Economy - overview
This page shows the value of the Economy - overview information field
for all countries in the Country Guide.
Notes on this field are available at the
Information Field Notes page.
Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country, highly dependent on farming and livestock raising (sheep and goats). Economic considerations have played second fiddle to political and military upheavals during two decades of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation (which ended 15 February 1989). During that conflict one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering a combined peak of more than 6 million refugees. In early 1999, 1.2 million Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan and about 1.4 million in Iran. Gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 20 years because of the loss of labor and capital and the disruption of trade and transport. The majority of the population continues to suffer from insufficient food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Inflation remains a serious problem throughout the country. International aid can deal with only a fraction of the humanitarian problem, let alone promote economic development. The economic situation did not improve in 1998-99, as internal civil strife continued, hampering both domestic economic policies and international aid efforts. Numerical data are likely to be either unavailable or unreliable. Afghanistan was by far the largest producer of opium poppies in 1999, and narcotics trafficking is a major source of revenue.
An extremely poor country by European standards, Albania is making the difficult transition to a more open-market economy. The economy rebounded in 1993-95 after a severe depression accompanying the collapse of the previous centrally planned system in 1990 and 1991. However, a weakening of government resolve to maintain stabilization policies in the election year of 1996 contributed to renewal of inflationary pressures, spurred by the budget deficit which exceeded 12%. The collapse of financial pyramid schemes in early 1997 - which had attracted deposits from a substantial portion of Albania's population - triggered severe social unrest which led to more than 1,500 deaths, widespread destruction of property, and an 8% drop in GDP. The new government, installed in July 1997, has taken strong measures to restore public order and to revive economic activity and trade. The economy continues to be bolstered by remittances of some 20% of the labor force that works abroad, mostly in Greece and Italy. These remittances supplement GDP and help offset the large foreign trade deficit. Most agricultural land was privatized in 1992, substantially improving peasant incomes. In 1998, Albania recovered the 8% drop in GDP of 1997 and pushed ahead by 7% in 1999. International aid has helped defray the high costs of receiving and returning refugees from the Kosovo conflict.
The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 52% of budget revenues, 25% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the fifth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the second largest gas exporter; it ranks fourteenth for oil reserves. Algiers' efforts to reform one of the most centrally planned economies in the Arab world stalled in 1992 as the country became embroiled in political turmoil. Burdened with a heavy foreign debt, Algiers concluded a one-year standby arrangement with the IMF in April 1994 and the following year signed onto a three-year extended fund facility which ended 30 April 1998. Some progress on economic reform, Paris Club debt reschedulings in 1995 and 1996, and oil and gas sector expansion contributed to a recovery in growth since 1995. Still, the economy remains heavily dependent on volatile oil and gas revenues. The government has continued efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector, but has had little success in reducing high unemployment and improving living standards.
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 the great bulk 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, a developing sector, may be held back by the current financial difficulties in East Asia.
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 by a scarcity of arable land, and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing 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 is an economy in disarray because of a quarter century of nearly continuous warfare. Despite its abundant natural resources, output per capita is among the world's lowest. 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 90% of exports. Notwithstanding the signing of a peace accord in November 1994, violence continues, millions of land mines remain, and many farmers are reluctant to return to their fields. As a result, much of the country's food must still be imported. To take advantage of its rich resources - gold, diamonds, extensive forests, Atlantic fisheries, and large oil deposits - Angola will need to implement the peace agreement and reform government policies. Despite the increase in the pace of civil warfare in late 1998, the economy grew by an estimated 4% in 1999. The government introduced new currency denominations in 1999, including a 1 and 5 kwanza note. Expanded oil production brightens prospects for 2000, but internal strife discourages investment outside of the petroleum sector.
Anguilla has few natural resources, and the economy depends heavily on luxury tourism, offshore banking, lobster fishing, and remittances from emigrants. The economy, and especially the tourism sector, suffered a setback in late 1995 due to the effects of Hurricane Luis in September but recovered in 1996. Increased activity in the tourism industry, which has spurred the growth of the construction sector, contributed to economic growth in 1997-98. Anguillan officials have put substantial effort into developing the offshore financing sector. A comprehensive package of financial services legislation was enacted in late 1994. In the medium term, prospects for the economy will depend on the tourism sector and, therefore, on continuing income growth in the industrialized nations as well as favorable weather conditions.
No economic activity is conducted at present, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism, both based abroad. Antarctic fisheries in 1998-99 (1 July-30 June) reported landing 119,898 metric tons. Unregulated fishing landed five to six times more than the regulated fishery, and allegedly illegal fishing in antarctic waters in 1998 resulted in the seizure (by France and Australia) of at least eight fishing ships. A total of 10,013 tourists visited in the 1998-99 summer, up from the 9,604 who visited the previous year. Nearly all of them were passengers on 16 commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that made 116 trips during the summer. Most tourist trips lasted approximately two weeks.
Antigua and Barbuda
Tourism continues to be the dominant activity in the economy accounting directly or indirectly for more than half of GDP. In 1999 the budding offshore financial sector was seriously hurt by financial sanctions imposed by the US and UK as a result of the loosening of its money-laundering controls. The government has made efforts to comply with international demands in order to get the sanctions lifted. The dual island nation's agricultural production is mainly directed to the domestic market; the sector is constrained by the limited water supply and labor shortages that reflect the pull 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 about one-third of all tourist arrivals.
Economic activity is limited to the exploitation of natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, fish, and seals.
Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. However, when President Carlos MENEM took office in 1989, the country had piled up huge external debts, inflation had reached 200% per month, and output was plummeting. To combat the economic crisis, the government embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. In 1991, it implemented radical monetary reforms which pegged the peso to the US dollar and limited the growth in the monetary base by law to the growth in reserves. Inflation fell sharply in subsequent years. In 1995, the Mexican peso crisis produced capital flight, the loss of banking system deposits, and a severe, but short-lived, recession; a series of reforms to bolster the domestic banking system followed. Real GDP growth recovered strongly, reaching 8% in 1997. In 1998, international financial turmoil caused by Russia's problems and increasing investor anxiety over Brazil produced the highest domestic interest rates in more than three years, halving the growth rate of the economy. Conditions worsened in 1999 with GDP falling by 3%. President Fernando DE LA RUA, who took office in December 1999, sponsored tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, which had ballooned to 2.5% of GDP in 1999. The new government also arranged a new $7.4 billion stand-by facility with the IMF for contingency purposes - almost three times the size of the previous arrangement. Key challenges facing the new government include reforming the country's rigid labor code and addressing the precarious financial situation of several highly indebted provinces.
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 (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 program that has resulted in positive growth rates in 1995-99. Armenia also managed to slash inflation and to privatize most small- and medium-sized enterprises. The chronic energy shortages Armenia suffered in recent years have been largely offset by the energy supplied by one of its nuclear power plants at Metsamor. Continued Russian financial difficulties have hurt the trade sector especially, but have been offset by international aid, domestic restructuring, and foreign direct investment.
Tourism is the mainstay of the Aruban economy, although offshore banking and oil refining and storage are 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 less than 1% unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
no economic activity
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 has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP at the level of the four dominant West European economies. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Commodities account for 57% of the value of total exports, so that a downturn in world commodity prices can have a big impact on the economy. The government is pushing for increased exports of manufactured goods, but competition in international markets continues to be severe. While Australia has suffered from the low growth and high unemployment characterizing the OECD countries in the early 1990s and during the recent financial problems in East Asia, the economy has expanded at a solid 4% annual growth pace in the last five years. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is a key factor behind the economy's resilience to the regional crisis and its stronger than expected growth rate. Growth in 2000 will depend on key international commodity prices, the extent of recovery in nearby Asian economies, and the strength of US and European markets.
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. Through privatization efforts, the 1996-98 budget consolidation programs, and austerity measures, Austria has brought its total public sector deficit down to 2.1% of GDP in 1999 and public debt - at 63.1% of GDP in 1998 - more or less in line with the 60% of GDP required by the EMU's Maastricht criteria. Cuts mainly have affected the civil service and Austria's generous social benefit system, the two major causes of the government's deficit. To meet increased competition from both EU and Central European countries, Austria will need to emphasize knowledge-based sectors of the economy and deregulate the service sector. Growth, which slowed to 2.0% in 1999, probably will rebound to 2.8% in both 2000 and 2001.
Azerbaijan is less developed industrially than either Armenia or Georgia, the other Caucasian states. It resembles the Central Asian states in its majority Muslim population, high structural unemployment, and low standard of living. The economy's most prominent products are oil, cotton, and natural gas. Production from the Caspian oil field declined through 1997 but registered an increase in 1998-99. Negotiation of 19 production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to oil field 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. An obstacle to economic progress, including stepped up foreign investment, 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 up with Turkey, Iran, UAE, and the nations of Europe. Growth in 2000 should match growth in 1999. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices and the location of new pipelines in the region.
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 40% of the archipelago's labor force. Moderate growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences led to an increase of the country's GDP by an estimated 3% in 1998. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute less than 10% of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run will depend heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector and continued income growth in the US, which accounts for the majority of tourist visitors.
In Bahrain, petroleum production and processing account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP. Economic conditions have fluctuated with the changing fortunes of oil since 1985, for example, during and following the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. A large share of exports consists of petroleum products made from imported crude. Construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of both oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems.
no economic activity
Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains one of the world's poorest, most densely populated, and least developed nations. The economy is largely agricultural, with the cultivation of rice the single most important activity in the economy. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, the inefficiency of state-owned enterprises, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), inadequate power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA Wajed's Awami League government has made some headway improving the climate for foreign investors and liberalizing the capital markets; for example, it has negotiated with foreign firms for oil and gas exploration, better countrywide distribution of cooking gas, and the construction of natural gas pipelines and power plants. Progress on other economic reforms has been halting because of opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups. The especially severe floods of 1998 increased the country's reliance on large-scale international aid. So far the East Asian financial crisis has not had major impact on the economy.
Historically, the Barbadian economy had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but production in recent years has diversified into manufacturing and tourism. The start of the Port Charles Marina project in Speightstown helped the tourism industry continue to expand in 1996-99. Offshore finance and informatics are important foreign exchange earners, and there is also a light manufacturing sector. The government continues its efforts to reduce the unacceptably high unemployment rate, encourage direct foreign investment, and privatize remaining state-owned enterprises.
Bassas da India
no economic activity
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 re-imposed administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates and expanded the state's right to intervene in the management of private enterprise. In addition to the burdens imposed by high inflation, businesses have been subject to pressure on the part of central and local governments, e.g., arbitrary changes in regulations, numerous rigorous inspections, and retroactive application of new business regulations prohibiting practices that had been legal. Further economic problems are two consecutive bad harvests, 1998-99, and persistent trade deficits. Close relations with Russia, possibly leading to reunion, color the pattern of economic developments. For the time being, Belarus remains self-isolated from the West and its open-market economies.
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, although the government is encouraging investment in the southern region of Wallonia. 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. About three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Belgium's public debt fell from 127% of GDP in 1996 to 122% of GDP in 1998 and the government is trying to control its expenditures to bring the figure more into line with other industrialized countries. Belgium became a charter member of the European Monetary Union (EMU) in January 1999. The dioxin crisis - beginning in June 1999 with the discovery of a cancer-causing substance in animal feed - constituted a serious blow to the food-processing industry, both domestically and internationally. This crisis slowed down GDP growth with recovery expected in the year 2000.
The small, essentially private enterprise economy is based primarily on agriculture, agro-based industry, and merchandising, with tourism and construction assuming greater importance. Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for nearly half of exports, while the banana industry is the country's largest employer. The government's tough austerity program in 1997 resulted in an economic slowdown that continued in 1998. The trade deficit has been growing, mostly as a result of low export prices for sugar and bananas. The new government faces important challenges to economic stability. Rapid action to improve tax collection has been promised, but a lack of progress in reining in spending could bring the exchange rate under pressure. The tourist and construction sectors strengthened in early 1999, leading to a preliminary estimate of revived growth at 4%.
The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a sound 4% in 1990-95 and 5% in 1996-99. Rapid population growth has offset much of this growth in output. Inflation has subsided over the past three years. Commercial and transport activities, which make up a large part of GDP, are vulnerable to developments in Nigeria, particularly fuel shortages. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation in recent years. The government, still burdened with money-losing state enterprises and a bloated civil service, has been gradually implementing a structural adjustment program since 1991.
Bermuda enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, having successfully exploited its location by providing financial services for international firms and luxury tourist facilities for 360,000 visitors annually. The tourist industry, which accounts for an estimated 28% of GDP, attracts 84% of its business from North America. The industrial sector is small, and agriculture is severely limited by a lack of suitable land. About 80% of food needs are imported. International business contributes over 60% of Bermuda's economic output; a failed independence vote in late 1995 can be partially attributed to Bermudian fears of scaring away foreign firms. Government economic priorities are the further strengthening of the tourist and international financial sectors.
The economy, one of the world's smallest and least developed, is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for 90% of the population and account for about 40% of GDP. 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. 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. The Bhutanese Government has made some progress in expanding the nation's productive base and improving social welfare. Model education, social, and environment programs in Bhutan 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. Detailed controls and uncertain policies in areas like industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.
Bolivia, long one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries, has made considerable progress toward the development of a market-oriented economy. Successes under President SANCHEZ DE LOZADA (1993-1997) included the signing of a free trade agreement with Mexico and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur) as well as the privatization of the state airline, telephone company, railroad, electric power company, and oil company. His successor, Hugo BANZER Suarez has tried to further improve the country's investment climate with an anticorruption campaign. 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. Growth should rebound to perhaps 4% in 2000 given reasonably favorable world commodity prices.
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 has been almost all in private hands, farms have been small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally has been 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 large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. The bitter interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-98 at high percentage rates on a low base; but output growth slowed appreciably in 1999, and GDP remains far below the 1990 level. Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are not available. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market. In 1999, the convertible mark - the national currency introduced in 1998 - gained wider acceptance, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, faltered in both areas. Banking reform is also lagging. 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.
