|Country||ECONOMY - OVERVIEW|
Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world.|
The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $67 billion at nine donors' conferences between 2003 and 2010. In July 2012, the donors at the Tokyo conference pledged an additional $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015. Despite this help, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure.
Afghanistan's growth rate slowed markedly in 2014-15. The drawdown of international security forces that started in 2014 has negatively affected economic growth, as a substantial portion of commerce, especially in the services sector, has catered to the ongoing international troop presence in the country. Afghan President Ashraf GHANI Ahmadzai is dedicated to instituting economic reforms to include improving revenue collection and fighting corruption. However, the reforms will take time to implement and Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years.
Economic activity is limited to providing services to the military and their families located in Akrotiri. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.|
Albania, a formerly closed, centrally-planned state, is a developing country with a modern open-market economy. Albania managed to weather the first waves of the global financial crisis but, more recently, the negative effects of the crisis have caused a significant economic slowdown. Close trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy make Albania vulnerable to spillover effects of debt crises and weak growth in the euro zone.|
Remittances, a significant catalyst for economic growth, declined from 12-15% of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 5.7% of GDP in 2014, mostly from Albanians residing in Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for almost half of employment but only about one-fifth of GDP, is limited primarily to small family operations and subsistence farming, because of a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and the prevalence of small, inefficient plots of land. Complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, endemic corruption, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure contribute to Albania's poor business environment making attracting foreign investment difficult.
Albania’s electricity supply is uneven despite upgraded transmission capacities with neighboring countries. Technical and non-technical losses in electricity - including theft and non-payment - continue to undermine the financial viability of the entire system, although the government has taken steps to stem non-technical losses and has begun to upgrade the distribution grid. Also, with help from international donors, the government is taking steps to improve the poor national road and rail network, a long standing barrier to sustained economic growth.
Inward FDI has increased significantly in recent years as the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. The government is focused on the simplification of licensing requirements and tax codes, and it entered into a new arrangement with the IMF for additional financial and technical support. Albania’s IMF program may be at risk, however, because the government has not collected sufficient tax revenue needed to reduce the budget deficit. The country continues to face increasing public debt, exceeding its former statutory limit of 60% of GDP in 2013 and reaching 73% in 2015.
Algeria's economy remains dominated by the state, a legacy of the country's socialist postindependence development model. In recent years the Algerian Government has halted the privatization of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign involvement in its economy.|
Hydrocarbons have long been the backbone of the economy, accounting for roughly 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 95% of export earnings. Algeria has the 10th-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the sixth-largest gas exporter. It ranks 16th in oil reserves. Hydrocarbon exports have enabled Algeria to maintain macroeconomic stability and amass large foreign currency reserves and a large budget stabilization fund available for tapping. In addition, Algeria's external debt is extremely low at about 2% of GDP. However, Algeria has struggled to develop non-hydrocarbon industries because of heavy regulation and an emphasis on state-driven growth.
The government's efforts have done little to reduce high youth unemployment rates or to address housing shortages. A wave of economic protests in February and March 2011 prompted the Algerian Government to offer more than $23 billion in public grants and retroactive salary and benefit increases, moves which continue to weigh on public finances. Since late 2014, declining oil prices forced the government to spend down its reserves at a high rate in order to sustain social spending on salaries and subsidies, particularly since the government has been unable to boost exports of hydrocarbons or significantly grow its nonoil sector. In 2015, the Algerian Government imposed further restrictions on imports in an effort to reduce withdrawals from its foreign exchange reserves. The Government also increased the value-added tax on electricity and fuel, but said it would address subsidies at a later date.
Long-term economic challenges include diversifying the economy away from its reliance on hydrocarbon exports, bolstering the private sector, attracting foreign investment, and providing adequate jobs for younger Algerians.
American Samoa has 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 most of its commerce. Tuna fishing and tuna processing plants are the backbone of the private sector with canned tuna the primary export. The two tuna canneries accounted for 13.1% of employment in 2013.|
In late September 2009, an earthquake and the resulting tsunami devastated American Samoa and nearby Samoa, disrupting transportation and power generation, and resulting in about 200 deaths. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency oversaw a relief program of nearly $25 million. 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 is a promising developing sector. In 2015, a new fish processing company completed refurbishing the processing facilities left behind by one of the two canneries that closed in 2009 and opened a new cannery. With two operating canneries once again, fish processing and exports will rise in the coming years.
Tourism, retail sales, and finance are the mainstays of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounting for more than three-quarters of GDP. Andorra's duty-free status for some products and its summer and winter resorts attract millions of visitors annually, although the economic downturn in neighboring countries has curtailed the number of tourists. Agricultural production is limited - only about 5% of the land is arable - and most food has to be imported, making the economy vulnerable to changes in fuel and food prices. The principal livestock is sheep. Manufacturing output and exports consist mainly of perfumes and cosmetic products, products of the printing industry, electrical machinery and equipment, clothing, tobacco products, 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. Andorra uses the euro and is effectively subject to the monetary policy of the European Central Bank. Andorra's comparative advantage as a tax haven eroded when the borders of neighboring France and Spain opened; its bank secrecy laws have been relaxed under pressure from the EU and OECD.|
Slower growth in Spain and France has dimmed Andorra's economic prospects. Since 2010, a drop in tourism contributed to a contraction in GDP and a sharp deterioration of public finances, prompting the government to begin implementing several austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit, including levying a special corporate tax. The Government is also planning to institute an income tax at the behest of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The new tax will apply to anyone who lives in the principality for at least 183 days in a calendar year. The first $30,000 of income will be tax free, with the next $20,000 taxed at 5%. The balance of income exceeding the initial $50,000 will be taxed at 10%, which is still less than in most West European countries. Andorra’s Government also relaxed its residency and investment laws in 2012 to make the country more attractive to foreign investors. A person now must spend 90 days a year in the principality to qualify for residency, compared with the previous 180-day requirement. Foreigners now have the same property ownership rights as citizens. In addition, three new categories of residency permits were introduced. Anyone who is retired or at least not working in Andorra can obtain a permit in the first category by making a financial investment in the country of at least €400,000, which can include a property purchase.
