Economy of Sao Tome

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Economy - overview: 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. Sao Tome benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. 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. At the same time, progress in the economic reform program has attracted international financial institutions' support, and GDP growth will likely rise to at least 4% in 2001-02.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $178 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,100 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23%
industry: 19%
services: 58% (1997 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing
note: shortages of skilled workers
Unemployment rate: 50% in the formal business sector (1998 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $58 million
expenditures: $114 million, including capital expenditures of $54 million (1993 est.)
Industries: light construction, textiles, soap, beer; fish processing; timber
Electricity - production: 17 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel:  41.18%
hydro:  58.82%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 15.8 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish
Exports: $3.2 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: cocoa 90%, copra, coffee, palm oil
Exports - partners: Netherlands 18%, Germany 9%, Portugal 9% (1998)
Imports: $40 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products
Imports - partners: Portugal 42%, US 20%, South Africa 6% (1998)
Debt - external: $268 million (2000)
Economic aid - recipient: $200 million in December 2000 under the HIPC program
Currency: 1 dobra (STD) = 100 centimos

SOURCE: The World Factbook

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Sao Tome > Map Economy