (MPRP) reluctance to undertake serious economic reform. The Democratic Union Coalition (DUC) government embraced free-market economics, eased price controls, liberalized domestic and international trade, and attempted to restructure the banking system and the energy sector. Major domestic privatization programs were undertaken, as well as the fostering of foreign investment through international tender of the oil distribution company, a leading cashmere company, and banks. Reform was held back by the ex-Communist MPRP opposition and by the political instability brought about through four successive governments under the DUC. Economic growth picked up in 1997-99 after stalling in 1996 due to a series of natural disasters and declines in world prices of copper and cashmere. In August and September 1999, the economy suffered from a temporary Russian ban on exports of oil and oil products, and Mongolia remains vulnerable in this sector. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) in 1997. The international donor community pledged over $300 million per year at the Consultative Group Meeting, held in Ulaanbaatar in June 1999. The MPRP government, elected in July 2000, was anxious to improve the investment climate; it also had to deal with a heavy burden of external debt. Falling prices for Mongolia's mainly primary sector exports, widespread opposition to privatization, and adverse effects of weather on agriculture in early 2000 and 2001 restrained real GDP growth. Despite drought problems in 2002, GDP rose 4.0%, followed by a solid 5.0% increase in 2003. The first applications under the land privatization law have been marked by a number of disputes over particular sites. Russia claims Mongolia owes it $11 billion from the Soviet period; any settlement could substantially increase Mongolia's foreign debt burden.
Montserrat Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airports and seaports, causing further economic and social dislocation. Two-thirds of the 12,000 inhabitants fled the island. Some began to return in 1998, but lack of housing limited the number. The agriculture sector continued to be affected by the lack of suitable land for farming and the destruction of crops. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcano and on public sector construction activity. The UK has launched a three-year $122.8 million aid program to help reconstruct the economy. Half of the island is expected to remain uninhabitable for another decade.
Morocco Morocco faces the problems typical of developing countries - restraining government spending, reducing constraints on private activity and foreign trade, and achieving sustainable economic growth. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for current account transactions. Reforms of the financial sector are being contemplated. Droughts depressed activity in the key agricultural sector and contributed to a stagnant economy in 2002. Morocco reported large foreign exchange inflows from the sale of a mobile telephone license, and partial privatization of the state-owned telecommunications company and the state tobacco company. Favorable rainfall in 2003 led to a growth of 6%. Formidable long-term challenges include: preparing the economy for freer trade with the EU and US, improving education, and attracting foreign investment to boost living standards and job prospects for Morocco's youth.
Mozambique At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, have led to dramatic improvements in the country's growth rate. Inflation was reduced to single digits during the late 1990s although it returned to double digits in 2000-03. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities. In spite of these gains, Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance for much of its annual budget, and the majority of the population remains below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's workforce. A substantial trade imbalance persists although the opening of the MOZAL aluminum smelter, the country's largest foreign investment project to date has increased export earnings. Additional investment projects in titanium extraction and processing and garment manufacturing should further close the import/export gap. Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt has been reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives, and is now at a manageable level.
Namibia The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa, the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages are a major problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides the great inequality of income distribution; nearly one-third of Namibians had annual incomes of less than $1,400 in constant 1994 dollars, according to a 1993 study. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. Privatization of several enterprises in coming years may stimulate long-run foreign investment. Mining of zinc, copper, and silver and increased fish production led growth in 2003.
Nauru Revenues of this tiny island have traditionally come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are now depleted. Few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and later major source of support. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income have been invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future. As a result of heavy spending from the trust funds, the government faces virtual bankruptcy. To cut costs the government has called for a freeze on wages, a reduction of over-staffed public service departments, privatization of numerous government agencies, and closure of some overseas consulates. In recent years Nauru has encouraged the registration of offshore banks and corporations. In 2004 the deterioration in housing, hospitals, and other capital plant continued, and the cost to Australia of keeping the government and economy afloat has substantially mounted. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist, with estimates of Nauru's GDP varying widely.
Navassa Island no economic activity
Nepal Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with 42% of its population living below the poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population and accounting for 40% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Security concerns in the wake of the Maoist conflict and the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US have led to a decrease in tourism, a key source of foreign exchange. Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, its civil strife, and its susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community's role of funding more than 60% of Nepal's development budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures will likely continue as a major ingredient of growth.
Netherlands The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 4% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Netherlands, along with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency on 1 January 2002. The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment. Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001-03, as part of the global economic slowdown, but for the four years before that, annual growth averaged nearly 4%, well above the EU average. The government is wrestling with a deteriorating budget position, and is moving toward the EU 3% of GDP budget deficit limit.
Netherlands Antilles Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP has declined or grown slightly in each of the past seven years, the islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, the US and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems hamper reform of the health and pension systems of an aging population.
New Caledonia New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel resources. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, substantial financial support from France - equal to more than one-fourth of GDP - and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. Substantial new investment in the nickel industry, combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, brightens the economic outlook for the next several years.
New Zealand Over the past 20 years the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes (but left behind many at the bottom of the ladder), broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Per capita income has been rising and is now 80% of the level of the four largest EU economies. New Zealand is heavily dependent on trade - particularly in agricultural products - to drive growth, and it has been affected by the global economic slowdown and the slump in commodity prices. Thus far the economy has been resilient, and growth should continue at the same level in 2004. Expenditures on health, education, and pensions will increase proportionately.
Nicaragua Nicaragua, one of the hemisphere's poorest countries, faces low per capita income, massive unemployment, and huge external debt. Distribution of income is one of the most unequal on the globe. While the country has made progress toward macroeconomic stability over the past few years, GDP annual growth of 1.5% - 2.5% has been far too low to meet the country's need. Nicaragua will continue to be dependent on international aid and debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Nicaragua has undertaken significant economic reforms that are expected to help the country qualify for more than $4 billion in debt relief under HIPC in early 2004. Donors have made aid conditional on the openness of government financial operation, poverty alleviation, and human rights. A three-year poverty reduction and growth plan, agreed to with the IMF in December 2002, guides economic policy.
Niger Niger is a poor, landlocked Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, and reexport trade, and increasingly less on uranium, because of declining world demand. The 50% devaluation of the West African franc in January 1994 boosted exports of livestock, cowpeas, onions, and the products of Niger's small cotton industry. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid - which was suspended following the April 1999 coup d'etat - for operating expenses and public investment. In 2000-01, the World Bank approved a structural adjustment loan of $105 million to help support fiscal reforms. However, reforms could prove difficult given the government's bleak financial situation. The IMF approved a $73 million poverty reduction and growth facility for Niger in 2000 and announced $115 million in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Further disbursements of aid occurred in 2002. Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources.