Angola's economy is overwhelmingly driven by its oil sector. Oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50% of GDP, more than 70% of government revenue, and more than 90% of the country's exports. Diamonds contribute an additional 5% to exports. Subsistence agriculture provides the main livelihood for most of the people, but half of the country's food is still imported. Increased oil production supported growth averaging more than 17% per year from 2004 to 2008. A postwar reconstruction boom and resettlement of displaced persons has led to high rates of growth in construction and agriculture as well. Some of the country's infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped from the 27-year-long civil war. However, the government since 2005 has used billions of dollars in credit lines from China, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and the EU to help rebuild Angola's public infrastructure. Land mines left from the war still mar the countryside, and as a result, the national military, international partners, and private Angolan firms all continue to remove them. The global recession that started in 2008 stalled economic growth. In particular, lower prices for oil and diamonds during the global recession slowed GDP growth to 2.4% in 2009, and many construction projects stopped because Luanda accrued $9 billion in arrears to foreign construction companies when government revenue fell in 2008 and 2009. Angola formally abandoned its currency peg in 2009, and in November 2009 signed onto an IMF Stand-By Arrangement loan of $1.4 billion to rebuild international reserves. Consumer inflation declined from 325% in 2000 to less than 9% in 2014. Falling oil prices and slower than expected growth in non-oil GDP have reduced growth prospects for 2015. Angola has responded by reducing government subsidies and by proposing import quotas and a more restrictive licensing regime. Corruption, especially in the extractive sectors, is a major long-term challenge.|
Anguilla has few natural resources, and the economy depends heavily on luxury tourism, offshore banking, lobster fishing, and remittances from emigrants. Increased activity in the tourism industry has spurred the growth of the construction sector contributing to economic growth. Anguillan officials have put substantial effort into developing the offshore financial sector, which is small but growing. In the medium term, prospects for the economy will depend largely on the tourism sector and, therefore, on revived income growth in the industrialized nations as well as on favorable weather conditions.|
Scientific undertakings rather than commercial pursuits are the predominant human activity in Antarctica. Offshore fishing and tourism, both based abroad, account for Antarctica's limited economic activity.|
Antarctic fisheries, targeting three main species - Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides and D. mawsoni), mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari), and krill (Euphausia superba) – reported landing 295,000 metric tons in 2013-14 (estimated fishing is from the area covered by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which extends slightly beyond the Antarctic Treaty area). Unregulated fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass), is an ongoing problem. The CCAMLR determines the recommended catch limits for marine species.
A total of 36,702 tourists visited the Antarctic Treaty area in the 2014-15 Antarctic summer, slightly lower than the 37,405 visitors in 2013-14. These estimates were provided to the Antarctic Treaty by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and do not include passengers on overflights. Nearly all of them were passengers on commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that make trips during the summer.
|Antigua and Barbuda||
Tourism continues to dominate Antigua and Barbuda's economy, accounting for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment. The dual-island nation's agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labor shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction. Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components.|
After taking office in 2004, the SPENCER government adopted an ambitious fiscal reform program and was successful in reducing its public debt-to-GDP ratio from approximately 130% in 2010 to 89% in 2012. In 2009, the country's economy was severely hit by the global economic crisis and suffered from the collapse of its largest private sector employer, a steep decline in tourism, a rise in debt, and a sharp economic contraction between 2009 and 2011. The country has not yet returned to its pre-crisis growth levels.
Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on tourist arrivals from the US, Canada, and Europe and potential damages from natural disasters.
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. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight.|
A severe depression, growing public and external indebtedness, and an unprecedented bank run culminated in 2001 in the most serious economic, social, and political crisis in the country's turbulent history. Interim President Adolfo RODRIGUEZ SAA declared a default - at the time the largest ever - on the government's foreign debt in December of that year, and abruptly resigned only a few days after taking office. His successor, Eduardo DUHALDE, announced an end to the peso's decade-long 1-to-1 peg to the US dollar in early 2002. The economy bottomed out that year, with real GDP 18% smaller than in 1998 and almost 60% of Argentines below the poverty line. Real GDP rebounded to grow by an average 8.5% annually over the subsequent six years, taking advantage of previously idled industrial capacity and labor, an audacious debt restructuring and reduced debt burden, excellent international financial conditions, and expansionary monetary and fiscal policies. Inflation also increased, however, during the administration of President Nestor KIRCHNER, which responded with price restraints on businesses, as well as export taxes and restraints, and beginning in 2007, with understating inflation data.
Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER succeeded her husband as president in late 2007, and the rapid economic growth of previous years began to slow sharply the following year as government policies held back exports and the world economy fell into recession. The economy in 2010 rebounded strongly from the 2009 recession, but has slowed since late 2011 even as the government continued to rely on expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, which have kept inflation in the double digits.
The government has taken multiple steps in recent years to deal with these problems. It expanded state intervention in the economy throughout 2012. In May 2012 the Congress approved the nationalization of the oil company YPF from Spain's Repsol. The government expanded formal and informal measures to restrict imports during the year, including a requirement for pre-registration and pre-approval of all imports. In July 2012, the government also further tightened currency controls in an effort to bolster foreign reserves and stem capital flight. In October 2013, the government settled long standing international arbitral disputes dating to before and following the 2001 Argentine financial crisis. During 2014, the government continued its expansionary fiscal and monetary policies and foreign exchange and imports controls. Between 2011 and 2013, Central Bank foreign reserves had dropped $21.3 billion from a high of $52.7 billion. In July 2014, Argentina and China agreed on an $11 billion currency swap; the Argentine Central Bank has received the equivalent of $3.2 billion in Chinese yuan, which it counts as international reserves.
In 2014, the government also took some measures to mend ties with the international financial community, including engaging with the IMF to improve its economic data reporting, reaching a compensation agreement with Repsol for the expropriation of YPF, and agreeing to pay $9.7 billion in arrears to the Paris Club over five years, including $606 million owed to the US. In July 2014, Argentina made its first payment to Paris Club creditors. At the same time, the Argentine Government in July 2014 entered a technical default on its external debt after it failed to reach an agreement with holdout creditors in the US. The FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER government rejected repeated attempts by the court to encourage a negotiated solution with holdouts. Throughout much of 2015, negotiations to repay holdout creditors stalled. The government’s delay in reaching a settlement and the continuation of interventionist policies contributed to high inflation and a prolonged recession.
After being elected into office on December 10, President MACRI has taken significant steps to liberalize the Argentine economy. His administration lifted capital controls; floated the peso, negotiated debt payments with holdout bond creditors, and removed export controls on some commodities.
Under the old Soviet central planning system, Armenia developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics, in exchange for raw materials and energy. Armenia has since switched to small-scale agriculture and away from the large agroindustrial complexes of the Soviet era. Armenia has only two open trade borders - Iran and Georgia - because its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey have been closed since 1991 and 1993, respectively, as a result of Armenia's ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region.|
Armenia joined the WTO in January 2003. The government has made some improvements in tax and customs administration in recent years, but anti-corruption measures have been ineffective. Armenia will need to pursue additional economic reforms and strengthen the rule of law in order to regain economic growth and improve economic competitiveness and employment opportunities, especially given its economic isolation from two of its nearest neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Armenia's geographic isolation, a narrow export base, and pervasive monopolies in important business sectors have made it particularly vulnerable to the sharp deterioration in the global economy and the economic downturn in Russia. Armenia is particularly dependent on Russian commercial and governmental support and most key Armenian infrastructure is Russian-owned and/or managed, especially in the energy sector, including electricity and natural gas. Remittances from expatriates working in Russia are equivalent to about 20% of GDP and partly offset the country's severe trade imbalance. Armenia joined Russia in the Eurasian Economic Union upon the bloc's launch in January 2015, even though the ruble's sharp depreciation in December 2014 led to currency instability, inflation, and a significant decrease in exports from Armenia to Russia.
Tourism, petroleum bunkering, hospitality, and financial and business services are the mainstays of the small open Aruban economy.|
Tourist arrivals have rebounded strongly following a dip after the 2008 global financial crisis. Tourism now accounts for a majority of economic activity. Over 1 million tourists per year visit Aruba, with the large majority of those from the US. The rapid growth of the tourism sector has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction continues to boom with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level.
Aruba is heavily dependent on imports and is making efforts to expand exports to achieve a more desirable trade balance. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, the Netherlands, and Panama being the major suppliers.
Aruba weathered two major shocks in recent years: fallout from the global financial crisis, which had its largest impact on tourism, and the closure of its oil refinery in 2009. However, tourism and related industries have continued to grow, and the Aruban government is working to attract more diverse industries. Aruba's banking sector withstood the recession well, and unemployment has significantly decreased.
|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, dredging of aragonite sands (The Bahamas), and production of crude oil and natural gas (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and North Sea).|
Following two decades of continuous growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system, Australia enters 2016 facing a range of growth constraints, principally driven by a sharp fall in global prices of key export commodities. Demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China has stalled and sharp drops in current prices have impacted growth.|
The services sector is the largest part of the Australian economy, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of jobs. Australia was comparatively unaffected by the global financial crisis as the banking system has remained strong and inflation is under control.
Australia benefited from a dramatic surge in its terms of trade in recent years, although this trend has reversed due to falling global commodity prices. Australia is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. Australia's abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas project, will significantly expand the resources sector.
Australia is an open market with minimal restrictions on imports of goods and services. The process of opening up has increased productivity, stimulated growth, and made the economy more flexible and dynamic. Australia plays an active role in the World Trade Organization, APEC, the G20, and other trade forums. Australia’s free trade agreement (FTA) with China entered into force in 2015, adding to existing FTAs with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the US, and a regional FTA with ASEAN and New Zealand. Australia continues to negotiate bilateral agreements with India and Indonesia, as well as larger agreements with its Pacific neighbors and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and an Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that includes the ten ASEAN countries and China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and India. Australia is also working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam.