Agriculture still provides a livelihood for more than 80% of the population but supplies only about 50% of food needs and accounts for only 3% of GDP. Subsistence farming and cattle raising predominate. The sector is plagued by erratic rainfall and poor soils. Diamond mining and tourism also are important to the economy. Substantial mineral deposits were found in the 1970s and the mining sector grew from 25% of GDP in 1980 to 38% in 1998. Unemployment officially is 21% but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%. The Orapa 2000 project, which will double the capacity of the country's main diamond mine, will be finished in early 2000. This will be the main force behind continued economic expansion.
no economic activity; declared a nature reserve
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. In the late eighties and early nineties, high inflation hindered economic activity and investment. The Real Plan, instituted in the spring of 1994, sought to break inflationary expectations by pegging the real to the US dollar. Inflation was brought down to single digit annual figures, but not fast enough to avoid substantial real exchange rate appreciation during the transition phase of the Real Plan. This appreciation meant that Brazilian goods were now more expensive relative to goods from other countries, which contributed to large current account deficits. However, no shortage of foreign currency ensued because of the financial community's renewed interest in Brazilian markets as inflation rates stabilized and the debt crisis of the eighties faded from memory. The maintenance of large current account deficits via capital account surpluses became problematic as investors became more risk averse to emerging market exposure as a consequence of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the Russian bond default in August 1998. After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a $41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998. In January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that the real would no longer be pegged to the US dollar. This devaluation helped moderate the downturn in economic growth in 1999 that investors had expressed concerns about over the summer of 1998. Brazil's debt to GDP ratio of 48% for 1999 beat the IMF target and helped reassure investors that Brazil will maintain tight fiscal and monetary policy even with a floating currency. The economy is expected to push growth up to 3% in 2000.
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.
British Virgin Islands
The economy, one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism, which generates an estimated 45% of the national income. An estimated 350,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 1997. 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. An estimated 250,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 1997. 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.
This small, wealthy economy is a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation and welfare measures, and village tradition. It is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas, with revenues from the petroleum sector accounting for over 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 food and housing. The government has shown progress in its basic policy of diversifying the economy away from oil and gas. Brunei's leaders are concerned that steadily increased integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion although it has taken steps to become a more prominent player by serving as chairman for the 2000 APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum. Growth in 1999 is estimated at 2.5% due to higher oil prices in the second half.
In April 1997, the current ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) government won pre-term parliamentary elections and introduced an IMF currency board system which succeeded in stabilizing the economy. The triple digit inflation of 1996 and 1997 has given way to an official consumer price increase of 6.2% in 1999. Following declines in GDP in both 1996 and 1997, the economy grew an officially estimated 3.5% in 1998 and 2.5% in 1999. In September 1998, the IMF approved a three-year Extended Fund Facility, which provides credits worth approximately $900 million, designed to support Bulgaria's reform efforts. In 1999, an unfavorable international environment - primarily caused by the Kosovo conflict - and structural reforms slowed economic growth, but forecasters are predicting accelerated growth over the next several years. The government's structural reform program includes: (a) privatization and, where appropriate, liquidation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs); (b) liberalization of agricultural policies, including creating conditions for the development of a land market; (c) reform of the country's social insurance programs; and (d) reforms to strengthen contract enforcement and fight crime and corruption.
One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso has a high population density, few natural resources, and a fragile soil. About 90% of the population is engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture which is highly vulnerable to variations in rainfall. 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 its macroeconomic progress in 2000-2001 depends on continued low inflation, reduction in the trade deficit, and reforms designed to encourage private investment.
Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantely agricultural with roughly 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its economic health depends on the coffee crop, which accounts for 80% of foreign exchange earnings. The ability to pay for imports therefore rests largely on the vagaries of the climate and the international coffee market. Since October 1993 the nation has suffered from massive ethnic-based violence which has resulted in the death of perhaps 250,000 persons and the displacement of about 800,000 others. Foods, medicines, and electricity remain in short supply.
After four years of solid macroeconomic performance, Cambodia's economy slowed dramatically in 1997-98 due to the regional economic crisis, civil violence, and political infighting. Foreign investment and tourism fell off. Also, in 1998 the main harvest was hit by drought. But in 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, progress was made on economic reforms and growth resumed at 4%. 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. Recurring political instability and corruption within government discourage foreign investment and delay foreign aid. On the brighter side, the government is addressing these issues with assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors. So long as political stability lasts, the Cambodian economy is likely to grow at a respectable pace.
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. The government, however, has failed to press forward vigorously with these programs. The latest enhanced structural adjustment agreement was signed in October 1997; the parties hope this will prove more successful, yet government mismanagement and corruption remain problems. Inflation has been brought back under control. Progress toward privatization of remaining state industry should support continued economic growth in 2000.
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. Real rates of growth have averaged nearly 3.0% since 1993. Unemployment is falling and government budget surpluses are being partially devoted to reducing the large public sector debt. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which included Mexico) have touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. With 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 possibility of a split in the federation. Another long-term concern is the flow south to the US of professional persons lured by higher pay, lower taxes, and the immense high-tech infrastructure.
Cape Verde's low per capita GDP reflects a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought. The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for almost 70% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of agriculture in GDP in 1998 was only 13%, of which fishing accounts for 1.5%. About 90% 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 constitute a supplement to GDP of more than 20%. Economic reforms, launched by the new democratic government in 1991, are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Prospects for 2000 depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program.
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 1997, 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 visitors in 1997. 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 nearly 54%. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked position, a poor transportation system, a largely unskilled work force, and a legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. The 50% devaluation of the currencies of 14 Francophone African nations on 12 January 1994 had mixed effects on the CAR's economy. Diamond, timber, coffee, and cotton exports increased, leading an estimated rise of GDP of 7% in 1994 and nearly 5% in 1995. Military rebellions and social unrest in 1996 were accompanied by widespread destruction of property and a drop in GDP of 2%. Ongoing violence between the government and rebel military groups over pay issues, living conditions, and political representation has destroyed many businesses in the capital and reduced tax revenues for the government. The IMF approved an Extended Structure Adjustment Facility in 1998. The government has set targets of annual 5% growth and 2.5% inflation for 2000-2001.
Landlocked Chad's economic development suffers from it's geographic remoteness, drought, lack of infrastructure, and political turmoil. About 85% of the population depends on agriculture, including the herding of livestock. Of Africa's Francophone countries, Chad benefited least from the 50% devaluation of their currencies in January 1994. Financial aid from the World Bank, the African Development Fund, and other sources is directed largely at the improvement of agriculture, especially livestock production. Due to lack of financing, the development of the Doba Basin oil fields, originally due to finish in 2000, has been substantially delayed.
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 the period 1991-1997, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and 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 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 a return to strong growth in 2000 is likely. The inauguration of Ricardo LAGOS in March 2000, succeeding Eduardo FREI, will keep the presidency in the hands of the center-left Concertacion coalition that has held office since the return of civilian rule in 1990.
Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been moving the economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented economy but still within a rigid political framework of Communist Party control. To this end the authorities have switched to a system of household 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 enterprise 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. In 1999, with its 1.25 billion people but a GDP of just $3,800 per capita, China became the second largest economy in the world after the US. Agricultural output doubled in the 1980s, and industry also posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy, lassitude, corruption) and of capitalism (windfall gains and stepped-up inflation). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. In late 1993 China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms aimed at giving still more play to market-oriented institutions and at strengthening the center's control over the financial system; state enterprises would continue to dominate many key industries in what was now termed "a socialist market economy". In 1995-99 inflation dropped sharply, reflecting tighter monetary policies and stronger measures to control food prices. At the same time, the government struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, most of which had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy and many of which had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 50 to 100 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 growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to continued rapid economic 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. The next few years will witness increasing tensions between a highly centralized political system and an increasingly decentralized economic system.
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 by union workers. With the support of the government, Australian-based Casinos Austria International Ltd. built a $34 million casino on Christmas Island, which opened in 1993. As of yearend 1999, gaming facilities at the casino were temporarily closed but were expected to reopen in early 2000. Another economic prospect is the possible location of a space-launching site on the 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. Copra and fresh coconuts are the major export earners. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia.
Colombia is poised for moderate growth in the next several years, marking an end to the severe 1999 recession when GDP fell by about 5%. President PASTRANA's well-respected economic team is taking steps to keep the recovery on track, such as lowering interest rates and shoring up the financial system. In its loan agreement with the IMF, the administration has pledged to take additional steps to restore growth, reduce inflation, and improve the public sector's fiscal health. Many challenges to sustainable growth remain, however. Unemployment reached a record 20% in 1999 and may remain high, contributing to the extreme inequality in income distribution. Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain future: new exploration is needed to offset a pending decline in oil production, and the coffee harvest has dropped off because of aging plantations and natural disasters. The lack of public security is a key concern for investors, making progress in the government's peace negotiations with insurgent groups an important driver of economic performance. Colombia is looking for international financial assistance to boost economic recovery and peace prospects.
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, is the leading sector of the economy. It 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 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. Continued foreign support is essential if the goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be met.
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 new government instituted a tight fiscal policy that initially curbed inflation and currency depreciation, but these small gains were quickly reversed when the foreign-backed rebellion in the eastern part of the country began in August 1998. The war has dramatically reduced government revenue, and increased external debt. Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict and because of increased government harassment and restrictions. Poor infrastructure, an uncertain legal framework, corruption, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations remain a brake on investment and growth. A number of IMF and World Bank missions have met with the new government to help it develop a coherent economic plan but associated reforms are on hold. Assuming moderate peace, annual growth is likely to increase to nearly 5% in 2000-01, but inflation will continue to be a problem.
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. Moreover, the government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings, contributing to the government's shortage of revenues. The 12 January 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 61% in 1994 but inflation has subsided since. Economic reform efforts continued with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF. The reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, who returned to power when the war ended in October 1997, publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices in 1998, which worsened the Republic of the Congo's budget deficit. A second blow was the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998. Even with high world oil prices, Congo is unlikely to realize growth of more than 5% in 2000-01.
Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign 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 made up for by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. Efforts to exploit tourism potential, encourage offshore banking, and expand the mining and fishing industries have been partially successful in stimulating investment and growth.
Coral Sea Islands
no economic activity
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. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 4% in 1997, 6% in 1998, and 7% in 1999. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, 12% in 1998, and 11% in 1999. Large government deficits - fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt - have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. Political resistance to privatization has stalled liberalization efforts.
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 attempts by the government to diversify the economy, it is still largely 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 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. The 50% devaluation of Franc Zone currencies on 12 January 1994 caused a one-time jump in the inflation rate to 26% in 1994, but the rate fell sharply in 1996-99. Moreover, government adherence to donor-mandated reforms led to a jump in growth to 5% annually in 1996-99. Growth may slow in 2000 because of the difficulty of meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and post-coup instability.
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. Croatia faces considerable economic problems stemming from: the legacy of longtime communist mismanagement of the economy; damage during the internecine fighting to bridges, factories, power lines, buildings, and houses; the large refugee and displaced population, both Croatian and Bosnian; and the disruption of economic ties. Western aid and investment, especially in the tourist and oil industries, would help restore the economy. The government has been successful in some reform efforts - partially macroeconomic stabilization policies - and it has normalized relations with its creditors. Yet it still is struggling with privatization of large state enterprises and with bank reform. The recession that began at the end of 1998 continued through most of 1999, and GDP growth for the year was flat. Inflation remained in check and the kuna was stable. The death of President TUDJMAN in December 1999, and the defeat of his ruling Coatian Democratic Union or HDZ party in parliamentary and presidential elections in January 2000 has ushered in a new government committed to economic reform but faced with the challenge of halting the economic decline.
The state under the durable dictatorship of Fidel CASTRO plays the primary role in the domestic economy and controls practically all foreign trade. The government has undertaken several reforms in recent years to stem excess liquidity, increase labor incentives, and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. The liberalized agricultural markets introduced in October 1994, at which state and private farmers sell above-quota production at unrestricted prices, have broadened legal consumption alternatives and reduced black market prices. Government efforts to lower subsidies to unprofitable enterprises and to shrink the money supply caused the semi-official exchange rate for the Cuban peso to move from a peak of 120 to the dollar in the summer of 1994 to 21 to the dollar by yearend 1999. New taxes introduced in 1996 have helped drive down the number of self-employed workers from 208,000 in January 1996. Havana announced in 1995 that GDP declined by 35% during 1989-93, the result of lost Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. The drop in GDP apparently halted in 1994, when Cuba reported 0.7% growth, followed by increases of 2.5% in 1995 and 7.8% in 1996. Growth slowed again in 1997 and 1998 to 2.5% and 1.2% respectively. Growth recovered again in 1999 with a 6.2% increase in GDP, due to the continued growth of tourism. Central control is complicated by the existence of the informal economy, much of which is denominated in dollars. Living standards for the average (dollarless) Cuban remain at a depressed level compared with 1990. The continuation of gradual economic reforms and increase in tourism suggest growth of 4% to 5% in 2000.
Economic affairs are dominated by the division of the country into the southern (Greek) area controlled by the Cyprus Government and the northern Turkish Cypriot-administered area. The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates in the 1990s reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability on the island and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy in the south is focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the EU. As in the Turkish sector, water shortage is a growing problem, and several desalination plants are planned. The Turkish Cypriot economy has about one-fifth the population and one-third the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognized only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing, and foreign firms have hesitated to invest there. The economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. Moreover, the small, vulnerable economy has suffered because the Turkish lira is legal tender. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides direct and indirect aid to tourism, education, industry, etc.
Political and financial crises in 1997 shattered the Czech Republic's image as one of the most stable and prosperous of post-Communist states. Delays in enterprise restructuring and failure to develop a well-functioning capital market played major roles in Czech economic troubles, which culminated in a currency crisis in May. The currency was forced out of its fluctuation band as investors worried that the current account deficit, which reached nearly 8% of GDP in 1996, would become unsustainable. After expending $3 billion in vain to support the currency, the central bank let it float. The growing current account imbalance reflected a surge in domestic demand and poor export performance, as wage increases outpaced productivity. The government was forced to introduce two austerity packages later in the spring which cut government spending by 2.5% of GDP. Growth dropped to 0.3% in 1997, -2.3% in 1998, and -0.5% in 1999. The basic transition problem continues to be too much direct and indirect government influence on the privatized economy. The government established a restructuring agency in 1999 and launched a revitalization program - to spur the sale of firms to foreign companies. Key priorities include accelerating legislative convergence with EU norms, restructuring enterprises, and privatizing banks and utilities. The economy, fueled by increased export growth and investment, is expected to recover in 2000.
This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, and high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food. The center-left coalition government is concentrating on reducing the unemployment rate and the budget deficit as well as following the previous government's policies of maintaining low inflation and a current account surplus. The coalition also vows to maintain a stable currency. The coalition has lowered marginal income tax rates while maintaining overall tax revenues; boosted industrial competitiveness through labor market and tax reforms; increased research and development funds; and improved welfare services for the neediest while cutting paperwork and delays. Denmark chose not to join the 11 other EU members who launched the euro on 1 January 1999.