Nigeria Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under the new civilian administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth - Nigeria is Africa's most populous country - and the country, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms. Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. The government has lacked the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry. During 2003, however, the government deregulated fuel prices and announced the privatization of the country's four oil refineries. GDP growth probably will rise marginally in 2004, led by oil and natural gas exports.
Niue The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. Niue has cut government expenditures by reducing the public service by almost half. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. Industry consists primarily of small factories to process passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue. The island in recent years has suffered a serious loss of population because of migration of Niueans to New Zealand. Efforts to increase GDP include the promotion of tourism and a financial services industry, although Premier LAKATANI announced in February 2002 that Niue will shut down the offshore banking industry. Economic aid from New Zealand in 2002 was about $2.6 million.
Norfolk Island Tourism, the primary economic activity, has steadily increased over the years and has brought a level of prosperity unusual among inhabitants of the Pacific islands. The agricultural sector has become self-sufficient in the production of beef, poultry, and eggs.
Northern Mariana Islands The economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. The rate of funding has declined as locally generated government revenues have grown. The key tourist industry employs about 50% of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. Japanese tourists predominate. Annual tourist entries have exceeded one-half million in recent years, but financial difficulties in Japan have caused a temporary slowdown. The agricultural sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Garment production is by far the most important industry with employment of 17,500 mostly Chinese workers and sizable shipments to the US under duty and quota exemptions.
Norway The Norwegian economy is a prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the vital petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises). The country is richly endowed with natural resources - petroleum, hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals - and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices, with oil and gas accounting for one-third of exports. Only Saudi Arabia and Russia export more oil than Norway. Norway opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. The government has moved ahead with privatization. With arguably the highest quality of life worldwide, Norwegians still worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas begin to run out. Accordingly, Norway has been saving its oil-boosted budget surpluses in a Government Petroleum Fund, which is invested abroad and now is valued at more than $43 billion. GDP growth was a lackluster 1% in 2002 and 0.5% in 2003 against the background of a faltering European economy.
Oman Oman is a small, well-off middle Eastern economy with large oil and gas resources, a substantial trade surplus, and low inflation. The government is moving ahead with privatization of its utilities, the development of a body of commercial law to facilitate foreign investment, and increased budgetary outlays. Oman continues to liberalize its markets and joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November 2000. In order to reduce unemployment and limit dependence on foreign countries, the government is encouraging the replacement of expatriate workers with local people, i.e., the process of Omanization. Training in information technology, business management, and English support this objective. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources.
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is a major contributor to the world economy and particularly to those nations its waters directly touch. It provides low-cost sea transportation between East and West, extensive fishing grounds, offshore oil and gas fields, minerals, and sand and gravel for the construction industry. In 1996, over 60% of the world's fish catch came from the Pacific Ocean. Exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves is playing an ever-increasing role in the energy supplies of the US, Australia, NZ, China, and Peru. The high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with the wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has led to fluctuations in new drillings.
Pakistan Pakistan, an impoverished and underdeveloped country, has suffered from decades of internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighboring India. However, IMF-approved government policies, bolstered by generous foreign assistance and renewed access to global markets since late 2001, have generated solid macroeconomic recovery the last two years. The government has made substantial inroads in macroeconomic reform since 2000, although progress on more politically sensitive reforms has slowed. For example, in the third and final year of its $1.3 billion IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, Islamabad has continued to require waivers for energy sector reforms. While long-term prospects remain uncertain, given Pakistan's low level of development, medium-term prospects for job creation and poverty reduction are the best in nearly a decade. Islamabad has raised development spending from about 2% of GDP in the 1990s to 4% in 2003, a necessary step towards reversing the broad underdevelopment of its social sector. GDP growth is heavily dependent on rain-fed crops, and last year's end to a four-year drought should support moderate agricultural growth for the next few years. Foreign exchange reserves continued to reach new levels in 2003, supported by robust export growth and steady worker remittances.
Palau The economy consists primarily of tourism, subsistence agriculture and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. Business and tourist arrivals numbered 50,000 in FY00/01. The population enjoys a per capita income twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the key tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development.
Palmyra Atoll no economic activity
Panama Panama's dollarised economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for three-fourths of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. A slump in Colon Free Zone and agricultural exports, the global slowdown, and the withdrawal of US military forces held back economic growth in 2000-03. The government has been backing public works programs, tax reforms, new regional trade agreements, and development of tourism in order to stimulate growth. Unemployment remains at an unacceptably high level.
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the population. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for 72% of export earnings. The economy has faltered over the past four years. Former Prime Minister Mekere MORAUTA had tried to restore integrity to state institutions, to stabilize the kina, restore stability to the national budget, to privatize public enterprises where appropriate, and to ensure ongoing peace on Bougainville. The government has had considerable success in attracting international support, specifically gaining the backing of the IMF and the World Bank in securing development assistance loans. Challenges face Prime Minister Michael SOMARE, including curbing inflation, gaining further investor confidence, continuing efforts to privatize government assets, maintaining the support of members of Parliament, and balancing relations with Australia, the former colonial ruler.
Paracel Islands China announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism.
Paraguay Paraguay has a market economy marked by a large informal sector. The informal sector features both reexport of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain. A large percentage of the population derives their living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. The formal economy grew by an average of about 3% annually in 1995-97; but GDP declined slightly in 1998, 1999, and 2000, rose slightly in 2001, only to fall again in 2002. On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. Most observers attribute Paraguay's poor economic performance to political uncertainty, corruption, lack of progress on structural reform, substantial internal and external debt, and deficient infrastructure.
Peru Peru's economy reflects its varied geography - an arid coastal region, the Andes further inland, and tropical lands bordering Colombia and Brazil. Abundant mineral resources are found in the mountainous areas, and Peru's coastal waters provide excellent fishing grounds. However, overdependence on minerals and metals subjects the economy to fluctuations in world prices, and a lack of infrastructure deters trade and investment. After several years of inconsistent economic performance, the Peruvian economy was one of the fastest growing in Latin America in 2002 and 2003, growing by 5% and 4%, respectively, with the exchange rate stable and an annual inflation lower than 2%. Foreign direct investment also was strong, thanks to the ongoing Camisea natural gas pipeline project (scheduled to begin operations in 2004) and investments in gold mining. Risk premiums on Peruvian bonds on secondary markets reached historically low levels in late 2003, reflecting investor optimism and the government's fiscal restraint. Despite the strong macroeconomic performance, political intrigue and allegations of corruption continued to swirl in 2003, with the TOLEDO administration growing increasingly unpopular, and local and foreign concern rising that the political turmoil could place the country's hard-won fiscal and financial stability at risk. Moreover, as of late 2003, unemployment had yet to respond to the strong growth in economic activity, owing in part to rigid labor market regulations that act as an impediment to hiring.