Austria, with its well-developed market economy, skilled labor force, and high standard of living, is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany's. Its economy features a large service sector, a relatively sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector.|
Economic growth has been relatively weak in recent years, approaching 0.9% in 2015. Austria's 5.8% unemployment rate, while low by European standards, is at its highest rate since the end of World War II, driven by an increased number of refugees and EU migrants entering the labor market. Without extensive vocational training programs and generous early retirement, the unemployment rate would be even higher.
Although Austria's fiscal position compares favorably with other euro-zone countries, it faces several external risks, such as unexpectedly weak world economic growth threatening the export market, Austrian banks' continued exposure to Central and Eastern Europe, repercussions from the Hypo Alpe Adria bank collapse, political and economic uncertainties caused by the European sovereign debt crisis, the current refugee crisis, and continued unrest in Russia/Ukraine. Early signs point towards a slight improvement in 2016, driven by low interest rates on government debt. Currently, the budget deficit stands at 2.7% of GDP and public debt has reached a post-war high of 84.2% of the GDP.
Azerbaijan's high economic growth has been attributable to large and growing oil and gas exports, but some non-export sectors also featured double-digit growth, including construction, banking, and real estate. Oil exports through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, the Baku-Novorossiysk, and the Baku-Supsa pipelines remain the main economic driver, but efforts to boost Azerbaijan's gas production are underway. The eventual completion of the geopolitically important Southern Gas Corridor between Azerbaijan and Europe will open up another, albeit, smaller source of revenue from gas exports.|
Azerbaijan has made only limited progress on instituting market-based economic reforms. Pervasive public and private sector corruption and structural economic inefficiencies remain a drag on long-term growth, particularly in non-energy sectors. Several other obstacles impede Azerbaijan's economic progress, including the need for stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector and 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 with Turkey and the nations of Europe.
Long-term prospects depend on world oil prices, Azerbaijan's ability to negotiate export routes for its growing gas production, and its ability to use its energy wealth to promote growth and spur employment in non-energy sectors of the economy.
The Bahamas is one of the wealthiest Caribbean countries with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Tourism together with tourism-driven construction and manufacturing accounts for approximately 60% of GDP and directly or indirectly employs half of the archipelago's labor force. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy and, when combined with business services, account for about 35% of GDP. Manufacturing and agriculture combined contribute less than one 10th of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. The economy of The Bahamas shrank at an average pace of 0.8% annually between 2007 and 2011, and tourism, financial services, and construction - pillars of the national economy - remain subdued. Conditions are improving in the tourism sector, however, due to steady foreign investment led activity. New resort and marina developments are likely to provide sustained employment opportunities.|
Low oil prices have generated a budget deficit of at least a $4 billion deficit in 2015, 13% of GDP. Bahrain has few options for covering this deficit, with meager foreign assets and a constrained borrowing ability, stemming in part from a sovereign debt rating averaging just above “junk” status.|
Oil comprises 86% of Bahraini budget revenues, despite past efforts to diversify its economy and to build communication and transport facilities for multinational firms with business in the Gulf. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state.
Other major economic activities are production of aluminum - Bahrain's second biggest export after oil - finance, and construction. Bahrain continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries.
In 2011 Bahrain experienced economic setbacks as a result of domestic unrest driven by the majority Shia population, however, the economy recovered in 2012-15, partly as a result of improved tourism. In addition to addressing its current fiscal woes, Bahraini authorities face the long-term challenge of boosting Bahrain’s regional competitiveness—especially regarding industry, finance, and tourism—and reconciling revenue constraints with popular pressure to maintain generous state subsidies and a large public sector.
Bangladesh's economy has grown roughly 6% per year since 1996 despite political instability, poor infrastructure, corruption, insufficient power supplies, slow implementation of economic reforms, and the 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the services sector, almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product.|
Garment exports, the backbone of Bangladesh's industrial sector, accounted for more than 80% of total exports and surpassed $25 billion in 2015. The sector continues to grow, despite a series of factory accidents that have killed more than 1,000 workers, and crippling strikes, including a nationwide transportation blockade implemented by the political opposition during the first several months of 2015. Steady garment export growth combined with remittances from overseas Bangladeshis - which totaled about $15 billion and 8% of GDP in 2015 - are the largest contributors to Bangladesh's sustained economic growth and rising foreign exchange reserves.
