Eswatini Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

A small, landlocked kingdom, Eswatini is bordered in the north, west and south by the Republic of South Africa and by Mozambique in the east. Eswatini depends on South Africa for a majority of its exports and imports. Eswatini's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Eswatini's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) for almost half of its revenue. Eswatini is a lower middle income country. As of 2017, more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Eswatini has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate, a financial strain and source of economic instability.

The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and soft drink concentrate are the largest foreign exchange earners, although a drought in 2015-16 decreased sugar production and exports. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. Mining has declined in importance in recent years. Coal, gold, diamond, and quarry stone mines are small scale, and the only iron ore mine closed in 2014. With an estimated 28% unemployment rate, Eswatini's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute.

Eswatini's national development strategy, which expires in 2022, prioritizes increases in infrastructure, agriculture production, and economic diversification, while aiming to reduce poverty and government spending. Eswatini's revenue from SACU receipts are likely to continue to decline as South Africa pushes for a new distribution scheme, making it harder for the government to maintain fiscal balance without introducing new sources of revenue.

Real GDP growth rate

1.6% (2017 est.)

1.4% (2016 est.)

0.4% (2015 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

6.2% (2017 est.)

7.8% (2016 est.)

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B3 (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$9.898 billion (2019 est.)

$9.681 billion (2018 est.)

$9.457 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.484 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$8,622 (2019 est.)

$8,521 (2018 est.)

$8,408 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Gross national saving

16.2% of GDP (2019 est.)

16.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

16.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 6.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 45% (2017 est.)

services: 48.6% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 64% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 21.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 13.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 47.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -46.3% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 59.5 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 77.2 (2020)

Trading score: 92.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 36.7 (2020)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, maize, roots/tubers nes, grapefruit, oranges, milk, beef, potatoes, vegetables, bananas


soft drink concentrates, coal, forestry, sugar processing, textiles, and apparel

Industrial production growth rate

5.6% (2017 est.)

Labor force

427,900 (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10.7%

industry: 30.4%

services: 58.9% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate

28% (2014 est.)

28% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line

58.9% (2016 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

54.6 (2016 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)


revenues: 1.263 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 1.639 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

28.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-8.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

28.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

25.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

$604 million (2017 est.)

$642 million (2016 est.)


$2.389 billion (2018 est.)

$2.154 billion (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

South Africa 94% (2017)

Exports - commodities

soft drink concentrates, sugar, timber, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus, and canned fruit


$2.605 billion (2018 est.)

$2.853 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

South Africa 81.6%, China 5.2% (2017)

Imports - commodities

motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$563.1 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$564.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$535 million (2019 est.)

$456 million (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

emalangeni per US dollar -

14.44 (2017 est.)

14.6924 (2016 est.)

14.6924 (2015 est.)

12.7581 (2014 est.)

10.8469 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Eswatini on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Eswatini 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Eswatini 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.