Philippines The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided in part by annual remittances of $6-7 billion from overseas workers. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expanded by 2.4% in 1999, and 4.4% in 2000, but slowed to 3.2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, an export slump, and political and security concerns. GDP growth accelerated to 4.4% in 2002 and 4.2% in 2003, reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, gains in industrial output, and improved exports. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. The MACAPAGAL-ARROYO Administration has promised to continue economic reforms to help the Philippines match the pace of development in the newly industrialized countries of East Asia. The strategy includes improving the infrastructure, strengthening tax collection to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatization of the economy, enhancing the viability of the financial system, and increasing trade integration with the region. Prospects for 2004 will depend on the economic performance of two major trading partners, the US and Japan, and on increased confidence on the part of the international investment community.
Pitcairn Islands The inhabitants of this tiny isolated economy exist on fishing, subsistence farming, handicrafts, and postage stamps. The fertile soil of the valleys produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, and beans. Bartering is an important part of the economy. The major sources of revenue are the sale of postage stamps to collectors and the sale of handicrafts to passing ships.
Poland Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of economic liberalization throughout the 1990s and today stands out as a success story among transition economies. Even so, much remains to be done. The privatization of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms has encouraged the development of the private business sector, but legal and bureaucratic obstacles alongside persistent corruption are hampering its further development. Poland's agricultural sector remains handicapped by structural problems, surplus labor, inefficient small farms, and lack of investment. Restructuring and privatization of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railroads, and energy), while recently initiated, have stalled. Reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger than expected fiscal pressures. Further progress in public finance depends mainly on privatization of Poland's remaining state sector, the reduction of state employment, and an overhaul of the tax code to incorporate the growing gray economy and farmers, most of whom pay no tax. The government's determination to enter the EU has shaped most aspects of its economic policy and new legislation; in a nationwide referendum in November 2003, 77% of the voters voted in favor of Poland's EU accession, now scheduled for May 2004. Improving Poland's export competitiveness and containing the internal budget deficit are top priorities. Due to political uncertainty, the zloty has recently depreciated in relation to the euro, while currencies of the other euro-zone aspirants have been appreciating. GDP per capita equals that of the three Baltic states.
Portugal Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986. Over the past decade, successive governments have privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country qualified for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU member economies. Economic growth has been above the EU average for much of the past decade, but fell back in 2001-03. GDP per capita stands at 70% of that of the leading EU economies. A poor educational system, in particular, has been an obstacle to greater productivity and growth. Portugal has been increasingly overshadowed by lower-cost producers in Central Europe and Asia as a target for foreign direct investment. The coalition government faces tough choices in its attempts to boost Portugal's economic competitiveness and to keep the budget deficit within the 3% EU ceiling.
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income, with estimated arrivals of nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Growth fell off in 2001-03, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy.
Qatar Oil and gas account for more than 55% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Oil and gas have given Qatar a per capita GDP about 80% of that of the leading West European industrial countries. Proved oil reserves of 14.5 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 17.9 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total and third largest in the world. Long-term goals feature the development of offshore natural gas reserves to offset the ultimate decline in oil production. Since 2000, Qatar has consistently posted trade surpluses largely because of high oil prices and increased natural gas exports.
Reunion The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but services now dominate. Sugarcane has been the primary crop for more than a century, and in some years it accounts for 85% of exports. The government has been pushing the development of a tourist industry to relieve high unemployment, which amounts to one-third of the labor force. The gap in Reunion between the well-off and the poor is extraordinary and accounts for the persistent social tensions. The white and Indian communities are substantially better off than other segments of the population, often approaching European standards, whereas minority groups suffer the poverty and unemployment typical of the poorer nations of the African continent. The outbreak of severe rioting in February 1991 illustrates the seriousness of socioeconomic tensions. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.
Romania Romania began the transition from Communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to the country's needs. The country emerged in 2000 from a punishing three-year recession thanks to strong demand in EU export markets. Despite the global slowdown in 2001-02, strong domestic activity in construction, agriculture, and consumption have kept growth above 4%. An IMF Standby Agreement, signed in 2001, has been accompanied by slow but palpable gains in privatization, deficit reduction, and the curbing of inflation. The IMF Board approved Romania's completion of the standby agreement in October 2003, the first time Romania has successfully concluded an IMF agreement since the 1989 revolution. Nonetheless, recent macroeconomic gains have done little to address Romania's widespread poverty, while corruption and red tape hinder foreign investment.
Russia Russia ended 2003 with its fifth straight year of growth, averaging 6.5% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble are important drivers of this economic rebound, since 2000 investment and consumer-driven demand have played a noticeably increasing role. Real fixed capital investments have averaged gains greater than 10% over the last four years and real personal incomes have averaged increases over 12%. Russia has also improved its international financial position since the 1998 financial crisis, with its foreign debt declining from 90% of GDP to around 28%. Strong oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from only $12 billion to some $80 billion. These achievements, along with a renewed government effort to advance structural reforms, have raised business and investor confidence in Russia's economic prospects. Nevertheless, serious problems persist. Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices. Russia's manufacturing base is dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve broad-based economic growth. Other problems include a weak banking system, a poor business climate that discourages both domestic and foreign investors, corruption, local and regional government intervention in the courts, and widespread lack of trust in institutions. In addition, a string of investigations launched against a major Russian oil company, culminating with the arrest of its CEO in the fall of 2003, have raised concerns by some observers that President PUTIN is granting more influence to forces within his government that desire to reassert state control over the economy.
Rwanda Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa; landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels, although poverty levels are higher now. GDP has rebounded, and inflation has been curbed. Export earnings, however, have been hindered by low beverage prices, depriving the country of much needed hard currency. Attempts to diversify into non-traditional agriculture exports such as flowers and vegetables have been stymied by a lack of adequate transportation infrastructure. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food to be imported. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and was approved for IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in late 2000. But Kigali's high defense expenditures cause tension between the government and international donors and lending agencies.
Saint Helena The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $5 million in 1997 or almost one-half of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, the raising of livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Sugar was the traditional mainstay of the Saint Kitts economy until the 1970s. Although the crop still dominates the agricultural sector, activities such as tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore banking have assumed larger roles in the economy. As tourism revenues are now the chief source of the islands' foreign exchange, a decline in stopover tourist arrivals following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks has eroded government finances. The opening of a 1,000+ bed Marriott hotel in February 2003 was expected to bring in much-needed revenue.