Barbados is the wealthiest and most developed country in the Eastern Caribbean and enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about four-fifths of GDP and of exports being attributed to services. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and a relatively highly educated workforce. Barbados' tourism, financial services, and construction industries have been hard hit since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008. Barbados' public debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 56% in 2008 to 101% in 2015. Growth prospects are limited because of a weak tourism outlook and planned austerity measures.|
As part of the former Soviet Union, Belarus had a relatively well-developed, though aging industrial base; it retained this industrial base - which is now outdated, energy inefficient, and dependent on subsidized Russian energy and preferential access to Russian markets - following the breakup of the USSR. The country also has a broad agricultural base which is largely inefficient and dependent on government subsidies. After an initial burst of capitalist reform from 1991-94, including privatization of smaller state enterprises and some service sector businesses, creation of institutions of private property, and development of entrepreneurship, Belarus' economic development greatly slowed. About 80% of all industry remains in state hands, and foreign investment has been hindered by a climate hostile to business. A few banks, which had been privatized after independence, were renationalized. State banks account for 75% of the banking sector.|
Economic output, which had declined for several years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, revived in the mid-2000s due to the boom in oil prices. Belarus has only small reserves of crude oil, though it imports most of its crude oil and natural gas from Russia at prices substantially below the world market. Belarus exported refined oil products at market prices produced from Russian crude oil purchased at a steep discount. In late 2006, Russia began a process of rolling back its subsidies on oil and gas to Belarus. Tensions over Russian energy reached a peak in 2010, when Russia stopped the export of all subsidized oil to Belarus save for domestic needs. In December 2010, Russia and Belarus reached a deal to restart the export of discounted oil to Belarus. In 2015, Belarus continued to import Russian crude oil at a discounted price. However, the plunge in global oil prices heavily reduced revenues.
Little new foreign investment has occurred in recent years. In 2011, a financial crisis began, triggered by government directed salary hikes unsupported by commensurate productivity increases. The crisis was compounded by an increased cost in Russian energy inputs and an overvalued Belarusian ruble, and eventually led to a near three-fold devaluation of the Belarusian ruble in 2011. In November 2011, Belarus agreed to sell to Russia its remaining shares in Beltransgaz, the Belarusian natural gas pipeline operator, in exchange for reduced prices for Russian natural gas. Receiving part of a $3 billion loan from the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) Bail-out Fund, a $1 billion loan from the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank, and the $2.5 billion sale of Beltransgaz to Russian state-owned Gazprom helped stabilize the situation in 2012; nevertheless, the Belarusian currency lost more than 60% of its value, as the rate of inflation reached new highs in 2011 and 2012, before calming in 2013. In December 2013, Russia announced a new loan for Belarus of up to $2 billion for 2014. Notwithstanding foreign assistance, the Belarusian economy continued to struggle under the weight of high external debt servicing payments and trade deficit. In mid-December 2014, structural economic shortcomings were aggravated by the devaluation of the Russian ruble and triggered a near 40% devaluation of the Belarusian ruble. Belarus entered 2015 with stagnant economic growth and reduced hard currency reserves, with under one month of import cover.
This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with Belgium’s EU trade partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries.|
In 2015, Belgian GDP grew by 1.4%, the unemployment rate stabilized at 8.6%, and the budget deficit was 2.7% of GDP. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL's center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to reduce Belgium's high public debt, which remains above 100% of GDP, but such efforts could also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and high unemployment promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.
The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to tax policy, labor market rules, and welfare benefits. These changes risk worsening tensions with trade unions and triggering extended strikes.
Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner in this small economy, followed by exports of crude oil, marine products, sugar, citrus, and bananas.|
The government's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, initiated in September 1998, led to GDP growth averaging nearly 4% in 1999-2007. Oil discoveries in 2006 bolstered this growth and oil exploration continues, but production has fallen in recent years and future oil revenues remain uncertain. Growth slipped to 0% in 2009, due to the global economic slowdown, natural disasters, and a temporary drop in the price of oil, but growth grew to 2.2% in 2015.
Although Belize has the third highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure masks a huge income disparity between rich and poor, and a key government objective remains reducing poverty and inequality with the help of international donors. High unemployment, a growing trade deficit and heavy foreign debt burden continue to be major concerns.
The free market economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton is a key export commodity; high prices supported export earnings. Growth in real output has averaged 6.5% since 2014. Inflation has subsided and remained 1% over the past several years.|
An insufficient electrical supply continues to hamper Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production. Private foreign direct investment is small, and foreign aid accounts for the majority of investment in infrastructure projects.
Benin’s 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory. Though security remains a problem, the Port of Cotonou has made progress towards implementing the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in an effort to remain competitive. Projects included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact (2006-2011) were designed to increase investment and private sector activity by improving key institutional and physical infrastructure. The four projects focused on access to land, access to financial services, access to justice, and access to markets (including modernization of the port). The Port of Cotonou is the largest component of Benin’s economy with revenues projected to account for more than 40% of Benin’s national budget. Realizing its economic potential requires further efforts to infrastructure upgrades, stemming corruption, and expanding access to foreign markets in Nigeria and neighboring landlocked countries. In September 2015, Benin signed a MCC second Compact for $375 million that is designed to strengthen the national utility service provider, attract private sector investment, fund infrastructure investments in electricity generation and distribution, and develop off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households. In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, encourage new information and communication technology, and establish Independent Power Producers (IPP).
Tourism accounts for about 5% of Bermuda's GDP, but a much larger share of employment. Over 80% of its visitors come from the US. The sector struggled in the wake of the global recession of 2008-09. International business, which consists primarily of reinsurance and other financial services, is the real bedrock of Bermuda's economy, consistently accounting for about 85% of the island's GDP. Even this sector, however, has lost roughly 5,000 high-paying expatriate jobs since 2008, weighing heavily on household consumption and retail sales. Bermuda must import almost everything. Agriculture and industry are limited due to the small size of the island.|
Bermuda's economy entered its seventh straight year of recession in 2015. Unemployment is 9%, public debt is growing and exceeds $2.3 billion, the government pension fund faces a $2.4 billion shortfall, and the economy has not attracted significant amounts of new foreign investment. Bermuda's FY 2015-16 budget projects a 12% larger deficit than FY14/15. The government announced it would borrow $125 million in 2015 to meet current operating expenses. Still, Bermuda enjoys the fourth highest per capita income in the world, about 70% higher than that of the US.