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 40% to 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). Also, renewed fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea has disturbed normal external channels of commerce. 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.
The economy depends on agriculture and is highly vulnerable to climatic conditions, notably tropical storms. Agriculture, primarily bananas, accounts for 21% of GDP and employs 40% of the labor force. Development of the tourist industry remains difficult because of the rugged coastline, lack of beaches, and the lack of an international airport. Hurricane Luis devastated the country's banana crop in September 1995; tropical storms had wiped out one-quarter of the crop in 1994 as well. The economy's recovery continued in 1998, fueled by increases in construction, soap production, and tourist arrivals. The government is attempting to develop an offshore financial industry in order to diversify the island's production base.
In December 1996, incoming President FERNANDEZ presented a bold reform package for this Caribbean economy - including the devaluation of the peso, income tax cuts, a 50% increase in sales taxes, reduced import tariffs, and increased gasoline prices - in an attempt to create a market-oriented economy that can compete internationally. Even though most reforms are stalled in the legislature - including the intellectual property rights bill, social security reform, and a new electricity law first submitted in 1993 - the economy has grown vigorously under FERNANDEZ's administration. Construction, tourism and telecommunications are leading the advance. The government is working to increase electric generating capacity, a key to continued economic growth; the state electricity company was finally privatized following numerous delays. The continuation of this vigorous growth in 2000 will depend on the policies adopted by the new administration.
Ecuador has substantial oil resources and rich agricultural areas. Because the country exports primary products such as oil, bananas, and shrimp, fluctuations in world market prices can have a substantial domestic impact. Ecuador joined the World Trade Organization in 1996, but has failed to comply with many of its accession commitments. In recent years, growth has been uneven due to ill-conceived fiscal stabilization measures. The aftermath of El Nino and depressed oil market of 1997-98 drove Ecuador's economy into a free-fall in 1999. The beginning of 1999 saw the banking sector collapse, which helped precipitate an unprecedented default on external loans later that year. Continued economic instability drove a 70% depreciation of the currency throughout 1999, which eventually forced a desperate government to dollarize the currency regime in 2000. The move stabilized the currency, but did not stave off the ouster of the government. The new president, Gustavo NOBOA has yet to complete negotiations for a long sought IMF accord. He will find it difficult to push through the reforms necessary to make dollarization work in the long-run.
A series of IMF arrangements - coupled with massive external debt relief resulting from Egypt's participation in the Gulf war coalition - helped Egypt improve its macroeconomic performance during the 1990s. Through sound fiscal and monetary policies, Cairo tamed inflation, slashed budget deficits, and built up foreign reserves. Although the pace of structural reforms - such as privatization and new business legislation - has been slower than the IMF envisioned, Egypt's steps toward a more market-oriented economy have prompted increased foreign investment. Lower combined hard currency inflows - from tourism, worker remittances, oil revenues, and Suez Canal tolls - in 1998 and the first half of 1999 resulted in pressure on the Egyptian pound and sporadic dollar shortages, but external payments were not in crisis. Despite ample reserves, the Central Bank did not provide sufficient hard currency to commercial banks and Cairo restricted imports for a short period; these developments confirmed to some investors and currency traders that government financial operations lack sufficient coordination and openness. Monetary pressures have since eased, however, with the continued oil price recovery starting in mid-1999 and a moderate rebound in tourism. Increased gas exports are a major plus factor in future growth.
El Salvador is a poor Central American economy which has been suffering from a weak tax collection system, factory closings, the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, and weak world coffee prices. On the bright side, in recent years inflation has fallen to single digit levels, and total exports have grown substantially. The substantial trade deficit has been offset by remittances from the large number of Salvadorans living abroad and from external aid.
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 deterioration of the rural economy under successive brutal regimes has diminished potential for agriculture-led growth. A number of aid programs sponsored by the World Bank and the IMF have been cut off since 1993 because of the government's gross corruption and mismanagement. 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. The country responded favorably to the devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994. Boosts in production, along with high world oil prices, should further stimulate growth in 2000-2001.
With independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993, Eritrea faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country. The economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. The small industrial sector consists mainly of light industries with outmoded technologies. Domestic output (GDP) is substantially augmented by worker remittances from abroad. Government revenues come from custom duties and taxes on income and sales. Road construction is a top domestic priority. In the long term, Eritrea may benefit from the development of offshore oil, offshore fishing, and tourism. Eritrea's economic future depends on its ability to master fundamental social and economic problems, e.g., by reducing illiteracy, promoting job creation, expanding technical training, attracting foreign investment, and streamlining the bureaucracy. The most immediate threat to the economy, however, is the possible expansion of the border conflict with Ethiopia, which broke out in May 1998. The hostilities have drained away substantial resources vital to Eritrea's economic development.
In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991 largely because of the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999 - the second Baltic state to join - and continued its EU accession talks. GDP is forecast to grow 4% in 2000. Privatization of energy, telecommunications, railways, and other state-owned companies will continue in 2000. Estonia expects to complete its preparations for EU membership by the end of 2002.
Ethiopia's economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, 90% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent periods of drought and poor cultivation practices, and as many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy, and Ethiopia earned $267 million in 1999 by exporting 105,000 metric tons. According to current estimates, coffee contributes 10% of Ethiopia's GDP. More than 15 million people (25% of the population) derive their livelihood from the coffee sector. Other exports include live animals, hides, gold, and qat. In December 1999, Ethiopia signed a $1.4 billion joint venture deal to develop a huge natural gas field in the Somali Regional State. The war with Eritrea has forced the government to spend scarce resources on the military and forced the government to scale back ambitious development plans. Foreign investment has declined significantly. Government taxes imposed in late 1999 to raise money for the war will depress an already weak economy. The war has forced the government to improve roads and other parts of the previously neglected infrastructure, but only certain regions of the nation have benefited.
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. To encourage tourism, the Falkland Islands Development Corporation has built three lodges for visitors attracted by the abundant wildlife and trout fishing. 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.
After the severe economic troubles of the early 1990s, brought on by a drop in the vital fish catch, the Faroe Islands have come back in the last few years, with unemployment down to 5% in mid-1998. Nevertheless, the almost total dependence on fishing means the economy remains extremely vulnerable. The Faroese hope to broaden their economic base by building new fish-processing plants. Oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for deposits in the immediate area, which may lay the basis to sustained economic prosperity. The Faroese are supported by a substantial annual subsidy from Denmark.
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 are the major sources of foreign exchange. Sugar processing makes up one-third of industrial activity. Roughly 300,000 tourists visit each year, including thousands of Americans following the start of regularly scheduled non-stop air service from Los Angeles. Fiji's growth slowed in 1997 because the sugar industry suffered from low world prices and rent disputes between farmers and landowners. Drought in 1998 further damaged the sugar industry, but its recovery in 1999 contributed to robust GDP growth. Long-term problems include low investment and uncertain property rights.
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 more than 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. The economy has come back from the recession of 1990-92, which had been caused by economic overheating, depressed foreign markets, and the dismantling of the barter system between Finland and the former Soviet Union. Rapidly increasing integration with Western Europe - Finland was one of the 11 countries joining the euro monetary system (EMU) on 1 January 1999 - will dominate the economic picture over the next several years. Growth in 2000 will probably be at the same level as in 1999, enough to continue the decline in unemployment from its current high level.
France's economy combines modern capitalistic methods with extensive, but declining, government intervention. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of each sector, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunication firms. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. The government is slowly selling off holdings in France Telecom, in Air France, and in the insurance, banking, and defense industries. Meanwhile, large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe. Persistently high unemployment will continue to pose a major problem for the government; a 35-hour work week is being introduced. France has shied away from cutting exceptionally generous social welfare benefits or the enormous state bureaucracy, preferring to pare defense spending and raise taxes to keep the deficit down. France joined 10 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999.
The economy is tied closely to that of France through subsidies and imports. Besides the French space center at Kourou, fishing and forestry are the most important economic activities. The large reserves of tropical hardwoods, not fully exploited, support an expanding sawmill industry which 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.
Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industry. Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory benefited from a five-year (1994-98) development agreement with France aimed principally at creating new jobs.
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 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, manganese, and uranium exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, the economy is hobbled by poor fiscal management. In 1992, the fiscal deficit widened to 2.4% of GDP, and Gabon failed to settle arrears on its bilateral debt, leading to a cancellation of rescheduling agreements with official and private creditors. 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 and a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995. 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 helped growth, but drops in production hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. With support from higher oil prices, growth will move up in 2000-01.
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 the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 made Senegalese goods more competitive and hurt the reexport trade. The Gambia has benefited from a rebound in tourism after its decline in response to the military's takeover in July 1994. Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid and on responsible government economic management as forwarded by IMF technical help and advice. Annual GDP growth is expected to fall to less than 4% over 2000-01.
Economic conditions in the Gaza Strip - under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority since the Cairo Agreement of May 1994 - have deteriorated since the early 1990s. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36% between 1992 and 1996 owing to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and robust population growth. The downturn in economic activity 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. The most serious negative social effect of this downturn has been the emergence of chronic unemployment; average unemployment rates in the WBGS during the 1980s were generally under 5%; by the mid-1990s this level had risen to over 20%. Since 1997 Israel's use of comprehensive closures has 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. In October 1999, Israel permitted the opening of a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in accordance with the 1995 Interim Agreement. These changes to the conduct of economic activity have fueled a moderate economic recovery in 1998-99.
Georgia's economy has traditionally revolved around Black Sea tourism; cultivation of citrus fruits, tea, and grapes; mining of manganese and copper; and output of a small industrial sector producing wine, metals, machinery, chemicals, and textiles. 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, made substantial economic gains since 1995, increasing GDP growth and slashing inflation. The Georgian economy continues to experience large budget deficits due to a failure to collect tax revenues. Georgia also still suffers from energy shortages; it privatized the distribution network in 1998, and deliveries are steadily improving. Georgia is pinning its hopes for long-term recovery on the development of an international transportation corridor through the key Black Sea ports of P'ot'i and Bat'umi. The growing trade deficit, continuing problems with tax evasion and corruption, and political uncertainties cloud the short-term economic picture. However, revived investment could spur higher economic growth in 2000, perhaps up to 6%.
Germany possesses the world's third most technologically powerful economy after the US and Japan, but its basic capitalistic economy has started to struggle under the burden of generous social benefits. Structural rigidities - like a high rate of social contributions on wages - have made unemployment a long-term, not just cyclical, problem, while Germany's aging population has pushed social security outlays to exceed contributions from workers. The integration and upgrading of the eastern German economy remains a costly long-term problem, with annual transfers from the west amounting to roughly $100 billion. Growth slowed to 1.5% in 1999, largely due to lower export demand and still-low business confidence. Recovering Asian demand, a push for fiscal consolidation, and newly proposed business and income tax cuts - if passed - are expected to boost growth back to trend rates around 2.5% in 2000 and beyond. The adoption of a common European currency and the general political and economic integration of Europe will bring major changes to the German economy in the early 21st century.
Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has 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 40% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders. In 1995-97, Ghana made mixed progress under a three-year structural adjustment program in cooperation with the IMF. On the minus side, public sector wage increases and regional peacekeeping commitments have led to continued inflationary deficit financing, depreciation of the cedi, and rising public discontent with Ghana's austerity measures. A rebound in gold prices is likely to push growth over 5% in 2000-01.
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 11% to the local economy. The financial sector accounts for 20% of GDP; tourism (almost 6 million visitors in 1998), shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. 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.
no economic activity
Greece has a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about half of GDP. The government plans to privatize some leading state enterprises. Tourism is a key industry, providing a large portion of GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 4% of GDP. The economy has improved steadily over the last few years, as the government has tightened policy with the goal of qualifying Greece to join the EU's single currency (the euro) in 2001. In particular, Greece has cut its budget deficit below 2% of GDP and tightened monetary policy, with the result that inflation fell below 4% by the end of 1998 - the lowest rate in 26 years - and averaged only 2.6% in 1999. Further restructuring of the economy and the reduction of unemployment remain major challenges.
Greenland suffered negative economic growth in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. The Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) has pursued a tight fiscal policy since the late 1980s which has helped create surpluses in the public budget and low inflation. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit following the closure of the last remaining lead and zinc mine in 1990. Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishery is by far the largest income earner. Despite resumption of 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. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. About half the government revenues come from grants from the Danish Government, an important supplement of GDP.
In this island economy progress in fiscal reforms and prudent macroeconomic management have boosted annual growth to 5%-6% in 1998-99. The increase in economic activity has been led by construction and trade. Tourist facilities are being expanded; tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner. Major short-term concerns are the rising fiscal deficit and the deterioration in the external account balance. Grenada shares a common central bank and a common currency with seven other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The 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.
The economy depends mainly on US military spending and on tourist revenue. 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 suffered a setback in 1998 because of the continuing Japanese recession; 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.
The agricultural sector accounts for one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. Manufacturing and construction account for one-fifth of GDP. Since assuming office in January 1996, former President ARZU worked to implement a program of economic liberalization and political modernization. The signing of the peace accords in December 1996, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused relatively little damage to Guatemala compared to its neighbors. Remaining challenges include beefing up government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, and increasing the efficiency and openness of both government and private financial operations. Growth should remain at the same level in 2000 provided world agricultural prices do not plunge.
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 rules of the game under which Guernsey operates.
Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains a poor underdeveloped nation. The agricultural sector employs 80% of the work force. Guinea possesses over 25% of the world's bauxite reserves and is the second largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for about 75% of exports in 1998. Long-run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. The government made encouraging progress in budget management in 1997-99. Even with a recovery in prices for some of Guinea's main commodity exports, annual GDP is unlikely to increase by more than 5% in 2000-2001.
One of the 20 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. 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 off-shore oil reserves could provide much-needed revenue in the long run.
Severe drought and political turmoil contributed to Guyana's negative growth of -1.8% for 1998 following six straight years of growth of 5% or better. Growth came back to a positive 1.8% in 1999. Underlying growth factors have included expansion in the key agricultural and mining sectors, a more favorable atmosphere for business initiative, a more realistic exchange rate, a moderate inflation rate, and continued support by international organizations. President JAGDEO, the former finance minister, is taking steps to reform the economy, including drafting an investment code and restructuring the inefficient and unresponsive public sector. Problems include a shortage of skilled labor and an inadequate and poorly maintained transportation system. Also, electricity has been in short supply; the privatization of the sector in August 1999 is expected to improve prospects. The government must persist in efforts to manage its sizable external debt and extend its privatization program.