Saint Lucia Changes in the EU import preference regime and the increased competition from Latin American bananas have made economic diversification increasingly important in Saint Lucia. The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalize the banana industry. Economic fundamentals remain solid.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon The inhabitants have traditionally earned their livelihood by fishing and by servicing fishing fleets operating off the coast of Newfoundland. The economy has been declining, however, because of disputes with Canada over fishing quotas and a steady decline in the number of ships stopping at Saint Pierre. In 1992, an arbitration panel awarded the islands an exclusive economic zone of 12,348 sq km to settle a longstanding territorial dispute with Canada, although it represents only 25% of what France had sought. The islands are heavily subsidized by France to the great betterment of living standards. The government hopes an expansion of tourism will boost economic prospects. Recent test drilling for oil may pave the way for development of the energy sector.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Economic growth in this lower-middle-income country hinges upon seasonal variations in the agricultural and tourism sectors. Tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops in 1994, 1995, and 2002, and tourism in the Eastern Caribbean has suffered low arrivals following 11 September 2001. Saint Vincent is home to a small offshore banking sector and has moved to adopt international regulatory standards. Saint Vincent is also a large producer of marijuana and is being used as a transshipment point for illegal narcotics from South America.
Samoa The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, and agriculture and fishing. The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. Agriculture employs two-thirds of the labor force, and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring coconut cream, coconut oil, and copra. The manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. The decline of fish stocks in the area is a continuing problem. Tourism is an expanding sector, accounting for 25% of GDP; about 88,000 tourists visited the islands in 2001. The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline, meantime protecting the environment. Observers point to the flexibility of the labor market as a basic strength for future economic advances. Foreign reserves are in a relatively healthy state, the external debt is stable, and inflation is low.
San Marino The tourist sector contributes over 50% of GDP. In 2000 more than 3 million tourists visited San Marino. The key industries are banking, wearing apparel, electronics, and ceramics. Main agricultural products are wine and cheeses. The per capita level of output and standard of living are comparable to those of the most prosperous regions of Italy, which supplies much of its food.
Sao Tome and Principe This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence 29 years ago. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement, but strengthening prices helped boost export earnings in 2003. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial 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. Sao Tome benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. Sao Tome's success in implementing structural reforms has been rewarded by international donors, who pledged increased assistance in 2001. 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. Sao Tome is optimistic about the development of petroleum resources in its territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea; production could begin as early as 2004.
Saudi Arabia This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (25% of the proved reserves), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly five and a half million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is encouraging private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Priorities for government spending in the short term include additional funds for education and for the water and sewage systems. Economic reforms proceed cautiously because of deep-rooted political and social conservatism.
Senegal In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the French franc. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging 5% annually during 1995-2003. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the low single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff. Senegal also realized full Internet connectivity in 1996, creating a miniboom in information technology-based services. Private activity now accounts for 82% of GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces deep-seated urban problems of chronic unemployment, trade union militancy, juvenile delinquency, and drug addiction.
Serbia and Montenegro MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of economic sanctions, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 have left the economy only half the size it was in 1990. After the ousting of former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC in October 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on an aggressive market reform program. After renewing its membership in the IMF in December 2000, Yugoslavia continued to reintegrate into the international community by rejoining the World Bank (IBRD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). A World Bank-European Commission sponsored Donors' Conference held in June 2001 raised $1.3 billion for economic restructuring. An agreement rescheduling the country's $4.5 billion Paris Club government debts was concluded in November 2001; it wrote off 66% of the debt. The smaller republic of Montenegro severed its economy from federal control and from Serbia during the MILOSEVIC era and continues to maintain its own central bank, uses the euro instead of the Yugoslav dinar as official currency, collects customs tariffs, and manages its own budget. Kosovo, while technically still part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro) according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, is largely autonomous under United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and is greatly dependent on the international community and the diaspora for financial and technical assistance. The euro and the Yugoslav dinar are official currencies, and UNMIK collects taxes and manages the budget. The complexity of Serbia and Montenegro political relationships, slow progress in privatization, legal uncertainty over property rights, and scarcity of foreign-investment are holding back Serbia and Montenegro's economy. Arrangements with the IMF, especially requirements for fiscal discipline, are an important element in policy formation. Severe unemployment remains a key political economic problem.
Seychelles Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the old near-subsistence level. Growth has been led by the tourist sector, which employs about 30% of the labor force and provides more than 70% of hard currency earnings, and by tuna fishing. In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade hotels and other services. At the same time, the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, and small-scale manufacturing. A sharp drop illustrated the vulnerability of the tourist sector in 1991-92 due largely to the Gulf war, and once again following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. Other issues facing the government are the curbing of the budget deficit, including the containment of social welfare costs, and further privatization of public enterprises. Growth slowed in 1998-2002, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors. Also, tight controls on exchange rates and the scarcity of foreign exchange have impaired short-term economic prospects. The black market value of the Seychelles rupee is half the official exchange rate; without a devaluation of the currency the tourist sector should remain sluggish as vacationers seek cheaper destinations such as Comoros, Mauritius, and Madagascar.
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone is an extremely poor African nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. It does have substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources. However, the economic and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development, following a 11-year civil war. About two-thirds of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Plans continue to reopen bauxite and rutile mines shut down during the conflict. The major source of hard currency consists of the mining of diamonds. The fate of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad, which is essential to offset the severe trade imbalance and to supplement government revenues.
Singapore Singapore, a highly developed and successful free market economy, enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a high per capita GDP. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly in electronics and manufacturing. It was hard hit in 2001-03 by the global recession and the slump in the technology sector. The government hopes to establish a new growth path that will be less vulnerable to the external business cycle but is unlikely to abandon efforts to establish Singapore as Southeast Asia's financial and high-tech hub. Fiscal stimulus, low interest rates, and global economic recovery should lead to much improved growth in 2004.
Slovakia Slovakia has mastered much of the difficult transition from a centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. The DZURINDA government made excellent progress during 2001-03 in macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in foreign hands, and foreign investment has picked up. Slovakia's economy exceeded expectations in 2001-03, despite the general European slowdown. Unemployment, at an unacceptable 15% in 2003, remains the economy's Achilles heel. The government faces other strong challenges in 2004, especially cutting the budget deficit, containing inflation, and strengthening the health care system.