Bhutan's economy, small and less developed, is based largely on hydropower, agriculture, and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than half of the population. Because rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive, industrial production is primarily of the cottage industry type. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and is dependent on India for financial assistance and migrant laborers for development projects, especially for road construction. Bhutan inked a pact in December 2014 to expand duty-free trade with Bangladesh, the only trade partner with which Bhutan enjoys a surplus.|
Multilateral development organizations administer most educational, social, and environment programs, and take into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.
Bhutan’s largest export - hydropower to India - could spur sustainable growth in the coming years if Bhutan resolves chronic delays in construction. Bhutan currently taps only 5% of its 30,000-megawatt hydropower potential and is behind schedule in building 12 new hydropower dams with a combined capacity of 10,000 megawatts by 2020 in accordance with a deal signed in 2008 with India. The high volume of imported materials to build hydropower plants has expanded Bhutan's trade and current account deficits. However, Bhutan and India in April 2014 agreed to begin four additional hydropower projects, which would generate 2,120 megawatts in total. Bhutan also is exploring energy exports to Bangladesh.
Bolivia is a resource rich country with strong growth attributed to captive markets for natural gas exports – to Brazil and Argentina. Gas accounts for roughly 50% of Bolivia's total exports and will fund more than half of its 2015 budget. However, the country remains one of the least developed countries in Latin America because of state-oriented policies that deter investment and growth.|
Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates in the 1990s. The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans - subsequently abandoned - to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large Northern Hemisphere markets. In 2005, the government passed a controversial hydrocarbons law that imposed significantly higher royalties and required foreign firms then operating under risk-sharing contracts to surrender all production to the state energy company in exchange for a predetermined service fee. The global recession slowed growth, but Bolivia recorded the highest growth rate in South America during 2009 and has averaged 5.3% growth each year since 2009. High commodity prices between 2010 and 2013 sustained rapid growth and large trade surpluses. The global decline in oil prices in late 2014 exerted downward pressure on the price Bolivia receives for exported gas and resulted in lower GDP growth rates and losses in government revenue in 2015.
A lack of foreign investment in the key sectors of mining and hydrocarbons, along with conflict among social groups, pose challenges for the Bolivian economy. In 2015, President Evo MORALES expanded efforts to court international investment and boost Bolivia’s energy production capacity. MORALES passed an investment law and promised not to nationalize additional industries in an effort to improve the investment climate.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||
Bosnia has a transitional economy with limited market reforms. The economy relies heavily on the export of metals, energy, textiles, and furniture as well as on remittances and foreign aid. A highly decentralized government hampers economic policy coordination and reform, while excessive bureaucracy and a segmented market discourage foreign investment. Foreign banks, primarily from Austria and Italy, now control most of the banking sector. The konvertibilna marka (convertible mark or BAM) - the national currency introduced in 1998 - is pegged to the euro, and confidence in the currency and the banking sector has remained stable.|
Interethnic warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar, but the economy made progress until 2008, when the global economic crisis caused a downturn. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement in September 2007.
Bosnia's private sector is growing slowly, but foreign investment has dropped sharply since 2007. Government spending - including transfer payments - remains high, at roughly 40% of GDP, because of redundant government offices at the national, sub-national, and municipal level. High unemployment remains the most serious macroeconomic problem. Successful implementation of a value-added tax in 2006 provided a steady source of revenue for the government and helped rein in gray-market activity. National-level statistics have also improved over time but a large share of economic activity remains unofficial and unrecorded.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's top economic priorities are: acceleration of integration into the EU; strengthening the fiscal system; public administration reform; World Trade Organization membership; and securing economic growth by fostering a dynamic, competitive private sector.
Botswana has maintained one of the world's highest economic growth rates since independence in 1966. Diamond mining has fueled much of the expansion and currently accounts for one quarter of GDP, approximately 85% of export earnings, and about one-third of the government's revenues. Tourism is the secondary earner of foreign exchange and many Batswana engage in subsistence farming and cattle raising. Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country with a per capita GDP of $17,700 in 2015. Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa.|
Botswana's economy is highly correlated with global economic trends because of its heavy reliance on a single luxury export. According to official government statistics, unemployment is 19.5%, but unofficial estimates run much higher. De Beers, a major international diamond company, signed a 10-year deal with Botswana in 2012 and moved its rough stone sorting and trading division from London to Gaborone in 2013. The move was geared to support the development of Botswana's nascent downstream diamond industry.
