Liberia Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the diaspora. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. The government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially infrastructure in and around the capital. Much of the conflict was fueled by control over Liberia’s natural resources. With the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically elected government in 2006, businesses that had fled the country began to return. The country achieved high growth during the period 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, the economy declined and many foreign-owned businesses departed with their capital and expertise. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic coincided with decreased economic activity reducing government revenue, although higher donor support significantly offset this loss. During the same period, global commodities prices for key exports fell and have yet to recover to pre-Ebola levels.

In 2017, gold was a key driver of growth, as a new mining project began its first full year of production; iron ore exports are also increased as Arcelor Mittal opened new mines at Mount Gangra. The completion of the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Dam increased electricity production to support ongoing and future economic activity, although electricity tariffs remain high relative to other countries in the region and transmission infrastructure is limited. Presidential and legislative elections in October 2017 generated election-related spending pressures.

Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security.

Real GDP growth rate

2.5% (2017 est.)

-1.6% (2016 est.)

0% (2015 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

12.4% (2017 est.)

8.8% (2016 est.)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$7.049 billion (2019 est.)

$7.214 billion (2018 est.)

$7.126 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.071 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,428 (2019 est.)

$1,497 (2018 est.)

$1,516 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Gross national saving

-58.3% of GDP NA% (2018 est.)

-48.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

-21.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 34% (2017 est.)

industry: 13.8% (2017 est.)

services: 52.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 128.8% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 16.7% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.5% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 6.7% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 17.5% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -89.2% (2016 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 43.2 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 88.9 (2020)

Trading score: 19.2 (2020)

Enforcement score: 35.2 (2020)

Agricultural products

cassava, sugar cane, oil palm fruit, rice, bananas, vegetables, plantains, rubber, taro, maize


mining (iron ore and gold), rubber processing, palm oil processing, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate

9% (2017 est.)

Labor force

1.677 million (2017 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: 8%

services: 22% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

2.8% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

50.9% (2016 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

35.3 (2016 est.)

38.2 (2007)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.4%

highest 10%: 30.1% (2007)


revenues: 553.6 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 693.8 million (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

16.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

34.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

28.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$627 million (2017 est.)

-$464 million (2016 est.)


$330 million (2019 est.)

$362 million (2018 est.)

$359 million (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

Guyana 32%, Poland 10%, Switzerland 8%, Japan 7%, China 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

ships, iron, gold, rubber, crude petroleum (2019)


$1.82 billion (2019 est.)

$1.956 billion (2018 est.)

$2.118 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

China 41%, Japan 21%, South Korea 18% (2019)

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, iron structures, boat propellers, centrifuges (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$459.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$528.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$826 million (2019 est.)

$679 million (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

Liberian dollars (LRD) per US dollar -

109.4 (2017 est.)

93.4 (2016 est.)

93.4 (2015 est.)

85.3 (2014 est.)

83.893 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Liberia 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 Liberia 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Liberia 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.