Slovenia Slovenia, with its historical ties to Western Europe, enjoys a GDP per capita substantially higher than that of the other transitioning economies of Central Europe. In March 2004, Slovenia became the first transition country to graduate from borrower status to donor partner at the World Bank. Privatization of the economy proceeded at an accelerated pace in 2002-03, and the budget deficit dropped from 3.0% of GDP in 2002 to 1.6% in 2003. Despite the economic slowdown in Europe in 2001-03, Slovenia maintained 3% growth. Structural reforms to improve the business environment allow for greater foreign participation in Slovenia's economy and help to lower unemployment. Further measures to curb inflation are also needed. Corruption and the high degree of coordination between government, business, and central bank policy are issues of concern in the run-up to Slovenia's scheduled 1 May 2004 accession to the European Union.
Solomon Islands The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of their livelihood. Most manufactured goods and petroleum products must be imported. The islands are rich in undeveloped mineral resources such as lead, zinc, nickel, and gold. However, severe ethnic violence, the closing of key business enterprises, and an empty government treasury have led to serious economic disarray, indeed near collapse. Tanker deliveries of crucial fuel supplies (including those for electrical generation) have become sporadic due to the government's inability to pay and attacks against ships. Telecommunications are threatened by the nonpayment of bills and by the lack of technical and maintenance staff many of whom have left the country. The disintegration of law and order left the economy in tatters by mid-2003, and on 24 July 2003 more than 2000 Australian soldiers entered the Solomon Islands to restore order and to facilitate the restoration of basic services.
Somalia Somalia's economic fortunes are being driven by its deep political divisions. The northern area has declared its independence as "Somaliland"; the central area, Puntland, is a self-declared autonomous state; and the remaining southern portion is riddled with the struggles of rival factions. Economic life continues, in part because much activity is local and relatively easily protected. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings, but Saudi Arabia's recent ban on Somali livestock, because of Rift Valley Fever concerns, has severely hampered the sector. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and sold as scrap metal. Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia's service sector has managed to survive and grow. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money exchange services have sprouted throughout the country, handling between $200 million and $500 million in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security. The ongoing civil disturbances and clan rivalries, however, have interfered with any broad-based economic development and international aid arrangements. In 2002 Somalia's overdue financial obligations to the IMF continued to grow. Statistics on Somalia's GDP, growth, per capita income, and inflation should be viewed skeptically.
South Africa South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world; and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to lower South Africa's high unemployment rate; and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. High crime and HIV/AIDS infection rates also deter investment. South African economic policy is fiscally conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalizing trade as means to increase job growth and household income.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. There is a potential source of income from harvesting finfish and krill. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK, sale of fishing licenses, and harbor and landing fees from tourist vessels. Tourism from specialized cruise ships is increasing rapidly.
Southern Ocean Fisheries in 2000-01 (1 July to 30 June) landed 112,934 metric tons, of which 87% was krill and 11% Patagonian toothfish. International agreements were adopted in late 1999 to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which in the 2000-01 season landed, by one estimate, 8,376 metric tons of Patagonian and antarctic toothfish. In the 2000-01 antarctic summer 12,248 tourists, most of them seaborne, visited the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, compared to 14,762 the previous year.
Spain Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is 80% that of the four leading West European economies. The center-right government of former President AZNAR successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency (the euro) on 1 January 1999. The AZNAR administration continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment fell steadily under the AZNAR administration but remains high at 11.7%. Growth of 2.4% in 2003 was satisfactory given the background of a faltering European economy. Incoming President RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, whose party won the election three days after the Madrid train bombings in March, plans to reduce government intervention in business, combat tax fraud, and support innovation, research and development, but also intends to reintroduce labor market regulations that had been scraped by the AZNAR government. Adjusting to the monetary and other economic policies of an integrated Europe - and reducing unemployment - will pose challenges to Spain over the next few years.
Spratly Islands Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored; there are no reliable estimates of potential reserves; commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.
Sri Lanka In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for market-oriented policies and export-oriented trade. Sri Lanka's most dynamic sectors now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. In 2003, plantation crops made up only 15% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% in the early 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000 with average growth of 5.3%, but 2001 saw the first contraction in the country's history, -1.4%, due to a combination of power shortages, severe budgetary problems, the global slowdown, and continuing civil strife. Growth recovered to 4.0% in 2002 and 5.2% in 2003. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% in the Middle East. They send home about $1 billion a year. The struggle by the Tamil Tigers of the north and east for a largely independent homeland continues to cast a shadow over the economy.
Sudan Sudan has turned around a struggling economy with sound economic policies and infrastructure investments, yet it still faces formidable economic problems, starting from its low level of per capita output and extending to its devastating civil stife. From 1997 to date, Sudan has been implementing IMF macroeconomic reforms. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus, which, along with monetary policy, has stabilized the exchange rate. Increased oil production, revived light industry, and expanded export processing zones helped sustain GDP growth at 6.1% in 2003 and 7% in 2004. Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the work force and contributing 39% of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability - including the long-standing civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian/pagan south, the ethnic purges in Darfur, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices - ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years.
Suriname The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend on renewed commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The government of Ronald VENETIAAN has begun an austerity program, raised taxes, and attempted to control spending. However, in 2002, President VENETIAAN agreed to a large pay raise for civil servants, which threatens his earlier gains in stabilizing the economy. The Dutch Government has agreed to restart the aid flow, which will allow Suriname to access international development financing. The short-term economic outlook depends on the government's ability to control inflation and on the development of projects in the bauxite and gold mining sectors.
Svalbard Coal mining is the major economic activity on Svalbard. The treaty of 9 February 1920 gives the 41 signatories equal rights to exploit mineral deposits, subject to Norwegian regulation. Although US, UK, Dutch, and Swedish coal companies have mined in the past, the only companies still mining are Norwegian and Russian. The settlements on Svalbard are essentially company towns. The Norwegian state-owned coal company employs nearly 60% of the Norwegian population on the island, runs many of the local services, and provides most of the local infrastructure. There is also some hunting of seal, reindeer, and fox.
Swaziland In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies more than 80% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives about nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends nearly three-quarters of its exports. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2002 because of drought, and more than one-third of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS.
Sweden Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Privately owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Agriculture accounts for only 2% of GDP and 2% of the jobs. The government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted in a substantial budgetary surplus in 2001, which was cut by more than half in 2002, due to the global economic slowdown, declining revenue, and increased spending. The Swedish central bank (the Riksbank) is focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. Growth remained sluggish in 2003. On September 14, 2003, Swedish voters turned down entry into the euro system, concerned about the impact on democracy and sovereignty.
Switzerland Switzerland is a prosperous and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value. Reflecting the anemic economic conditions of Europe, GDP growth dropped in 2001 to about 0.8%, to 0.2% in 2002, and to -0.3% in 2003.