About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Nearly 70% of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming and employs about two-thirds of the economically active work force. The country has experienced little job creation since President PREVAL took office in February 1996, although the informal economy is growing. Failure to reach agreements with international sponsors have denied Haiti badly needed budget and development assistance. Meeting aid conditions in 2000 will be especially challenging in the face of mounting popular criticism of reforms.
Heard Island and McDonald Islands
no economic activity
Holy See (Vatican City)
This unique, noncommercial economy is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world, the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to, or somewhat better than, those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.
Honduras spent 1999 primarily recovering from Hurricane Mitch, which killed more than 5,000 people and caused about $3 billion in damage. Although it is slated to receive about $2.76 billion in international aid, the economy shrank 3% with widening current account and fiscal deficits in 1999. It nevertheless met most of its macroeconomic targets, and 2000 should see economic recovery as reconstruction projects make progress and the agricultural sector recovers. Honduras may also get relief from its $4.4 billion external debt under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Hong Kong has a bustling free market economy highly dependent on international trade. Natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. Indeed, 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. Per capita GDP compares with the level in the four big countries of Western Europe. GDP growth averaged a strong 5% in 1989-97. The widespread Asian economic difficulties in 1998 hit this trade-dependent economy quite hard, with GDP down 5%. The economy is recovering, with growth of 1.8% in 1999 to be followed by projected growth of 3.7% in 2000.
no economic activity
Hungary continues to demonstrate strong economic growth and to work toward accession to the European Union. Over 85% of the economy has been privatized. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms has been widespread with cumulative foreign direct investment $21 billion by 1999. Hungarian sovereign debt is now rated investment grade. GDP growth of 4% in 1999 will likely be matched or even exceeded in 2000. Inflation, while diminished, is still high at 10%. Economic reform measures include regional development, encouragement of small- and medium-size enterprises, and support of housing.
Iceland's Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system, low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 70% of export earnings and employs 12% of the work force. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant hydrothermal and geothermal power), Iceland's economy is vulnerable to changing world fish prices. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to drops in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. The center-right government plans to continue its policies of 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 is likely to slow in 2000, to a still respectable 3.5%.
India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. More than a third of the population is too poor to be able to afford an adequate diet, and market surveys indicate that fewer than 5% of all households had an annual income equivalent to $2,300 or more in 1995-96. India's international payments position remained strong in 1999 with adequate foreign exchange reserves, reasonably stable exchange rates, and booming exports of software services. Lower production of some nonfoodgrain crops offset recovery in industrial production. Strong demand for India's high technology exports will bolster growth in 2000.
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.
The Indonesian economy stabilized in 1999, following the sharp contraction and high inflation of 1998. By following tight monetary policy, the government reduced inflation from over 70% in 1998 to 2% in 1999. Although interest rates spiked as high as 70% in response to the monetary contraction, they fell rapidly to the 10% to 15% range. The economy stopped its free-fall as GDP showed some growth in the second half of 1999, although GDP for the year as a whole showed no growth. The government managed to recapitalize a handful of private banks and has begun recapitalizing the state-owned banking sector. New lending, however, remains almost unavailable as banks continue to be wary of issuing new debt in an environment where little progress has been made in restructuring the huge burden of outstanding debts. IMF payments were suspended late in 1999 as the result of evidence that a private bank had illegally funneled payments it received from the government to one of the political parties. The government has forecast growth of 3.8% for FY00/01. The spread of sectarian violence and continuing dissatisfaction with the pace of bank and debt restructuring will make it difficult for Indonesia to attract the private investment necessary to achieve this goal.
Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. President KHATAMI has continued to follow the market reform plans of former President RAFSANJANI and has indicated that he will pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy although he has made little progress toward that goal. The strong oil market in 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments. Iran's financial situation tightened in 1997 and deteriorated further in 1998 because of lower oil prices. The subsequent zoom in oil prices in 1999 afforded Iran fiscal breathing room but does not solve Iran's structural economic problems.
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 of at least $100 billion from the war. After the end of hostilities 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. The government's policies of supporting large military and internal security forces and of allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have exacerbated shortages. The implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve economic conditions. For the first six six-month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. In December 1999, the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the oil-for-food program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now about three-quarters their prewar level. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error.
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust 9% in 1995-99. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 39% of GDP and about 80% of exports and employs 28% of the labor force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland's robust growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in both construction and business investment. Over the past decade, the Irish government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, and promote foreign investment. The unemployment rate has been halved; job creation remains a primary concern of government policy. Recent efforts have concentrated on improving workers' qualifications and the education system. Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations. The construction and other sectors are beginning to press against capacity, and growth is expected to drop in 2000, perhaps by 1 percentage point.
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 is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains. Diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are 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 influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR topped 750,000 during the period 1989-99, bringing the population of Israel from the former Soviet Union to 1 million, one-sixth of the total population, and adding scientific and professional expertise of substantial value for the economy's future. The influx, coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, energized Israel's economy, which grew rapidly in the early 1990s. But growth began slowing in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out. Those policies brought inflation down to record low levels in 1999 and, coupled with improved prospects for the Middle East peace process, are creating a climate for stronger GDP growth in the year 2000.
Italy has a diversified industrial economy with approximately 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 agricultural south, with more than 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. For several years Italy has adopted budgets compliant with the requirements of the European Monetary Union (EMU); representatives of government, labor, and employers also agreed to an update of the 1993 "social pact," which has been widely credited with having brought Italy's inflation into conformity with EMU requirements. Italy must work to stimulate employment, promote wage flexibility, hold down the growth in pensions, and tackle the informal economy. Growth was 1.3% in 1999 and should edge up to 2.6% in 2000, led by investment and exports.
Key sectors in this island economy are bauxite (alumina and bauxite account for more than half of exports) and tourism. Since assuming office in 1992, Prime Minister PATTERSON has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Continued tight monetary and fiscal policies have helped slow inflation - although inflationary pressures are mounting - and stabilize the exchange rate, but have resulted in the slowdown of economic growth (moving from 1.5% in 1992 to 0.5% in 1995). In 1996, GDP showed negative growth (-1.4%) and remained negative through 1999. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; the weak financial condition of business in general resulting in receiverships or closures and downsizings of companies; the shift in investment portfolios to non-productive, short-term high yield instruments; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt for government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Depressed economic conditions in 1999 led to increased civil unrest, including a mounting crime rate. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment in the productive sectors, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, stabilizing the labor environment, selling off reacquired firms, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.
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 located on the island.
Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) have 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 in the world 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 1992-95 largely because of the aftereffects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Growth picked up to 3.9% in 1996, largely a reflection of stimulative fiscal and monetary policies as well as low rates of inflation. But in 1997-98 Japan experienced a wrenching recession, centered about financial difficulties in the banking system and real estate markets and exacerbated by rigidities in corporate structures and labor markets. In 1999 output started to stabilize as emergency government spending began to take hold and business confidence gradually improved. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging 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".
no economic activity
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.
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 is a small Arab country with inadequate supplies of water and other natural resources such as oil. The Persian Gulf crisis, which began in August 1990, aggravated Jordan's already serious economic problems, forcing the government to shelve the IMF program, stop most debt payments, and suspend rescheduling negotiations. Aid from Gulf Arab states, worker remittances, and trade contracted; and refugees flooded the country, producing serious balance-of-payments problems, stunting GDP growth, and straining government resources. The economy rebounded in 1992, largely due to the influx of capital repatriated by workers returning from the Gulf. After averaging 9% in 1992-95, GDP growth averaged only 2% during 1996-99. In an attempt to spur growth, King ABDALLAH has undertaken limited economic reform, including partial privatization of some state owned enterprises and Jordan's entry in January 2000 into the World Trade Organization (WTrO). Debt, poverty, and unemployment are fundamental ongoing economic problems.
Juan de Nova Island
12,000 tons of guano are mined per year.
Kazakhstan, the second largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, possesses enormous untapped fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has considerable agricultural potential with its vast steppe lands accommodating both livestock and grain production. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a relatively large machine building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR and the collapse of demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products have resulted in a sharp contraction of the economy since 1991, 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. The December 1996 signing of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium agreement to build a new pipeline from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oil field to the Black Sea increases prospects for substantially larger oil exports in several years. Kazakhstan's economy turned downward in 1998 with a 2.5% decline in GDP growth due to slumping oil prices and the August financial crisis in Russia. A bright spot in 1999 was the recovery of international oil prices, which, combined with a well-timed tenge devaluation and a bumper grain harvest, pulled the economy out of recession.
Kenya is well placed to serve as an engine of growth in East Africa, but its economy is stagnating because of poor management and uneven commitment to reform. In 1993, the government of Kenya implemented a program of economic liberalization and reform that included the removal of import licensing, price controls, and foreign exchange controls. With the support of the World Bank, IMF, and other donors, the reforms led to a brief turnaround in economic performance following a period of negative growth in the early 1990s. Kenya's real GDP grew 5% in 1995 and 4% in 1996, and inflation remained under control. Growth slowed in 1997-99 however. Political violence damaged the tourist industry, and Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program lapsed due to the government's failure to maintain reform or address public sector corruption. A new economic team was put in place in 1999 to revitalize the reform effort, strengthen the civil service, and curb corruption, but wary donors continue to question the government's commitment to sound economic policy. Long-term barriers to development include electricity shortages, the government's continued and inefficient dominance of key sectors, endemic corruption, and the country's high population growth rate.
no economic activity
A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few national 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, largely from the UK and Japan, is a critical supplement to GDP, equal to 25%-50% of GDP in recent years. Remittances from workers abroad account for more than $5 million each year.
North Korea ranks among the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies. The resulting economic distortions and the government's reluctance to publicize economic data limit the amount of reliable information available. State-owned industry produces nearly all manufactured goods, and the regime continues to devote its focus on heavy and military industries at the expense of light and consumer industries. Economic conditions remain stagnant at best and the country's deepening economic slide has been fueled by acute energy shortages, poorly maintained and aging industrial facilities, and a lack of new investment. The agricultural outlook, though slightly improved over previous years, remains weak. The combined effects of serious fertilizer shortages, successive natural disasters, and structural constraints - such as marginal arable land and a short growing season - have reduced staple grain output to more than 1 million tons less than what the country needs to meet even minimum international requirements. The steady flow of international food aid has been critical in meeting the population's basic food needs. The impact of other forms of humanitarian assistance such as medical supplies and agricultural assistance largely has been limited to local areas. Even with aid, malnutrition rates are among the world's highest and estimates of mortality range in the hundreds of thousands as a direct result of starvation or famine-related diseases.
As one of the Four Dragons of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago its GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is seven times India's, 13 times North Korea's, and comparable 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 certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. By 1999 it had recovered financial stability, turning a substantial decline in 1998 into strong growth in 1999. Seoul has also pressed the country's largest business groups to swap subsidiaries to promote specialization, and the administration has directed many of the mid-sized conglomerates into debt-workout programs with creditor banks. The major economic challenge for the next several years presumably is the maintenance of the pace of market reforms to restore the old growth pattern.
Kuwait is a small, relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of about 94 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues, and 75% of government income. Kuwait lacks water and has practically no arable land, thus preventing development of agriculture. With the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Higher oil prices reduced the budget deficit from $5.5 billion to $3 billion in 1999, and prices are expected to remain relatively strong throughout 2000. The government is proceeding slowly with reforms. It inaugurated Kuwait's first free-trade zone in 1999 and will continue discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country.
Kyrgyzstan is a small, poor, mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural economy. Cotton, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products and exports. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, and electricity. Kyrgyzstan has been one of the most progressive countries of the former Soviet Union in carrying out market reforms. Following a successful stabilization program, which lowered inflation from 88% in 1994 to 15% for 1997, attention is turning toward stimulating growth. Much of the government's stock in enterprises has been sold. Drops in production had been severe since the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but by mid-1995 production began to recover and exports began to increase. Pensioners, unemployed workers, and government workers with salary arrears continue to suffer. Foreign assistance played a substantial role in the country's economic turnaround in 1996-97. The government has adopted a series of measures to combat such severe problems as excessive external debt, inflation, inadequate revenue collection, and the spillover from Russia's economic disorders. Kyrgyzstan had moderate growth in 1999 of 3.4% with a similar rate expected for 2000.
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 1988-96. Since mid-1996, however, reform efforts have slowed, and the economy has suffered as a result. Because Laos depends heavily on its trade with Thailand, it was further damaged by the regional financial crisis beginning in 1997. From June 1997 to June 1999 the Lao kip lost 87%, and reached a crisis point in September 1999 when it fluctuated wildly, falling from 3,500 kip to the dollar to 9,000 kip to the dollar in a matter of weeks. Now that the currency has stabilized, however, the government seems content to let the current situation persist, despite 140% inflation in 1999 and limited foreign exchange reserves. A landlocked country with a primitive infrastructure, Laos 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. For the foreseeable future the economy will continue to depend on aid from the IMF and other international sources; Japan is currently the largest bilateral aid donor; aid from the former USSR/Eastern Europe has been cut sharply. As in many developing countries, deforestation and soil erosion will hamper efforts to attain a high rate of GDP growth.
In 1999 Latvia, a transitional economy, experienced zero GDP growth as it continued to feel the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) in February 1999 - the first Baltic state to join - band was invited at the Helsinki EU Summit in December 1999 to begin accession talks in early 2000. Unemployment reached 9.6% in 1999, up from 9.2% in 1998 and 6.7% in 1997. Privatization of large state-owned utilities, especially the energy sector, faced more delays in 1999, but is expected to accelerate in the next two years. Latvia projects 3.5% GDP growth, 3% inflation, and a 2% fiscal deficit in 2000. Preparing for EU membership by 2003 remains a top foreign policy priority.
