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Sao Tome and Principe Economy 1996

    • Overview:
      This small poor island economy has remained dependent on cocoa since independence 20 years ago. Since then, however, cocoa production has gradually declined because of drought and mismanagement, so that by 1987 annual output had fallen from 10,000 tons to 3,900 tons. As a result, a shortage of cocoa for export has created a serious balance-of-payments problem. Production of less important crops, such as coffee, copra, and palm kernels, has also declined. The value of imports generally exceeds that of exports by a ratio of 4:1 or more. The emphasis on cocoa production at the expense of other food crops has meant that Sao Tome has to import 90% of food needs. It also has to import all fuels and most manufactured goods. Over the years, Sao Tome 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 and to encourage market-based mechanisms, e. g., to facilitate the distribution of imported food. Annual GDP growth is estimated in the 3%-4% range for 1994-96.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $133 million (1993 est.)

    • National product real growth rate:

    • National product per capita:
      $1,000 (1993 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      27% (1992 est.)

    • Unemployment rate:

    • Budget:

        $10.2 million

        $36.8 million, including capital expenditures of $22.5 million (1989 est.)

    • Exports:
      $5.5 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)

        cocoa 78%, copra, coffee, palm oil (1992)

        Netherlands, Germany, China, Portugal

    • Imports:
      $31.5 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)

        machinery and electrical equipment 44%, food products 18%, petroleum 11% (1992)

        Portugal, Japan, Spain, France, Angola

    • External debt:
      $237 million (1993)

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate 1% (1991); accounts for 7% of GDP

    • Electricity:

        5,000 kW

        17 million kWh

        consumption per capita:
        105 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      light construction, shirts, soap, beer, fisheries, shrimp processing

    • Agriculture:
      accounts for 25% of GDP; dominant sector of economy, primary source of exports; cash crops - cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, coffee; food products - bananas, papaya, beans, poultry, fish; not self-sufficient in food grain and meat

    • Economic aid:

        US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $8 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $89 million

    • Currency:
      1 dobra (Db) = 100 centimos

    • Exchange rates:
      dobras (Db) per US$1 - 129.59 (1 July 1993), 230 (1992), 260.0 (November 1991), 122.48 (December 1988), 72.827 (1987)

    • Fiscal year:
      calendar year

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