Syria Syria's predominantly statist economy lately has been growing more slowly than its 2.4% annual population growth rate. Recent legislation allows private banks to operate in Syria, although a private banking sector will take years and further government cooperation to develop. Factors, including the war between the US-led coalition and Iraq, probably drove real annual GDP growth levels back below 1% in 2003 following growth of 3.5% in 2001 and 4.5% in 2002. A long-run economic constraint is the pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution.
Taiwan Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes 2% to GDP, down from 32% in 1952. While Taiwan is a major investor throughout Southeast Asia, China has become the largest destination for investment and has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's largest export market. Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered little compared with many of its neighbors from the Asian financial crisis in 1998. The global economic downturn, combined with problems in policy coordination by the administration and bad debts in the banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001, the first year of negative growth ever recorded. Unemployment also reached record levels. Output recovered moderately in 2002 in the face of continued global slowdown, fragile consumer confidence, and bad bank loans. Growing economic ties with China are a dominant long-term factor. Exports to China - mainly parts and equipment for the assembly of goods for export to developed countries - drove Taiwan's economic recovery in 2002. Although the SARS epidemic, Typhoon Maemi, corporate scandals, and a drop in consumer spending caused GDP growth to contract to 3.2% in 2003, increasingly strong export performance kept Taiwan's economy on track, and the government expects Taiwan's economy to grow 4.1% in 2004.
Tajikistan Tajikistan has the lowest per capita GDP among the 15 former Soviet republics. Only 5% to 6% of the land area is arable. Cotton is the most important crop. Mineral resources, varied but limited in amount, include silver, gold, uranium, and tungsten. Industry consists only of a large aluminum plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories mostly in light industry and food processing. The civil war (1992-97) severely damaged the already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. Even though 60% of its people continue to live in abject poverty, Tajikistan has experienced steady economic growth since 1997. Continued privatization of medium and large state-owned enterprises will further increase productivity. Tajikistan's economic situation, however, remains fragile due to uneven implementation of structural reforms, weak governance, widespread unemployment, and the external debt burden. A debt restructuring agreement was reached with Russia in December 2002, including an interest rate of 4%, a 3-year grace period, and a US $49.8 million credit to the Central Bank of Tajikistan.
Tanzania Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for about half of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry traditionally featured the processing of agricultural products and light consumer goods. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's out-of-date economic infrastructure and to alleviate poverty. Growth in 1991-2002 featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals, led by gold. Oil and gas exploration and development played an important role in this growth. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private sector growth and investment. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported real GDP growth of more than 5.2% in 2004.
Thailand Thailand has a free-enterprise economy and welcomes foreign investment. Exports feature textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances. Thailand has recovered from the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis and was one of East Asia's best performers in 2002. Increased consumption and investment spending and strong export growth pushed GDP growth up to 6.3% in 2003 despite a sluggish global economy. The highly popular government has pushed an expansionist policy, including major support of village economic development.
Togo This small sub-Saharan economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for 65% of the labor force. Some basic foodstuffs must still be imported. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton generate about 40% of export earnings, with cotton being the most important cash crop. Togo is the world's fourth-largest producer of phosphate, but production fell an estimated 22% in 2002 due to power shortages and the cost of developing new deposits. The government's decade-long effort, supported by the World Bank and the IMF, to implement economic reform measures, encourage foreign investment, and bring revenues in line with expenditures has moved slowly. Progress depends on following through on privatization, increased openness in government financial operations, progress toward legislative elections, and continued support from foreign donors.
Tokelau Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand - about $4 million annually - to maintain public services, with annual aid being substantially greater than GDP. The principal sources of revenue come from sales of copra, postage stamps, souvenir coins, and handicrafts. Money is also remitted to families from relatives in New Zealand.
Tonga Tonga, a small, open, South Pacific island economy, has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops, and agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well-developed social services. High unemployment among the young and the continuing upturn in inflation are major issues facing the government.
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago, the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses. Tourism is a growing sector, although not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. The economy benefits from low inflation and a growing trade surplus. Prospects for growth in 2004 are good as prices for oil, petrochemicals, and liquified natural gas are expected to remain high, and foreign direct investment continues to grow to support expanded capacity in the energy sector. The government is coping with a rise in violent crime.
Tromelin Island no economic activity
Tunisia Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, energy, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Real growth, averaging 5% for the latter half of the last decade, slowed to a 15-year low of 1.9% in 2002 because of agricultural drought, slow investment, and lackluster tourism. Better rains in 2003, however, pushed GDP growth up to an estimated 6 percent, and tourism also recovered after the end of combat operations in Iraq. GDP growth remained at 6% in 2004. Tunisia has agreed to gradually remove barriers to trade with the European Union over the next decade. Broader privatization, further liberalization of the investment code to increase foreign investment, improvements in government efficiency, and reduction of the trade deficit are among the challenges for the future.
Turkey Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2001 still accounted for 40% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The most important industry - and largest exporter - is textiles and clothing, which is almost entirely in private hands. In recent years the economic situation has been marked by erratic economic growth and serious imbalances. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001. Meanwhile, the public sector fiscal deficit has regularly exceeded 10% of GDP - due in large part to the huge burden of interest payments, which accounted for more than 40% of central government spending in 2003. Inflation, in recent years in the high double-digit range, fell to 11.3% in 2004. Perhaps because of these problems, foreign direct investment in Turkey remains low - less than $1 billion annually. Results in 2002-04 improved, because of strong financial support from the IMF and tighter fiscal policy. A major political and economic issue over the next decade is whether or not Turkey will become a member of the EU.
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan is largely desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and large gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton, making it at one time the world's tenth-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to a nearly 46% decline in cotton exports. With an authoritarian ex-Communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy. Privatization goals remain limited. In 1998-2003, Turkmenistan suffered from the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external debt. At the same time, however, total exports rose by 38% in 2003, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, the burden of foreign debt, and the unwillingness of the government to adopt market-oriented reforms. However, Turkmenistan's cooperation with the international community in transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan may foreshadow a change in the atmosphere for foreign investment, aid, and technological support. Turkmenistan's economic statistics are state secrets, and GDP and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the 20% rate of GDP growth is a guess.
Turks and Caicos Islands The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than half of the 93,000 visitors in the late 1990s. Major sources of government revenue include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts. Tourism fell by 6% in 2002.