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 has enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon's economy has made impressive gains since the launch of "Horizon 2000," the government's $20 billion reconstruction program in 1993. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994 and 7% in 1995 before Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 stunted economic activity. Real GDP grew at an average annual rate of less than 3% per year for 1997 and 1998 and only 1% in 1999. During 1992-98, annual inflation fell from more than 100% to 5%, and foreign exchange reserves jumped to more than $6 billion from $1.4 billion. Burgeoning capital inflows have generated foreign payments surpluses, and the Lebanese pound has remained relatively stable. Progress also has been made in rebuilding Lebanon's war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. Solidere, a $2-billion firm, is managing the reconstruction of Beirut's central business district; the stock market reopened in January 1996; and international banks and insurance companies are returning. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has had to fund reconstruction by tapping foreign exchange reserves and boosting borrowing. Reducing the government budget deficit is a major goal of the LAHUD government. The stalled peace process and ongoing violence in southern Lebanon could lead to wider hostilities that would disrupt vital capital inflows. Furthermore, the gap between rich and poor has widened in the 1990's, resulting in grassroots dissatisfaction over the skewed distribution of the reconstruction's benefits and leading the government to shift its focus from rebuilding infrastructure to improving living conditions.
Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho's only important natural resource is water. Its economy is based on subsistence agriculture, livestock, and remittances from miners employed in South Africa. The number of such mine workers has declined steadily over the past several years. In 1996 their remittances added about 33% to GDP compared with the addition of roughly 67% in 1990. A small manufacturing base depends largely on farm products which support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries. Agricultural products are exported primarily to South Africa. Proceeds from membership in a common customs union with South Africa form the majority of government revenue. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years, completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa, generating royalties that will be an important source of income for Lesotho. The pace of parastatal privatization has increased in recent years. Civil disorder in September 1998 destroyed 80% of the commercial infrastructure in Maseru and two other major towns. Most firms were not covered by insurance, and the rebuilding of small and medium business has been a significant challenge in terms of both economic growth and employment levels. Output dropped 10% in 1998 and recovered slowly in 1999.
A civil war in 1989-96 destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially the infrastructure in and around Monrovia. Many businessmen fled the country, taking capital and expertise with them. Some returned during 1997. Many will not return. Richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture, Liberia had been a producer and exporter of basic products, while local manufacturing, mainly foreign owned, had been small in scope. The democratically elected government, installed in August 1997, inherited massive international debts and currently relies on revenues from its maritime registry to provide the bulk of its foreign exchange earnings. The restoration of the infrastructure and the raising of incomes in this ravaged economy depend on the implementation of sound macro- and micro-economic policies of the new government, including the encouragement of foreign investment.
The socialist-oriented economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contributes 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. In this statist society, import restrictions and inefficient resource allocations have led to periodic shortages of basic goods and foodstuffs. The nonoil 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 farm output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food requirements. Higher oil prices in 1999 led to an increase in export revenues and helped to stimulate the economy. Following the suspension of UN sanctions in 1999, Libya has been trying to increase its attractiveness to foreign investors, and several foreign companies have visited in search of contracts.
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 the urban areas of its large European neighbors. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 18% - and easy incorporation rules have induced about 73,700 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 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
Lithuania, the Baltic state that has conducted the most trade with Russia, faced its own economic and financial crisis in 1999 as a result of the government's wrongfooted economic policies and its inadequate response to the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Preliminary figures indicate 3% negative GDP growth, 10% unemployment - the highest level since independence in 1991 - and a budget deficit estimated at between 8 and 9% of GDP. The policies that Prime Minister KUBILIUS implemented upon taking the helm in November 1999 underscore a commitment to fiscal restraint, economic stabilization, and accelerated reforms. The austere 2000 budget in based on a 2% GDP growth forecast, 3% inflation, and a 2.8% budget deficit. Lithuania was invited at the Helsinki EU summit in December 1999 to begin EU accession talks in early 2000. Privatization of the large state-owned utilities, particularly in the energy sector, and reducing the high current account deficit remain challenges for the coming year.
The stable, high-income economy features moderate growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, until recently dominated by steel, has become increasingly more diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products. During the past decades, growth in the financial sector has more than compensated for the decline in steel. Services, especially banking, account for a growing proportion of the economy. Agriculture is based on small family-owned farms. Luxembourg has especially close trade and financial ties to Belgium and the Netherlands, and as a member of the EU, enjoys the advantages of the open European market. It joined with 10 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999.
The economy is based largely on tourism (including gambling) and textile and fireworks manufacturing. Efforts to diversify have spawned other small industries - toys, artificial flowers, and electronics. The tourist sector has accounted for roughly 25% of GDP, and the clothing industry has provided about three-fourths of export earnings; the gambling industry probably represents over 40% of GDP. Macau depends on China for most of its food, fresh water, and energy imports. Japan and Hong Kong are the main suppliers of raw materials and capital goods. Output dropped 4% in 1998 and the economy remained weak in 1999. Macau reverted to Chinese administration on 20 December 1999. Gang violence, a dark spot in the economy, probably will be reduced in 2000 to the advantage of the tourism sector.
Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
The breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 deprived Macedonia, then its poorest republic, of key protected markets and large transfer payments from the center. Worker remittances and foreign aid have softened the subsequent volatile recovery period. Continued recovery depends on Macedonia's ability to attract investment, to redevelop trade ties with Greece and Serbia and Montenegro, and to maintain its commitment to economic liberalization. The economy can meet its basic food needs but depends on outside sources for all of its oil and gas and most of its modern machinery and parts. Growth in 1999 was held down by the severe regional economic dislocations caused by the Kosovo conflict.
Madagascar faces problems of chronic malnutrition, underfunded health and education facilities, a roughly 3% annual population growth rate, and severe loss of forest cover, accompanied by erosion. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for 34% of GDP and contributing more than 70% to export earnings. Industry features textile manufacturing and the processing of agricultural products. Growth in output in 1992-97 averaged less than the growth rate of the population. Growth has been held back by antigovernment strikes and demonstrations, a decline in world coffee demand, and the erratic commitment of the government to economic reform. Formidable obstacles stand in the way of Madagascar's realizing its considerable growth potential; the extent of government reforms, outside financial aid, and foreign investment will be key determinants. Growth should be in the 5% range in 2000-01.
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 accounts for 37% of GDP and 85% of export revenues. The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. The government faces strong challenges, e.g., to spur exports, to improve educational and health facilities, to face up to environmental problems of deforestation and erosion, and to deal with the rapidly growing problem of HIV/AIDS.
Malaysia made a quick economic recovery in 1999 from its worst recession since independence in 1957. GDP grew 5%, responding to a dynamic export sector, which grew over 10% and fiscal stimulus from higher government spending. The large export surplus has enabled the country to build up its already substantial financial reserves, to $31 billion at yearend 1999. This stable macroeconomic environment, in which both inflation and unemployment stand at 3% or less, has made possible the relaxation of most of the capital controls imposed by the government in 1998 to counter the impact of the Asian financial crisis. Government and private forecasters expect Malaysia to continue this trend in 2000, predicting GDP to grow another 5% to 6%. While Malaysia's immediate economic horizon looks bright, its long-term prospects are clouded by the lack of reforms in the corporate sector, particularly those dealing with competitiveness and high corporate debt.
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. Almost 400,000 tourists visited the islands in 1998. 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 minor 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 is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert. 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. In 1997, the government 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, has pushed up economic growth. Several multinational corporations increased gold mining operations in 1996-98, and the government anticipates that Mali will become a major Sub-Saharan gold exporter in the next few years. Annual growth should remain in the 5-6% range in 2000-01, and inflation should drop under 3%.
Major resources are limestone, a favorable geographic location, and a productive labor force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited freshwater supplies, and has no domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and textiles), and tourism; the state-owned Malta drydocks employs about 3,800 people. In 1999, over 1 million tourists visited the island. Per capita GDP of $13,800 places Malta in the ranks of the less affluent EU countries. The island is divided politically over the question of joining the EU. The sizable budget deficit remains a key concern.
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. Banking and other services now contribute the great bulk of GDP. Trade is mostly with the UK. The Isle of Man enjoys free access to EU markets.
US Government assistance is the mainstay of this tiny island economy. Agricultural production is concentrated on small farms, and the most important commercial crops are coconuts, tomatoes, melons, and breadfruit. Small-scale industry is limited to handicrafts, fish 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 provides roughly $65 million in annual aid. Negotiations were underway in 1999 for an extended agreement. Government downsizing, drought, a drop in construction, and the decline in tourism and foreign investment due to the Asian financial difficulties caused GDP to fall in 1996-98.
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 has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange. The majority of the work force is employed in the service sector and in administration.
A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many 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 almost 50% 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 recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In March 1999, the government signed an agreement with a joint World Bank-IMF mission on a $54 million enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF). The economic objectives have been set for 1999-2002. Privatization remains one of the key issues. Mauritania is unlikely to meet ESAF's annual GDP growth objectives of 4%-5%.
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 of the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in 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. A record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999, however. The government's development strategy centers on foreign investment. 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. Economic performance in 1991-99 continued strong with solid growth and low unemployment.
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 has a free market economy with a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. The number of state-owned enterprises in Mexico has fallen from more than 1,000 in 1982 to fewer than 200 in 1999. The ZEDILLO administration is privatizing and expanding competition in sea ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity, natural gas distribution, and airports. A strong export sector helped to cushion the economy's decline in 1995 and led the recovery in 1996-99. Private consumption became the leading driver of growth, accompanied by increased employment and higher wages. Mexico still needs to overcome many structural problems as it strives to modernize its economy and raise living standards. Income distribution is very unequal, with the top 20% of income earners accounting for 55% of income. Trade with the US and Canada has nearly doubled since NAFTA was implemented in 1994. Mexico is pursuing additional trade agreements with most countries in Latin America and has signed a free trade deal with the EU to lessen its dependence on the US. The government is pursuing conservative economic policies in 2000 to avoid another end-of-term economic crisis, but it still projects an economic growth rate of 4.5% because of the strong US economy and high oil prices.
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 remoteness of the location and a lack of adequate facilities hinder development. Financial assistance from the US is the primary source of revenue, with the US pledged to spend $1.3 billion in the islands in 1986-2001. Geographical isolation and a poorly developed infrastructure are major impediments to long-term growth.
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 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 all of its supplies of oil, coal, and natural gas, largely 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 stable convertible currency, freed all prices, stopped issuing preferential credits to state enterprises, backed steady land privatization, removed export controls, and freed interest rates. Yet these efforts could not offset the impact of political and economic difficulties, both internal and regional. In 1998, the economic troubles of Russia, by far Moldova's leading trade partner, were a major cause of the 8.6% drop in GDP; the value of the currency in relation to the dollar fell by half. In 1999, GDP fell again, by 4.4%, the fifth drop in the past six years; exports were down, and energy supplies continued erratic. GDP is expected to remain at about the same level in 2000.
Monaco, situated on the French Mediterranean coast, is a popular resort, attracting tourists to its casino and pleasant climate. 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.
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, which was prolonged by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's (MPRP) reluctance to undertake serious economic reform. The Democratic Union Coalition (DUC) government has embraced free-market economics, easing price controls, liberalizing domestic and international trade, and attempting to restructure the banking system and the energy sector. Major domestic privatization programs have been undertaken, as well as fostering of foreign investment through international tender of the oil distribution company, a leading cashmere company, and banks. Reform has been 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. Public revenues and exports collapsed in 1998 and 1999 due to the repercussions of the Asian financial crisis. In August and September 1999, the economy suffered from a temporary Russian ban on exports of oil and oil products. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization (WTrO) in 1997. The international donor community pledged over $300 million per year at the last Consultative Group Meeting, held in Ulaanbaatar in June 1999.
Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, put a damper on this small, open economy throughout 1996-99. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the air and sea ports, 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. Construction was the dominant activity in 1997 and 1998. GDP declined again in 1998. Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcano and on public sector construction activity. The UK committed about $100 million in 1996-98 to help reconstruct the economy and has programmed additional aid for 1999-2001.
Morocco faces the problems typical of developing countries - restraining government spending, reducing constraints on private activity and foreign trade, and achieving sustainable economic growth. Since the early 1980s the government has pursued an economic program toward these objectives with the support of the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club of creditors. The dirham is now fully convertible for current account transactions; reforms of the financial sector have been implemented; and state enterprises are being privatized. Drought conditions depressed activity in the key agricultural sector, and contributed to an economic slowdown in 1999. Favorable rainfalls have led Morocco to predict a growth of 6% for 2000. Formidable long-term challenges include: servicing the external debt; preparing the economy for freer trade with the EU; and improving education and attracting foreign investment to improve living standards and job prospects for Morocco's youthful population.
Before the peace accord of October 1992, Mozambique's economy was devastated by a protracted civil war and socialist mismanagement. In 1994, it ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. Since then, Mozambique has undertaken a series of economic reforms. Almost all aspects of the economy have been liberalized to some extent. More than 900 state enterprises have been privatized. Pending are tax and much needed commercial code reform, as well as greater private sector involvement in the transportation, telecommunications, and energy sectors. Since 1996, inflation has been low and foreign exchange rates stable. Albeit from a small base, Mozambique's economy grew at an annual 10% rate in 1997-99, one of the highest growth rates in the world. Still, the country depends on foreign assistance to balance the budget and to pay for a trade imbalance in which imports outnumber exports by five to one or more. The medium-term outlook for the country looks bright, as trade and transportation links to South Africa and the rest of the region are expected to improve and sizable foreign investments materialize. Among these investments are metal production (aluminum, steel), natural gas, power generation, agriculture (cotton, sugar), fishing, timber, and transportation services. Additional exports in these areas should bring in needed foreign exchange. In addition, Mozambique is on track to receive a formal cancellation of a large portion of its external debt through a World Bank initiative.
Burma has a mixed economy with private activity dominant in agriculture, light industry, and transport, and with substantial state-controlled activity, mainly in energy, heavy industry, and the rice trade. Government policy in the last 11 years, 1989-99, has aimed at revitalizing the economy after three decades of tight central planning. Thus, private activity has markedly increased; foreign investment has been encouraged, so far with moderate success. State enterprises remain highly inefficient and privatization efforts have stalled. Published estimates of Burma's foreign trade are greatly understated because of the volume of black-market trade. A major ongoing problem is the failure to achieve monetary and fiscal stability. Burma remains a poor Asian country and living standards for the majority have not improved over the past decade. The short-term outlook is for continued sluggish growth because of poor government planning, internal unrest, minimal foreign investment, and the large trade deficit.
The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa and the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. Half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood. Namibia must import some of its food. Although per capita GDP is four times the per capita GDP of Africa's poorer countries, the majority of Namibia's people live in pronounced poverty because of large-scale unemployment, the great inequality of income distribution, and the large amount of wealth going to foreigners. The Namibian economy has close links to South Africa. GDP growth should improve in 2000-01, because of gains in the diamond and fish sectors. Agreement has been reached on the privatization of several more enterprises in coming years, which should stimulate long-run foreign investment.