Following the 2008 global recession Botswana’s economy recovered in 2010. However, the Government of Botswana estimates the economy grew by only 1% in 2015. This was primarily due to the downturn in the global diamond market; water and power shortages also played a role. In October 2015 President Ian KHAMA announced a stimulus plan to boost the economy through projects in agricultural production, construction, manufacturing, and tourism development. In 2016, Botswana entered its fourth year of drought, detrimental to Botswana’s small, but vital agriculture sector.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is second highest in the world and threatens the country's impressive economic gains.
no economic activity; declared a nature reserve|
Characterized by large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, and a rapidly expanding middle class, Brazil's economy outweighs that of all other South American countries, and Brazil is expanding its presence in world markets. Since 2003, Brazil has steadily improved its macroeconomic stability, building up foreign reserves, and reducing its debt profile by shifting its debt burden toward real denominated and domestically held instruments. Since 2008, Brazil became a net external creditor and all three of the major ratings agencies awarded investment grade status to its debt.|
After strong growth in 2007 and 2008, the onset of the global financial crisis hit Brazil in 2008. Brazil experienced two quarters of recession, as global demand for Brazil's commodity-based exports dwindled and external credit dried up. However, Brazil was one of the first emerging markets to begin a recovery. In 2010, consumer and investor confidence revived and GDP growth reached 7.5%, the highest growth rate in the past 25 years. GDP growth has slowed since 2011, due to several factors, including overdependence on exports of raw commodities, low productivity, high operational costs, persistently high inflation, and low levels of investment. After reaching historic lows of 4.8% in 2014, the unemployment rate remains low, but is rising. Brazil's traditionally high level of income inequality has declined for the last 15 years.
Brazil’s fiscal and current account balances have eroded during the past four years as the government attempted to boost economic growth through targeted tax cuts for industry and incentives to spur household consumption. After winning reelection in October 2014 by a historically narrow margin, President Dilma ROUSSEFF appointed a new economic team led by Finance Minister Joaquim LEVY, who introduced a fiscal austerity package intended to restore the primary account surplus (before interest expenditures are included) to 1.2% of GDP and preserve the country's investment-grade sovereign credit rating. LEVY encountered political headwinds and an economy facing more challenges than he anticipated. The target for the primary account surplus fell to a deficit of 2%, and two of the three main credit rating agencies downgraded Brazil to “junk” status.
Brazil seeks to strengthen its workforce and its economy over the long run by imposing local content and technology transfer requirements on foreign businesses, by investing in education through social programs such as Bolsa Familia and the Brazil Science Mobility Program, and by investing in research in the areas of space, nanotechnology, healthcare, and energy.
|British Indian Ocean Territory||
All economic activity is concentrated on the largest island of Diego Garcia, where a joint UK-US military facility is located. Construction projects and various services needed to support the military installation are performed by military and contract employees from the UK, Mauritius, the Philippines, and the US. Some of the natural resources found in this territory include coconuts, fish, and sugarcane. Sugarcane is still a major export for this territory. There are no industrial or agricultural activities on the islands. The territory earns foreign exchange by selling fishing licenses and postage stamps.|
|British Virgin Islands||
The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is highly dependent on tourism generating an estimated 45% of the national income. More than 934,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 2008. Because of traditionally close links with the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands has used the US dollar as its currency since 1959.|
Livestock raising is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands' ability to meet domestic food requirements.
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. Roughly 400,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 2000. 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, made the British Virgin Islands even more attractive to international business.
Brunei is an energy-rich sultanate on the northern coast of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Brunei boasts a well-educated, largely English-speaking population; excellent infrastructure; and a stable government intent on attracting foreign investment. Crude oil and natural gas production account for approximately 65% of GDP and 95% of exports, with Japan as the primary export market.|
Per capita GDP is among the highest in the world, and substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic hydrocarbon production. Bruneian citizens do not pay personal income taxes, and the government provides free medical services and free education through the university level.
The Bruneian Government wants to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon exports to other industries such as information and communications technology and halal manufacturing. Brunei’s trade in 2016 is set to increase following its regional economic integration in the ASEAN Economic Community, and the expected ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Bulgaria, a former communist country that entered the EU on 1 January 2007, averaged more than 6% annual growth from 2004 to 2008, driven by significant amounts of bank lending, consumption, and foreign direct investment.|
Successive governments have demonstrated a commitment to economic reforms and responsible fiscal planning, but the global downturn sharply reduced domestic demand, exports, capital inflows, and industrial production. GDP contracted by 5.5% in 2009, and has been slow to recover in the years since.
Despite a favorable investment regime, including low, flat corporate income taxes, significant challenges remain. Corruption in public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime continue to hamper the country's investment climate and economic prospects.
Burkina Faso is a poor, landlocked country that depends on adequate rainfall. About 80% of the population is engaged in subsistence farming and cotton is the main cash crop. The country has few natural resources and a weak industrial base.|
Cotton and gold are Burkina Faso’s key exports - gold has accounted for about three-quarters of the country’s total export revenues. Burkina Faso’s economic growth and revenue depends on global prices for the two commodities. The Burkinabe economy experienced high levels of growth over the last few years, and the country has seen an upswing in gold exploration, production, and exports.
Burkina Faso experienced a number of public protests over the high cost of living, corruption, and other socioeconomic issues in 2013, while the fall of the COMPAORE government in 2014 and failed coup in September 2015 disrupted economic activity and strained government finances. A new three-year IMF program was approved in 2013 to focus on improving the quality of public investment and ensuring inclusive growth. Political insecurity in neighboring Mali, unreliable energy supplies, and poor transportation links pose long-term challenges.