Tuvalu Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Fewer than 1,000 tourists, on average, visit Tuvalu annually. Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins and worker remittances. About 1,000 Tuvaluans work in Nauru in the phosphate mining industry. Nauru has begun repatriating Tuvaluans, however, as phosphate resources decline. Substantial income is received annually from an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, NZ, and the UK and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Thanks to wise investments and conservative withdrawals, this Fund has grown from an initial $17 million to over $35 million in 1999. The US government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu, because of payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries. In an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts of up to 7%. In 1998, Tuvalu began deriving revenue from use of its area code for "900" lines and in 2000, from the lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name. Royalties from these new technology sources could increase substantially over the next decade. With merchandise exports only a fraction of merchandise imports, continued reliance must be placed on fishing and telecommunications license fees, remittances from overseas workers, official transfers, and investment income from overseas assets.
Uganda Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes are especially aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings. During 1990-2001, the economy turned in a solid performance based on continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, reduced inflation, gradually improved domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs. Corruption within the government and slippage in the government's determination to press reforms raise doubts about the continuation of strong growth. In 2000, Uganda qualified for enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief worth $1.3 billion and Paris Club debt relief worth $145 million. These amounts combined with the original HIPC debt relief added up to about $2 billion. Growth for 2001-02 was solid despite continued decline in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export. Solid growth in 2003 reflected an upturn in Uganda's export markets.
Ukraine After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Ukraine depends on imports of energy, especially natural gas, to meet some 85% of its annual energy requirements. Shortly after independence in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Loose monetary policies pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels in late 1993. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Now in his second term, President KUCHMA has pledged to reduce the number of government agencies, streamline the regulatory process, create a legal environment to encourage entrepreneurs, and enact a comprehensive tax overhaul. Reforms in the more politically sensitive areas of structural reform and land privatization are still lagging. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF - have encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms. GDP in 2000 showed strong export-based growth of 6% - the first growth since independence - and industrial production grew 12.9%. The economy continued to expand in 2001 as real GDP rose 9% and industrial output grew by over 14%. Growth of 4.1% in 2002 was more moderate, in part a reflection of faltering growth in the developed world. In general, growth has been undergirded by strong domestic demand, low inflation, and solid consumer and investor confidence. Growth was a sturdy 8.2% in 2003 despite a loss of momentum in needed economic reforms.
United Arab Emirates The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Its wealth is based on oil and gas output (about 33% of GDP), and the fortunes of the economy fluctuate with the prices of those commodities. Since 1973, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. At present levels of production, oil and gas reserves should last for more than 100 years. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater private sector involvement.
United Kingdom The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of the quartet of trillion dollar economies of Western Europe. Over the past two decades the government has greatly reduced public ownership and contained the growth of social welfare programs. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves; primary energy production accounts for 10% of GDP, one of the highest shares of any industrial nation. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account by far for the largest proportion of GDP while industry continues to decline in importance. GDP growth slipped in 2001-03 as the global downturn, the high value of the pound, and the bursting of the "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. Still, the economy is one of the strongest in Europe; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low. The relatively good economic performance has complicated the BLAIR government's efforts to make a case for Britain to join the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Critics point out, however, that the economy is doing well outside of EMU, and they point to public opinion polls that continue to show a majority of Britons opposed to the euro. Meantime, the government has been speeding up the improvement of education, transport, and health services, at a cost in higher taxes. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, together with the subsequent problems of restoring the economy and the polity, involve a heavy commitment of British military forces.
United States The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $37,800. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy considerably greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to entry in their rivals' home markets than the barriers to entry of foreign firms in US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The years 1994-2000 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. The year 2001 saw the end of boom psychology and performance, with output increasing only 0.3% and unemployment and business failures rising substantially. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. Moderate recovery took place in 2002 with the GDP growth rate rising to 2.4%. A major short-term problem in first half 2002 was a sharp decline in the stock market, fueled in part by the exposure of dubious accounting practices in some major corporations. The war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to the military. In 2003, growth in output and productivity and the recovery of the stock market to above 10,000 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were promising signs. Unemployment stayed at the 6% level, however, and began to decline only at the end of the year. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.
Uruguay Uruguay's well-to-do economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-98, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. For instance, in 2001-02 massive withdrawals by Argentina of dollars deposited in Uruguayan banks led to a plunge in the Uruguyan peso and a massive rise in unemployment. Total GDP in these four years dropped by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year due to the serious banking crisis. Unemployment rose to nearly 20% in 2002, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Cooperation with the IMF and the US has limited the damage. The debt swap with private creditors carried out in 2003, which extended the maturity dates on nearly half of Uruguay's $11.3 billion in public debt, substantially alleviated the country's amortization burden in the coming years and restored public confidence. The economy is expected to resume growth in 2004 (perhaps 4% or more) as a result of high commodity prices for Uruguayan exports, the weakness of the dollar against the euro, growth in the region, low international interest rates, and greater export competitiveness. On the negative side, in December 2003 the electorate voted to repeal the law permitting a cautious liberalization of the energy industry.
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's second-largest cotton exporter, a large producer of gold and oil, and a regionally significant producer of chemicals and machinery. Following independence in December 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. Uzbekistan responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by emphasizing import substitute industrialization and by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. The government, while aware of the need to improve the investment climate, sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, the government's control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence.
Vanuatu This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with about 50,000 visitors in 1997, are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Economic development is hindered by dependence on relatively few commodity exports, vulnerability to natural disasters, and long distances from main markets and between constituent islands. A severe earthquake in November 1999 followed by a tsunami, caused extensive damage to the northern island of Pentecote and left thousands homeless. Another powerful earthquake in January 2002 caused extensive damage in the capital, Port-Vila, and surrounding areas, and also was followed by a tsunami. GDP growth rose less than 3% on average in the 1990s. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center. In mid-2002 the government stepped up efforts to boost tourism. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth. Australia and New Zealand are the main suppliers of tourists and foreign aid. Growth expanded moderately in 2003.
Venezuela Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Despite higher oil prices at the end of 2002 and into 2003, domestic political instability, culminating in a disastrous two-month national oil strike from December 2002 to February 2003, temporarily halted economic activity. The economy remained in depression in 2003, declining by 9.2% after an 8.9% fall in 2002. In late 2003, President CHAVEZ committed himself to $1 billion in new social programs, money the government does not have.