Revenues of this tiny island come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are expected to be exhausted in the year 2000. Phosphates have given Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World, with estimates of GDP varying widely. Few other resources exist, thus most necessities must be imported, including fresh water from Australia. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. Substantial amounts of phosphate income are invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition. The government also has been borrowing heavily from the trusts to finance fiscal deficits. To cut costs the government has called for a freezing of 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. Tens of billions of dollars have been channeled through their accounts.
no economic activity
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with nearly half 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 41% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Production of textiles and carpets has expanded recently and accounted for about 80% of foreign exchange earnings in the past three years. Agricultural production is growing by about 5% on average as compared with annual population growth of 2.3%. Since May 1991, the government has been moving forward with economic reforms, particularly those that encourage trade and foreign investment, e.g., by reducing business licenses and registration requirements in order to simplify investment procedures. The government has also been cutting expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. More recently, however, political instability - five different governments over the past few years - has hampered Kathmandu's ability to forge consensus to implement key economic reforms. Nepal has considerable scope for accelerating economic growth by 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, 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.
The Netherlands is a prosperous and open economy in which the government has successfully reduced its role since the 1980s. 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 Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the US and France. The Netherlands successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners. This has helped cushion the economy from a slowdown in the euro area. Strong 3.8% GDP growth in 1998 was followed by an only slightly lower 3.4% expansion in 1999. The outlook remains favorable, with real GDP growth in 2000 projected at 3.25%, along with a small budget surplus. The Dutch were among the first 11 EU countries establishing the euro currency zone on 1 January 1999.
Tourism, petroleum transshipment, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. The islands enjoy a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure as compared with other countries in the region. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with Venezuela, the US, and Mexico being the major suppliers. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture.
New Caledonia has more than 20% of the world's known nickel resources. In recent years, the economy has suffered because of depressed international demand for nickel, the principal source of export earnings. Only a negligible amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, the substantial financial support from France and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. The situation in 1998 was clouded by the spillover of financial problems in East Asia and by lower prices for nickel. Nickel prices jumped in 1999, and large additions were made to capacity.
Since 1984 the government has accomplished major economic restructuring, moving an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access toward a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Inflation remains among the lowest in the industrial world. Per capita GDP has been moving up toward the levels of the big West European economies. New Zealand's heavy dependence on trade leaves its growth prospects vulnerable to economic performance in Asia, Europe, and the US. Moderate growth probably will characterize 2000.
Nicaragua is one of the hemisphere's poorest countries, with low per capita income, flagging socio-economic indicators, and huge external debt. The country has made significant progress toward macro-economic stabilization over the past few years - even with the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in the fall of 1998. International aid, debt relief, and continued foreign investment have contributed to the stabilization process. GDP grew 6.3% in 1999, while inflation remained about 12%, and unemployment dropped. Nicaragua may qualify for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, though aid is conditioned on improving governability, the openness of government financial operations, poverty alleviation, and human rights.
Niger is a poor, landlocked Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, reexport trade, and increasingly less on uranium, its major export since the 1970s. 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. Short-term prospects depend on upcoming negotiations with the World Bank and the IMF on debt relief and extended aid.
The oil-rich Nigerian economy, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, and poor macroeconomic management, is undergoing substantial economic reform 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 not kept up with rapid population growth, and Nigeria, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. In 2000, Nigeria is likely to receive a debt-restructuring deal with the Paris club and a $1 billion loan from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms. Increased foreign investment combined with high world oil prices should push growth to over 5% in 2000-01.
The economy is heavily dependent on aid and remittances from New Zealand. Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by grants from New Zealand which 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.
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. An agreement for the years 1986 to 1992 entitled the islands to $228 million for capital development, government operations, and special programs. Since 1992, funding has been extended one year at a time. The commonwealth received $27.7 million from FY93/94 through FY95/96. For FY96/97 through FY02/03, funding of $11 million will be provided for infrastructure, with an equal local match. A rapidly growing chief source of income is the tourist industry, which now employs about 50% of the work force. Japanese tourists predominate. The agricultural sector is of minor importance and is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons. Garment production is the fastest growing industry with employment of 12,000 mostly Chinese workers and shipments of $1 billion to the US in 1998 under duty and quota exemptions.
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), and extensively subsidizes agriculture, fishing, and areas with sparse resources. The extensive welfare system helps propel public sector expenditures to more than 50% of GDP. A major shipping nation, with a high dependence on international trade, Norway is basically an exporter of raw materials and semiprocessed goods. 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. Only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Norway. Norway imports more than half its food needs. Oslo opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. Growth was a meager 0.8% in 1999 because of weak private consumption and anemic investment activity in the oil and other sectors. Growth should pick up in 2000, perhaps to 2.7%. Despite their high per capita income and generous welfare benefits, Norwegians worry about that time in the next two decades when the oil and gas begin to run out.
Oman's economic performance improved significantly in 1999 due largely to the mid-year upturn in oil prices. 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 in an effort to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTrO) and is likely to gain membership in 2000.
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 Australia, NZ, China, US, and Peru. The high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with the wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has slowed but not stopped new drillings.
Pakistan is a poor, heavily populated country, suffering from internal political disputes, lack of foreign investment, and a costly confrontation with neighboring India. Pakistan's economic outlook continues to be marred by its weak foreign exchange position, notably its continued reliance on international creditors for hard currency inflows. The MUSHARRAF government faces $32 billion in external debt and has nearly completed rescheduling with Paris Club members and other bilateral creditors. Foreign loans and grants provide approximately 25% of government revenue, but debt service obligations total nearly 50% of government expenditure. The IMF has remained silent on future disbursements from its $1.56 billion bailout package initiated in 1999, and other international financial institutions are gauging the current administration's resolve to implement necessary fiscal reforms. MUSHARRAF's ambitious economic agenda includes measures to widen the tax net, privatize public sector assets, and improve its balance of trade position. Pakistan has made privatization a cornerstone of economic revival, but may have difficulty attracting new investors until it receives positive endorsement from the World Bank. The Bank has withheld its approval pending resolution of the pricing dispute between the government and independent power producers.
The economy consists primarily of subsistence agriculture and fishing. The government is the major employer of the work force, relying heavily on financial assistance from the US. The population enjoys a per capita income of more than twice that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia. Long-run prospects for the tourist sector have been greatly bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific and the rising prosperity of leading East Asian countries.
no economic activity
Because of its key geographic location, Panama's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism. The hand-over of the canal and military installations by the US has given rise to new construction projects. The MOSCOSO administration inherited an economy that is much more structurally sound and liberalized than the one inherited by its predecessor. Even though export demand is likely to remain slack in some key markets - especially the Andean countries - GDP growth in 2000 probably will be 3% to 4%. Key reform initiatives from the previous administration - including the privatization of public utilities - remain uncompleted. Although President MOSCOSO is unlikely to overturn any previous reforms, her populist leanings make it unlikely any new initiatives will be undertaken in the near future. Indeed, the government has failed to formulate a comprehensive economic policy framework, and the only concrete step it has taken by yearend 1999 has been a hike in agricultural tariffs.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by the rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for the bulk of the population. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for 72% of export earnings. Budgetary support from Australia and development aid under World Bank auspices have helped sustain the economy. In 1995, Port Moresby reached agreement with the IMF and World Bank on a structural adjustment program, of which the first phase was successfully completed in 1996. In 1997, droughts caused by the El Nino weather pattern wreaked havoc on Papua New Guinea's coffee, cocoa, and coconut production, the mainstays of the agricultural-based economy and major sources of export earnings. The coffee crop was slashed by up to 50% in 1997. Despite problems with drought, the year 1998 saw a small recovery in GDP. Growth increased to 3.6% in 1999 and may be even higher in 2000, say 4.3%.
China announced plans in 1997 to open the islands for tourism.
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 derive 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 and 1999. 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, and deficient infrastructure. Growth should recover in 2000, perhaps to 2%.
The Peruvian economy has become increasingly market-oriented, with major privatizations completed since 1990 in the mining, electricity, and telecommunications industries. Thanks to strong foreign investment and the cooperation between the FUJIMORI government and the IMF and World Bank, growth was strong in 1994-97 and inflation was brought under control. In 1998, El Nino's impact on agriculture, the financial crisis in Asia, and instability in Brazilian markets undercut growth. And 1999 was another lean year for Peru, with the aftermath of El Nino and the Asian financial crisis working its way through the economy. Lima did manage to complete negotiations for an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF in June 1999, although it subsequently had to renegotiate the targets. Pressure on spending is growing in the run-up to the 2000 elections. Nevertheless, improved commodity prices and the recovery of the fishing sector should help drive GDP growth above the 5% mark in 2000.
In 1998 the Philippine economy - a mixture of agriculture, light industry, and supporting services - deteriorated as a result of spillover from the Asian financial crisis and poor weather conditions. Growth fell to about -0.5% in 1998 from 5% in 1997, but recovered to 2.9% in 1999. The government has promised to continue its economic reforms to help the Philippines match the pace of development in the newly industrialized countries of East Asia. The strategy includes improving infrastructure, overhauling the tax system to bolster government revenues, and moving toward further deregulation and privatization of the economy.
The inhabitants of this tiny 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 today stands out as one of the most successful and open transition economies. The privatization of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms marked the rapid development of a private sector now responsible for 70% of economic activity. In contrast to the vibrant expansion of private non-farm activity, the large agriculture component remains handicapped by structural problems, surplus labor, inefficient small farms, and lack of investment. The government's determination to enter the EU as soon as possible affects most aspects of its economic policies. Improving Poland's worsening current account deficit and tightening monetary policy, now focused on inflation targeting, also are priorities. Warsaw continues to hold the budget deficit to around 2% of GDP. Structural reforms advanced in pensions, health care, and public administration in 1999, but resulted in larger than anticipated fiscal pressures. Further progress on public finance depends mainly on privatization of Poland's remaining state sector. Restructuring and privatization of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal and steel) has begun, but work remains to be done. Growth in 2000 should be moderately above 1999.
Portugal is an upcoming capitalist economy with a per capita GDP two-thirds that of the four big West European economies. In 1999, it continued to enjoy sturdy economic growth, falling interest rates, and low unemployment. The country qualified for the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998 and joined with 10 other European countries in launching the euro on 1 January 1999. Portugal's inflation rate for 1999, 2.4%, was comfortably low. The country continues to run a trade deficit and a balance of payments deficit. The government is working to modernize capital plant and increase the country's competitiveness in the increasingly integrated world markets. Growth is expected to remain stable in 2000 as the economic integration of Europe proceeds. Improvement in the education sector is critical to the catch-up process.
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has 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 for the island, with estimated arrivals of nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Prospects for 2000 are good, assuming continued strength in the tourism and construction sectors and continuation of the US boom.
Oil accounts for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 66% of government revenues. Proved oil reserves of 3.7 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP three-fourths that of the leading West European industrial countries. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of off-shore petroleum and the diversification of the economy. If high oil prices continue in 2000, Qatar will post its highest ever trade surplus - of more than $4 billion.
The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture. 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 more than 40% 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.
After the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989-91, Romania was left with an obsolete industrial base and a pattern of industrial capacity wholly unsuited to its needs. In February 1997, Romania embarked on a comprehensive macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform program, but reform subsequently has been a frustrating stop-and-go process. Restructuring programs include liquidating large energy-intensive industries and major agricultural and financial sector reforms. In 1999 Romania's economy contracted for a third straight year - by an estimated 4.8%. Romania reached an agreement with the IMF in August for a $547 million loan, but release of the second tranche was postponed in October because of unresolved private sector lending requirements and differences over budgetary spending. Bucharest avoided defaulting on mid-year lump-sum debt payments, but had to significantly draw down reserves to do so; reserves rebounded to an estimated $1.5 billion by yearend 1999. The government's priorities include: obtaining renewed IMF lending, tightening fiscal policy, accelerating privatization, and restructuring unprofitable firms. Romania was invited by the EU in December 1999 to begin accession negotiations.
Nine years after the collapse of the USSR, Russia is still struggling to establish a modern market economy and achieve strong economic growth. Russian GDP has contracted an estimated 45% since 1991, despite the country's wealth of natural resources, its well-educated population, and its diverse - although increasingly dilapidated - industrial base. By the end of 1997, Russia had achieved some progress. Inflation had been brought under control, the ruble was stabilized, and an ambitious privatization program had transferred thousands of enterprises to private ownership. Some important market-oriented laws had also been passed, including a commercial code governing business relations and the establishment of an arbitration court for resolving economic disputes. But in 1998, the Asian financial crisis swept through the country, contributing to a sharp decline in Russia's earnings from oil exports and resulting in an exodus of foreign investors. Matters came to a head in August 1998 when the government allowed the ruble to fall precipitously and stopped payment on $40 billion in ruble bonds. In 1999, output increased for only the second time since 1991, by an officially estimated 3.2%, regaining much of the 4.6% drop of 1998. This increase was achieved despite a year of potential turmoil that included the tenure of three premiers and culminated in the New Year's Eve resignation of President YELTSIN. Of great help was the tripling of international oil prices in the second half of 1999, raising the export surplus to $29 billion. On the negative side, inflation rose to an average 86% in 1999, compared with a 28% average in 1998 and a hoped-for 30% average in 2000. Ordinary persons found their wages falling by roughly 30% and their pensions by 45%. The PUTIN government has given high priority to supplementing low incomes by paying down wage and pension arrears. Many investors, both domestic and international remain on the sidelines, scared off by Russia's long-standing problems with capital flight, reliance on barter transactions, widespread corruption among officials, and endemic organized crime.
Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa; is landlocked; and has few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports 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 significant progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy. GDP has rebounded, and inflation has been curbed. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) with the IMF. Rwanda has also embarked upon an ambitious privatization program with the World Bank. Continued growth in 2000 depends on the maintenance of international aid levels and the strengthening of world prices of coffee and tea.
The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $5 million in 1998. The local population earns income from fishing, the raising of livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, a large proportion of the work force has left to seek employment overseas.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The economy has traditionally depended on the growing and processing of sugarcane; decreasing world prices have hurt the industry in recent years. Tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore banking activity have assumed larger roles. Most food is imported. The government has undertaken a program designed to revitalize the faltering sugar sector. It is also working to improve revenue collection in order to better fund social programs. In 1997 some leaders in Nevis were urging separation from Saint Kitts on the basis that Nevis was paying far more in taxes than it was receiving in government services, but the vote on cessation failed in August 1998. In late September 1998, Hurricane Georges caused approximately $445 million in damages and limited GDP growth for the year.