Vietnam Vietnam is a poor, densely-populated country that has had to recover from the ravages of war, the loss of financial support from the old Soviet Bloc, and the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy. Substantial progress was achieved from 1986 to 1996 in moving forward from an extremely low starting point - growth averaged around 9% per year from 1993 to 1997. The 1997 Asian financial crisis highlighted the problems in the Vietnamese economy, but rather than prompting reform, reaffirmed the government's belief that shifting to a market-oriented economy would lead to disaster. GDP growth of 8.5% in 1997 fell to 6% in 1998 and 5% in 1999. Growth then rose to 6% to 7% in 2000-02 even against the background of global recession. These numbers mask some major difficulties in economic performance. Many domestic industries, including coal, cement, steel, and paper, have reported large stockpiles of inventory and tough competition from more efficient foreign producers. Since the Party elected new leadership in 2001, Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic liberalization and have moved to implement the structural reforms needed to modernize the economy and to produce more competitive, export-driven industries. The US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement entered into force near the end of 2001 and is expected to significantly increase Vietnam's exports to the US. The US is assisting Vietnam with implementing the legal and structural reforms called for in the agreement.
Virgin Islands Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for 80% of GDP and employment. The islands normally host 2 million visitors a year. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. The agricultural sector is small, with most food being imported. International business and financial services are a small but growing component of the economy. One of the world's largest petroleum refineries is at Saint Croix. The islands are subject to substantial damage from storms. The government is working to improve fiscal discipline, to support construction projects in the private sector, to expand tourist facilities, to reduce crime, and to protect the environment.
Wake Island Economic activity is limited to providing services to contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Wallis and Futuna The economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture, with about 80% labor force earnings from agriculture (coconuts and vegetables), livestock (mostly pigs), and fishing. About 4% of the population is employed in government. Revenues come from French Government subsidies, licensing of fishing rights to Japan and South Korea, import taxes, and remittances from expatriate workers in New Caledonia.
West Bank Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined by about one-third between 1992 and 1996 due to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and rapid population growth. The downturn in economic activity was largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the WBGS. The most serious social effect of this downturn was rising unemployment, which in the WBGS during the 1980s was generally under 5%; by 1995 it had risen to over 20%. Israel's use of comprehensive closures during the next three years decreased and, in 1998, Israel implemented new policies to reduce the impact of closures and other security procedures on the movement of Palestinian goods and labor. These changes fueled an almost three-year-long economic recovery in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; real GDP grew by 5% in 1998 and 6% in 1999. Recovery was upended in the last quarter of 2000 with the outbreak of violence, which triggered tight Israeli closures of Palestinian self-rule areas and severely disrupted trade and labor movements. In 2001, and even more severely in 2002, Israeli military measures in Palestinian Authority areas resulted in the destruction of much capital plant and administrative structure, widespread business closures, and a sharp drop in GDP. Including Gaza Strip, the UN estimates that more than 100,000 Palestinians out of the 125,000 who used to work in Israel, in Israeli settlements, or in joint industrial zones have lost their jobs. In addition, about 80,000 Palestinian workers inside the Territories are losing their jobs. International aid of $2 billion in 2001-02 to the West Bank and Gaza Strip prevented the complete collapse of the economy. In 2004, on-going border issues and the death of Yasser ARAFAT continued to complicate the economic situation.
Western Sahara Western Sahara depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the population. The territory lacks sufficient rainfall for sustainable agricultural production, and most of the food for the urban population must be imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan Government. Moroccan energy interests in 2001 signed contracts to explore for oil off the coast of Western Sahara, which has angered the Polisario. Incomes and standards of living in Western Sahara are substantially below the Moroccan level.
World Global output rose by 3.7% in 2003, led by China (9.1%), India (7.6%), and Russia (7.3%). The other 14 successor nations of the USSR and the other old Warsaw Pact nations again experienced widely divergent growth rates; the three Baltic nations continued as strong performers, in the 5%-7% range of growth. Growth results posted by the major industrial countries varied from a loss by Germany (-0.1%) to a strong gain by the United States (3.1%). The developing nations also varied in their growth results, with many countries facing population increases that erode gains in output. Externally, the nation-state, as a bedrock economic-political institution, is steadily losing control over international flows of people, goods, funds, and technology. Internally, the central government often finds its control over resources slipping as separatist regional movements - typically based on ethnicity - gain momentum, e.g., in many of the successor states of the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia, in India, in Iraq, in Indonesia, and in Canada. Externally, the central government is losing decision-making powers to international bodies. In Western Europe, governments face the difficult political problem of channeling resources away from welfare programs in order to increase investment and strengthen incentives to seek employment. The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of pollution, desertification, underemployment, epidemics, and famine. Because of their own internal problems and priorities, the industrialized countries devote insufficient resources to deal effectively with the poorer areas of the world, which, at least from the economic point of view, are becoming further marginalized. The introduction of the euro as the common currency of much of Western Europe in January 1999, while paving the way for an integrated economic powerhouse, poses economic risks because of varying levels of income and cultural and political differences among the participating nations. The terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 accentuate a further growing risk to global prosperity, illustrated, for example, by the reallocation of resources away from investment to anti-terrorist programs. The opening of war in March 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq added new uncertainties to global economic prospects. After the coalition victory, the complex political difficulties and the high economic cost of establishing domestic order in Iraq became major global problems that continue into 2004.
Yemen Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported strong growth in the mid-1990s with the onset of oil production. It has been harmed by periodic declines in oil prices, but now benefits from current high prices. Yemen has embarked on an IMF-supported structural adjustment program designed to modernize and streamline the economy, which has led to substantial foreign debt relief and restructuring. International donors, meeting in Paris in October 2002, agreed on a further $2.3 billion economic support package. Yemen has worked to maintain tight control over spending and to implement additional components of the IMF program. A markedly high population growth rate and internal political dissension complicate the government's task. Plans include a diversification of the economy, encouragement of tourism, and more efficient use of scarce water resources.
Zambia Despite progress in privatization and budgetary reform, Zambia's economic growth remains below the 5% to 7% necessary to reduce poverty significantly. Privatization of government-owned copper mines relieved the government from covering mammoth losses generated by the industry and greatly improved the chances for copper mining to return to profitability and spur economic growth. Copper output increased in 2003 and is expected to increase again in 2004, due to higher copper prices. The maize harvest doubled in 2003, helping boost GDP by 4.0%. Cooperation continues with international bodies on programs to reduce poverty, including a new lending arrangement with the IMF expected in the second quarter, 2004. A tighter monetary policy will help cut inflation, but Zambia still has a serious problem with fiscal discipline.
Zimbabwe The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles with an unsustainable fiscal deficit, an overvalued exchange rate, soaring inflation, and bare shelves. Its 1998-2002 involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. Badly needed support from the IMF has been suspended because of the country's failure to meet budgetary goals. Inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to 383% in 2003, and is expected to reach 700% in 2004. The government's land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, has badly damaged the commercial farming sector, the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange and the provider of 400,000 jobs.

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004

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