The recent changes in the EU import preference regime and the increased competition from Latin American bananas have made economic diversification increasingly important in Saint Lucia. Improvement in the construction sector and growth of the tourism industry helped expand GDP in 1998-99. The agriculture sector registered its fifth year of decline in 1997 primarily because of a severe decline in banana production. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean, and the government is beginning to develop regulations for the small offshore financial sector.
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.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Agriculture, dominated by banana production, is the most important sector of this lower-middle-income economy. The services sector, based mostly on a growing tourist industry, is also important. The government has been relatively unsuccessful at introducing new industries, and a high unemployment rate of 22% continues. The continuing dependence on a single crop represents the biggest obstacle to the islands' development; tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops in both 1994 and 1995. The tourism sector has considerable potential for development over the next decade. Recent growth has been stimulated by strong activity in the construction sector and an improvement in tourism. There is a small manufacturing sector and a small offshore financial sector whose particularly restrictive secrecy laws have caused some international concern.
The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, private family remittances from overseas, and agricultural exports. 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. Outside of a large automotive wire harness factory, the manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. Tourism is an expanding sector; more than 70,000 tourists visited the islands in 1996. The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline. Observers point to the flexibility of the labor market as a basic strength for future economic advances.
The tourist sector contributes over 50% of GDP. In 1997 more than 3.3 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 Italy, which supplies much of its food.
Sao Tome and Principe
This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence 25 years ago. However, cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a significant amount of food. Over the years, it has been unable to service its external debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies, but economic growth has remained sluggish. Sao Tome is also optimistic that significant petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Corruption scandals continue to weaken the economy.
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 (26% of the proved total), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 40% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 35% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Saudi Arabia was a key player in the successful efforts of OPEC and other oil producing countries to raise the price of oil in 1999 to its highest level since the Gulf War by reducing production. Although oil prices are expected to remain relatively high in 2000, Riyadh expects to have a $7.5 billion budget deficit in part because of increased spending for education and other social problems. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.
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 is 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 in 1995-99. Annual inflation has been pushed down to 2%, and the fiscal deficit has been cut to less than 1.5% of GDP. Investment rose steadily from 13.8% of GDP in 1993 to 16.5% in 1997. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), 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, juvenile delinquency, and drug addiction. Real GDP growth is expected to rise above 6%, while inflation is likely to hold at 2% in 2000-2001.
Serbia and Montenegro
The swift collapse of the Yugoslav federation in 1991 has been followed by highly destructive warfare, the destabilization of republic boundaries, and the breakup of important interrepublic trade flows. Output in Serbia and Montenegro dropped by half in 1992-93. Like the other former Yugoslav republics, it had depended on its sister republics for large amounts of energy and manufactures. Wide differences in climate, mineral resources, and levels of technology among the republics accentuated this interdependence, as did the communist practice of concentrating much industrial output in a small number of giant plants. The breakup of many of the trade links, the sharp drop in output as industrial plants lost suppliers and markets, and the destruction of physical assets in the fighting all have contributed to the economic difficulties of the republics. One singular factor in the economic situation of Serbia is the continuation in office of a government that is primarily interested in political and military mastery, not economic reform. Hyperinflation ended with the establishment of a new currency unit in June 1993; prices were relatively stable from 1995 through 1997, but inflationary pressures resurged in 1998. Reliable statistics continue to be hard to come by, and the GDP estimate is extremely rough. The economic boom anticipated by the government after the suspension of UN sanctions in December 1995 has failed to materialize. Government mismanagement of the economy is largely to blame, but the damage to Serbia's infrastructure and industry by the NATO bombing during the war in Kosovo have added to problems. Also, sanctions continue to isolate Belgrade from international financial institutions; an investment ban and asset freeze imposed in 1998 and the oil embargo imposed during the NATO bombing remain in place.
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. The vulnerability of the tourist sector was illustrated by the sharp drop in 1991-92 due largely to the Gulf war. Although the industry has rebounded, the government recognizes the continuing need for upgrading the sector in the face of stiff international competition. Other issues facing the government are the curbing of the budget deficit and further privatization of public enterprises. Growth slowed in 1998-99, due to sluggish tourist and tuna sectors.
Sierra Leone has 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. 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. Bauxite and rutile mines have been shut down by civil strife. The major source of hard currency is found in the mining of diamonds, the large majority of which are smuggled out of the country. The resurgence of internal warfare in 1999 brought another substantial drop in GDP. The fate of the economy in 2000 depends on the mid-1999 peace accord holding and the rebels reopening territory under their control.
Singapore is blessed with a highly developed and successful free-market economy, a remarkably open and corruption-free business environment, stable prices, and the fifth highest per capita GDP in the world. Exports, particularly in electronics and chemicals, and services are the main drivers of the economy. The government promotes high levels of savings and investment through a mandatory savings scheme and spends heavily in education and technology. It also owns government-linked companies (GLCs) - particularly in manufacturing - that operate as commercial entities and account for 60% of GDP. As Singapore looks to a future increasingly marked by globalization, the country is positioning itself as the region's financial and high-tech hub.
Slovakia continues the difficult transition from a centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. It started 1999 faced with a sharp slowdown in GDP growth, large budget and current account deficits, fast-growing external debt, and persisting corruption, but made considerable progress toward achieving macroeconomic stabilization later in the year. Tough austerity measures implemented in May cut the overall fiscal deficit from 6% in 1998 to under 4% of GDP, and the current account deficit was halved to an estimated 5% of GDP. Slovakia was invited by the EU in December to begin accession negotiations early in 2000. Foreign investor interest, although rising, has not yet led to actual deals; several credit rating agencies have upgraded their outlook for the country. However, Slovakia's fiscal position remains weak; inflation and unemployment remain high; and the government is only now addressing the structural problems inherited from the MECIAR period, such as large inefficient enterprises, an insolvent banking sector and high inter-company debts, and declining tax and social support payments. Furthermore, the government faces considerable public discontent over the government's austerity package, persistent high unemployment - which reached an all-time high of 20% in December 1999 - rising consumer prices, reduced social benefits, and declining living standards. Real GDP is forecast to stagnate in 2000; inflationary pressures will remain strong due to further price liberalization; and little scope exists for further fiscal consolidation in the 2000 budget, which is based on rosier assumptions than nearly all private forecasts.
Slovenia continues to enjoy the highest GDP per capita of the transitioning economies of the region. The country is experiencing an increased, yet manageable, rate of inflation and anticipates increased GDP growth during the year 2000 as growth accelerates in the EU, Slovenia's leading export market. The country is on a sound economic footing. However, much work remains to be done in the areas of privatization and capital market reform. During 2000, privatizations are expected in the banking, telecommunications, and public utility sectors. Restrictions on foreign investment are slowly being dismantled, and foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to increase over the next two years.
The bulk of the population depend 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. Economic troubles in Southeast Asia led to a steep downturn in the timber industry, and economic output declined by about 10% in 1998. The government instituted public service pay cuts and other retrenchments. The economy partially recovered in 1999 on the strength of rising international gold prices and the first full year of the Gold Ridge mining operation. However, the closure of the country's major palm oil plantation in mid-year cast a shadow over future prospects.
One of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Somalia has few resources. Moreover, much of the economy has been devastated by the civil war. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. After livestock, bananas are the principal export; sugar, sorghum, corn, and fish are products for the domestic market. The small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, accounts for 10% of GDP; most facilities have been shut down because of the civil strife. Moreover, in 1999, ongoing civil disturbances in Mogadishu and outlying areas interfered with any substantial economic advance and with international aid arrangements.
South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of 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 cut into the 30% unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS. At the start of 2000, President MBEKI vowed to promote economic growth and foreign investment by relaxing restrictive labor laws, stepping up the pace of privatization, and cutting unneeded governmental spending. His policies face strong opposition from organized labor.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. There is a potential source of income from harvesting fin fish and krill. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK.
Fisheries in 1998-1999 (1 July to 30 June) landed 119,898 metric tons, of which 85% was krill and 14% Patagonian toothfish. International agreements were adopted in late 1999 to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which in the 1998-1999 season landed five to six times more Patagonian toothfish than the regulated fishery. In the 1998-1999 antarctic summer 10,013 tourists, most of them seaborne, visited the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, compared to 9,604 the previous year. Nearly 16,000 tourists are expected during the 1999-2000 season.
Spain's mixed capitalist economy supports a GDP that on a per capita basis is three-fourths that of the four leading West European economies. Its center-right government successfully worked to gain admission to the first group of countries launching the European single currency on 1 January 1999. The AZNAR administration has continued to advocate liberalization, privatization, and deregulation of the economy and has introduced some tax reforms to that end. Unemployment, nonetheless, remains the highest in the EU at 16%. The government, for political reasons, has made only limited progress in changing labor laws or reforming pension schemes, which are key to the sustainability of both Spain's internal economic advances and its competitiveness in a single currency area. Adjustment to the monetary and other economic policies of an integrated Europe - and reducing the unacceptably high level of unemployment - will pose difficult challenges to Spain in the next few years.
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, and there are no reliable estimates of potential reserves; commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.
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 industries now are food processing, textiles and apparel, food and beverages, telecommunications, and insurance and banking. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of exports (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments accounted for 63%. GDP grew at an annual average rate of 5.5% throughout the 1990s until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-98 with growth of 6.4% and 4.7% - but slowed to 3.7% in 1999. For the next round of reforms, the central bank of Sri Lanka recommends that Colombo expand market mechanisms in nonplantation agriculture, dismantle the government's monopoly on wheat imports, and promote more competition in the financial sector. A continuing cloud over the economy is the fighting between the Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, which has cost 50,000 lives in the past 15 years.
Sudan is buffeted by civil war, chronic political instability, adverse weather, weak world commodity prices, a drop in remittances from abroad, and counterproductive economic policies. The private sector's main areas of activity are agriculture and trading, with most private industrial investment predating 1980. Agriculture employs 80% of the work force. Industry mainly processes agricultural items. Sluggish economic performance over the past decade, attributable largely to declining annual rainfall, has kept per capita income at low levels. A large foreign debt and huge arrears continue to cause difficulties. In 1990 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took the unusual step of declaring Sudan noncooperative because of its nonpayment of arrears to the Fund. After Sudan backtracked on promised reforms in 1992-93, the IMF threatened to expel Sudan from the Fund. To avoid expulsion, Khartoum agreed to make token payments on its arrears to the Fund, liberalize exchange rates, and reduce subsidies, measures it has partially implemented. The government's continued prosecution of the civil war and its growing international isolation continued to inhibit growth in the nonagricultural sectors of the economy during 1999. The government has worked with foreign partners to develop the oil sector, and the country is producing approximately 150,000 barrels per day.
The economy is dominated by the bauxite industry, which accounts for more than 15% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. After assuming power in the fall of 1996, the WIJDENBOSCH government ended the structural adjustment program of the previous government, claiming it was unfair to the poorer elements of society. Tax revenues fell as old taxes lapsed and the government failed to implement new tax alternatives. By the end of 1997, the allocation of new Dutch development funds was frozen as Surinamese Government relations with the Netherlands deteriorated. Economic growth slowed in 1998, with decline in the mining, construction, and utility sectors. Rampant government expenditures, poor tax collection, a bloated civil service, and reduced foreign aid in 1999 contributed to the fiscal deficit, estimated at 11% of GDP. The government sought to cover this deficit through monetary expansion, which led to a dramatic increase in inflation and exchange rate depreciation. 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.
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 trapping of seal, polar bear, fox, and walrus.
In this small landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies more than 60% of the population. Manufacturing features a number of agroprocessing factories. Mining has declined in importance in recent years; high-grade iron ore deposits were depleted by 1978, and health concerns have cut world demand for asbestos. Exports of soft drink concentrate, sugar, and wood pulp are the main earners of hard currency. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives four-fifths of its imports and to which it sends three-fourths of its exports. Remittances from Swazi workers in South African mines supplement domestically earned income by as much as 20%. The government is trying to improve the atmosphere for foreign investment. Overgrazing, soil depletion, and drought persist as problems for the future.
Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole twentieth 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. In recent years, however, this extraordinarily favorable picture has been clouded by budgetary difficulties, inflation, high unemployment, and a gradual loss of competitiveness in international markets. Sweden has harmonized its economic policies with those of the EU, which it joined at the start of 1995. Sweden decided not to join the euro system at its outset in January 1999 but plans to hold a referendum in 2000 on whether to join. GDP growth is forecast for 4% in 2000, buttressed by solid consumer confidence.
Switzerland, a prosperous and stable modern market economy with a per capita GDP 20% above that of the big western European economies, experienced slower growth in 1999, because of weak foreign and domestic demand. Growth, however, is expected to rebound to over 2% in 2000. The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Although the Swiss are not pursuing EU membership in the near term, in 1999 Bern and Brussels signed agreements to further liberalize trade ties. These agreements still have to pass a Swiss referendum in spring 2000, however. Switzerland is still considered 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.
Syria's predominantly statist economy is on a shaky footing because of Damascus's failure to implement extensive economic reform. The dominant agricultural sector remains underdeveloped, with roughly 80% of agricultural land still dependent on rain-fed sources. Although Syria has sufficient water supplies in the aggregate at normal levels of precipitation, the great distance between major water supplies and population centers poses serious distribution problems. The water problem is exacerbated by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution. Private investment is critical to the modernization of the agricultural, energy, and export sectors. Oil production is leveling off, and the efforts of the nonoil sector to penetrate international markets have fallen short. Syria's inadequate infrastructure, outmoded technological base, and weak educational system make it vulnerable to future shocks and hamper competition with neighbors such as Jordan and Israel.
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. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8% during the past three decades. Exports have grown even faster and have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. Inflation and unemployment are low; the trade surplus is substantial; and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes 3% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved off-shore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become a major investor in China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The tightening of labor markets has led to an influx of foreign workers, both legal and illegal. 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 1998-99. Growth in 2000 should pick up a bit from 1999, backed by expansion in domestic consumption, exports, and private investment.
Tajikistan has the lowest per capita GDP among the 15 former Soviet republics. 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 Tajikistani economy has been gravely weakened by six years of civil conflict and by the loss of subsidies from Moscow and of markets for its products. Tajikistan thus depends on aid from Russia and Uzbekistan and on international humanitarian assistance for much of its basic subsistence needs. Even if the peace agreement of June 1997 is honored, the country faces major problems in integrating refugees and former combatants into the economy. The future of Tajikistan's economy and the potential for attracting foreign investment depend upon stability and continued progress in the peace process.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 90% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry is mainly limited to processing agricultural products and light consumer goods. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's deteriorated economic infrastructure. Growth in 1991-99 has featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals, led by gold. Natural gas exploration in the Rufiji Delta looks promising and production could start by 2002. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private sector growth and investment. Short-term economic progress also depends on curbing corruption.
After enjoying the world's highest growth rate from 1985 to 1995 - averaging almost 9% annually - increased speculative pressure on Thailand's currency in 1997 led to a crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the government to float the baht. Long pegged at 25 to the dollar, the baht reached its lowest point of 56 to the dollar in January 1998 and the economy contracted by nearly 10% that same year. Thailand entered a recovery stage in 1999; preliminary estimates are that the economy expanded by about 4% - most forecasters expect similar growth in 2000. Beginning in 1999 the baht stabilized and inflation and interest rates began coming down. The CHUAN government has cooperated closely with the IMF and adhered to its mandated recovery program, including passage of new bankruptcy and foreclosure laws. The regional recovery boosted exports, while fiscal stimulus buoyed domestic demand. While slow progress has been made in recapitalizing the financial sector, tough measures - such as implementing a privatization plan and forcing the private sector to restructure - remain undone.
This small sub-Saharan economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for 65% of the labor force. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton together generate about 30% of export earnings. Togo is self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs when harvests are normal, with occasional regional supply difficulties. In the industrial sector, phosphate mining is by far the most important activity, although it has suffered from the collapse of world phosphate prices and increased foreign competition. Togo serves as a regional commercial and trade center. 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 stalled. Political unrest, including private and public sector strikes throughout 1992 and 1993, jeopardized the reform program, shrunk the tax base, and disrupted vital economic activity. The 12 January 1994 devaluation of the currency by 50% provided an important impetus to renewed structural adjustment; these efforts were facilitated by the end of strife in 1994 and a return to overt political calm. Progress depends on following through on privatization, increased openness in government financial operations (to accommodate increased social service outlays), and possible downsizing of the military, on which the regime has depended to stay in place. Lack of aid, along with depressed cocoa prices, generated a 1% fall in GDP in 1998, with growth resuming in 1999. Assuming no deterioration of the political atmosphere, growth should rise to 5% a year in 2000-01.
Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. The people must rely on aid from New Zealand to maintain public services, 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.
The economy's base is agriculture, which contributes 30% to GDP. 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. The industrial sector accounts for only 10% of GDP. Tourism is the primary source of hard currency earnings. The country remains dependent on sizable external aid and remittances to offset its trade deficit. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses. Successful economic reforms were implemented in 1995, and foreign investment and trade are flourishing. Persistently high unemployment remains one of the chief challenges of the government. The petrochemical sector has spurred growth in other related sectors, reinforcing the government's commitment to economic diversification. Tourism is growing, especially in the pleasure boat sector.
no economic activity
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 averaged 5.0% in the 1990s, and inflation is slowing. Growth in tourism and increased trade have been key elements in this steady growth. Tunisia's association agreement with the European Union entered into force on 1 March 1998, the first such accord between the EU and Mediterranean countries to be activated. Under the agreement Tunisia will gradually remove barriers to trade with the EU over the next decade. Broader privatization, further liberalization of the investment code to increase foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the challenges for the future.
Turkey has a dynamic economy that is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with traditional village agriculture and crafts. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. Its most important industry - and largest exporter - is textiles and clothing, which is almost entirely in private hands. The economic situation in recent years has been marked by erratic economic growth and serious imbalances. After a sharp drop in 1994, real GNP averaged 6.5% annual growth in 1995-98; it then fell about 5% in 1999 as Turkey was adversely affected by Russia's economic crisis and two major earthquakes. The already-large public sector fiscal deficit widened in 1999 to perhaps 14% of GDP - due in large part to the huge burden of interest payments which accounted for 42% of central grovernment spending. Despite the implementation in January 1996 of a customs union with the EU, foreign direct investment in the country remains low - less than $1 billion annually - perhaps because potential investors are concerned about economic and political stability. Prospects for the future are brighter - including prospects for foreign investment - because the ECEVIT government is implementing a major economic reform program, including a tighter budget, social security reform, banking reorganization, and greatly accelerated privatization.
Turkmenistan is largely desert country with nomadic cattle raising, intensive agriculture in irrigated oases, and huge gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton, making it the world's tenth largest producer. It also possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. Until the end of 1993, Turkmenistan had experienced less economic disruption than other former Soviet states because its economy received a boost from higher prices for oil and gas and a sharp increase in hard currency earnings. In 1994, Russia's refusal to export Turkmen gas to hard currency markets and mounting debts of its major customers in the former USSR for gas deliveries contributed to a sharp fall in industrial production and caused the budget to shift from a surplus to a slight deficit. 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. Turkmenistan is working hard to open new gas export channels through Iran and Turkey to Europe, but these will take many years to realize. In 1998-99, Turkmenistan faced revenue shortfalls due to the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and obligations on extensive short-term external debt. Prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty and the burden of foreign debt. IMF assistance would seem to be necessary, yet the government is not as yet ready to accept IMF requirements. Turkmenistan's 1999 deal to ship 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas through Russia's Gazprom will help alleviate the 2000 fiscal shortfall, but will not make up for the absence of meaningful progress in economic reform.
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 was the leading source of tourists in 1996, accounting for more than half of the 87,000 visitors; tourist arrivals had risen to 93,000 by 1998. Major sources of government revenue include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts.
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. 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, with 1999 payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries at about $9 million, a total which is expected to rise annually. 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 from the sale of its ".tv" Internet domain name. Royalites from these new technology sources could raise GDP three or more times over the next decade. Low-lying Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to any rise in the sea level from future global warming.
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 is the major export crop and 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. In 1990-99, 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. Ongoing Ugandan involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, growing corruption within the government, and slippage in the government's determination to press reforms raise doubts about the continuation of strong growth.
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 equipment and raw materials to industrial and mining sites in other regions of the former USSR. Ukraine depends on imports of energy, especially natural gas. Shortly after the implosion of the USSR 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 in 1992-99 fell to less than 40% the 1991 level. Loose monetary policies pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels in late 1993. Since his election in July 1994, President KUCHMA has pushed economic reforms, maintained financial discipline, and tried to remove almost all remaining controls over prices and foreign trade. The onset of the financial crisis in Russia dashed Ukraine's hopes for its first year of economic growth in 1998 due to a sharp fall in export revenue and reduced domestic demand. Output continued to drop, slightly, in 1999. The government has also not been able to significantly decrease its huge backlog of wage and pension arrears. Despite increasing pressure from the IMF to accelerate reform, substantial economic restructuring remains unlikely in 2000, largely because of resistance in the communist-dominated legislature to further privatization.
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 over 100 years. Despite higher oil revenues in 1999, the government has not drawn back from the economic reforms implemented during the 1998 oil price depression. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up its utilities to greater private-sector involvement.
The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, deploys an essentially capitalistic economy, 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. Economic growth has been slowed in 1999; recovery to 3% is in prospect for 2000, based on a rise in exports and domestic demand. The BLAIR government has put off the question of participation in the euro system until after the next election, not expected until 2001; Chancellor of the Exchequer BROWN has identified some key economic tests to determine whether the UK should join the common currency system.
The US has the most technologically powerful, diverse, advanced, and largest economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $33,900. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and government buys 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, lay off surplus workers, and 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, although 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 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 1994-99 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. The outlook for 2000 is clouded by the continued economic problems of Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, and many other countries. Domestically, the potentially most serious problem is the exuberant level of stock prices in relation to corporate earnings.
Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce, relatively even income distribution, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually in 1996-98, in 1999 the economy suffered from lower demand in Argentina and Brazil, which together account for about half of Uruguay's exports. Despite the severity of the trade shocks and ensuing recession, Uruguay's financial indicators remained more stable than those of its neighbors, a reflection of its solid reputation among investors and its investment-grade sovereign bond rating - one of only two in Latin America. Challenges for the government of incoming President Jorge BATLLE include expanding Uruguay's trade ties beyond its Mercosur trade partners and bolstering Uruguay's competitiveness by increasing labor market flexibility and reducing the costs of public services. Growth should recover in 2000, to perhaps 3%.
Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 10% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. It was one of the poorest areas of the former Soviet Union with more than 60% of its population living in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's third largest cotton exporter, a major producer of gold and natural gas, 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. Faced with high rates of inflation, however, the government began to reform in mid-1994, by introducing tighter monetary policies, expanding privatization, slightly reducing the role of the state in the economy, and improving the environment for foreign investors. The state continues to be a dominating influence in the economy, and reforms have so far failed to bring about much-needed structural changes. The IMF suspended Uzbekistan's $185 million standby arrangement in late 1996 because of governmental steps that made impossible fulfillment of Fund conditions. Uzbekistan has responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. Economic policies that have repelled foreign investment are a major factor in the economy's stagnation. A growing debt burden, persistent inflation, and a poor business climate cloud growth prospects in 2000.
The economy is based primarily on subsistence or 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. The most recent natural disaster, a severe earthquake in November 1999 followed by a tsunami, caused extensive damage to the northern island of Pentecote and left thousands homeless.
Venezuelan officials estimate the economy contracted 7.2% in 1999. A steep downturn in international oil prices during the first half of the year fueled the recession, and spurred the CHAVEZ administration to abide by OPEC-led production cuts in an effort to raise world oil prices. The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Higher oil prices during the second half 1999 took pressure off the budget and currency; the bolivar is widely believed to be overvalued by as much as 50%. Despite higher oil prices, the economy remains in the doldrums, possibly due to investor uncertainty over President CHAVEZ's reform agenda. Implementing legislation for the new constitution will not be passed until the second half of 2000, after a new legislature is elected. With the president's economic cabinet attempting to reconcile a wide range of views, the country's economic reform program has largely stalled. The government is seeking international assistance to finance reconstruction after massive flooding and landslides in December 1999 caused an estimated $15 billion to $20 billion in damage.
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 existing in the Vietnamese economy but, rather than prompting reform, reaffirmed the government's belief that shifting to a market oriented economy leads to disaster. GDP growth of 8.5% in 1997 fell to 4% in 1998 and rose slightly to an estimated 4.8% in 1999. These numbers masked some major difficulties that are emerging 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. Foreign direct investment has fallen dramatically, from $8.3 billion in 1996 to about $1.6 billion in 1999. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities have slowed implementation of the structural reforms needed to revitalize the economy and produce more competitive, export-driven industries. Privatization of state enterprises remains bogged down in political controversy, while the country's dynamic private sector is denied both financing and access to markets. Reform of the banking sector - considered one of the riskiest in the world - is proceeding slowly, raising concerns that the country will be unable to tap sufficient domestic savings to finance growth. Administrative and legal barriers are also causing costly delays for foreign investors and are raising similar doubts about Vietnam's ability to attract additional foreign capital.
Tourism is the primary economic activity, accounting for more than 70% of GDP and 70% of employment. The islands normally host 2 million visitors a year. The manufacturing sector consists of petroleum refining, textile, electronics, pharmaceutical, and watch assembly plants. 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.
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% of the labor force earning its livelihood 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.
Economic conditions in the West Bank - where economic activity is governed by the Paris Economic Protocol of April 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority - have deteriorated since the early 1990s. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36.1% between 1992 and 1996 owing to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and robust population growth. The downturn in economic activity 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. The most serious negative social effect of this downturn has been the emergence of chronic unemployment; average unemployment rates in the WBGS during the 1980s were generally under 5%; by the mid-1990s this level had risen to over 20%. Since 1997 Israel's use of comprehensive closures has 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. In October 1999, Israel permitted the opening of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the 1995 Interim Agreement. These changes in the conduct of economic activity have fueled a moderate economic recovery in 1998-99.
Western Sahara, a territory poor in natural resources and lacking sufficient rainfall, depends on pastoral nomadism, fishing, and phosphate mining as the principal sources of income for the population. Most of the food for the urban population must be imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan Government. Incomes and standards of living are substantially below the Moroccan level.
Growth in global output (gross world product, GWP) rose to 3% in 1999 from 2% in 1998 despite continued recession in Japan, severe financial difficulties in other East Asian countries, and widespread dislocations in several transition economies, notably Russia. The US economy continued its remarkable sustained prosperity, growing at 4.1% in 1999, and accounted for 23% of GWP. Western Europe's economies grew at roughly 2%, not enough to cut deeply into the region's high unemployment; the EU economies produced 20% of GWP. China, the second largest economy in the world, continued its strong growth and accounted for 12% of GWP. Japan grew at only 0.3% in 1999; its share in GWP is 7%. As usual, the 15 successor nations of the USSR and the other old Warsaw Pact nations experienced widely different rates of growth. The developing nations varied widely in their growth results, with many countries facing population increases that eat up 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, and in Canada. 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. Continued fi
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported strong growth in the mid-1990s with the onset of oil production, but was harmed by low oil prices in 1998. Yemen has embarked on an IMF-supported structural adjustment program designed to modernize and streamline the economy, which has led to foreign debt relief and restructuring. Aided by higher oil prices in 1999, Yemen worked to maintain tight control over spending and implement additional components of the IMF program. The high population growth rate of 3.4% and internal political dissension complicate the government's task.
Despite progress in privatization and budgetary reform, Zambia's economy has a long way to go. The recent privatization of the huge government-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) should greatly improve Zambia's prospects for international debt relief, as the government will no longer have to cover the mammoth losses generated by that sector. Inflation and unemployment rates remain high, however.
The government of Zimbabwe faces a wide variety of difficult economic problems as it struggles to consolidate earlier progress in developing a market-oriented economy. Its involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, has already drained hundreds of millions of dollars from the economy. Badly needed support from the IMF suffers delays in part because of the country's failure to meet budgetary goals. Inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998 to 59% in 1999. The economy is being steadily weakened by AIDS; Zimbabwe has the highest rate of infection in the world. Per capita GDP, which is twice the average of the poorer sub-Saharan nations, will increase little if any in the near-term, and Zimbabwe will suffer continued frustrations in developing its agricultural and mineral resources.
Copyright © 2001 International Opportunities.
All Rights Reserved.
Site Version 1.75 -
Last updated Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 9:44AM PST
on host Saturn