Since the transition to a civilian government in 2011, Burma has begun an economic overhaul aimed at attracting foreign investment and reintegrating into the global economy. Economic reforms have included establishing a managed float of the Burmese kyat in 2012, re-writing the Foreign Investment Law in 2012 to allow more foreign investment participation, granting the Central Bank operational independence in July 2013, enacting a new Anti-corruption Law in September 2013, and granting licenses to nine foreign banks in 2014 and four more foreign banks in 2016.|
The government’s commitment to reform, and the subsequent easing of most Western sanctions, led to accelerated growth in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, growth slowed because of political uncertainty in an election year, summer floods, and external factors, including China’s slowdown and lower commodity prices. Burma’s abundant natural resources, young labor force, and proximity to Asia’s dynamic economies have attracted foreign investment in the energy sector, garment industry, information technology, and food and beverages. Pledged foreign direct investment grew from $4.1 billion in FY 2013 to $8.1 billion in FY 2014.
Despite these improvements, living standards have not improved for the majority of the people residing in rural areas. Burma remains one of the poorest countries in Asia – approximately 26% of the country’s 51 million people live in poverty. The previous government’s isolationist policies and economic mismanagement have left Burma with poor infrastructure, endemic corruption, underdeveloped human resources, and inadequate access to capital, which will require a major commitment to reverse. The Burmese government has been slow to address impediments to economic development such as insecure land rights, a restrictive trade licensing system, an opaque revenue collection system, and an antiquated banking system. The newly elected government, led by AUNG SAN SUU KYI, will likely focus on accelerating agricultural productivity and land reforms, modernizing and opening the financial sector, and improving fiscal management.
Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. Agriculture accounts for over 40% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi's primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Thus, Burundi's export earnings - and its ability to pay for imports - rest primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices, although exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Burundi is heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors. Foreign aid in 2014 represented 42% of Burundi's national income, the second highest rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Burundi joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2009.|
An ethnic war that ended in 2005 resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Political stability, aid flows, and economic activity improved following the end of the civil war, but underlying weaknesses - a high poverty rate, poor education rates, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, overburdened utilities, and low administrative capacity – have prevented the government from implementing planned economic reforms. Government corruption has also hindered the development of a private sector as companies have to deal with ever changing rules. The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept pace with inflation.
In 2015, Burundi’s economy suffered from political turmoil over President NKURUNZIZA’s controversial third term. Blocked transportation routes disrupted the flow of agricultural goods. And donors withdrew aid, increasing Burundi’s budget deficit. When the unrest ends, regional infrastructure improvements driven by the EAC and funded by the World Bank may help improve Burundi’s transport connections and lower transportation costs.
Cabo Verde’s economy is vulnerable to external shocks and depends on development aid, foreign investment, remittances, and tourism. The economy is service-oriented with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for about three-fourths of GDP. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy and depends on conditions in the euro-zone countries. Cabo Verde annually runs a high trade deficit financed by foreign aid and remittances from its large pool of emigrants; remittances as a share of GDP are one of the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.|
Although about 40% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. The island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages, exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought, and poor soil for growing food on several of the islands, requiring it to import most of what it consumes. The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited.
Economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy and mitigate high unemployment. The government’s elevated debt levels have limited its capacity to finance any shortfalls.
Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth over the last decade; GDP grew at an average annual rate of over 8% between 2000 and 2010 and at least 7% since 2011. The tourism, garment, construction and real estate, and agriculture sectors accounted for the bulk of growth. Around 600,000 people, the majority of whom are women, are employed in the garment and footwear sector. An additional 500,000 Cambodians are employed in the tourism sector, and a further 50,000 people in construction. Tourism has continued to grow rapidly with foreign arrivals exceeding 2 million per year since 2007 and reaching around 4.5 million visitors in 2014. Mining also is attracting some investor interest and the government has touted opportunities for mining bauxite, gold, iron and gems.|
Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia and long-term economic development remains a daunting challenge, inhibited by endemic corruption, limited human resources, high income inequality, and poor job prospects. As of 2012, approximately 2.66 million people live on less than $1.20 per day, and 37% of Cambodian children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. More than 50% of the population is less than 25 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the impoverished countryside, which also lacks basic infrastructure.
The Cambodian Government has been working with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and IMF, to address the country's many pressing needs; more than 30% of the government budget comes from donor assistance. A major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance.
Modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions provide Cameroon with one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Oil remains Cameroon’s main export commodity, and despite falling global oil prices, still accounts for nearly 40% of export earnings. Cameroon’s economy suffers from factors that often impact underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, continuing inefficiencies of a large parastatal system in key sectors, 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 IMF continues to press for economic reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. The Government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel that have strained the federal budget and diverted funds from education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects, especially in 2015, as low oil prices have led to lower revenues.
Cameroon devotes significant resources to several large infrastructure projects currently under construction, including a deep sea port in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. Cameroon’s energy sector continues to diversify, recently opening a natural gas powered electricity generating plant. Cameroon continues to seek foreign investment to improve its inadequate infrastructure, create jobs, and improve its economic footprint, but its unfavorable business environment remains a significant deterrent to foreign investment.
As a high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada 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. In addition, the country's petroleum sector is rapidly expanding, because Alberta's oil sands significantly boosted Canada's proven oil reserves. Canada now ranks third in the world in proved oil reserves behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.|
The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US, its principal trading partner. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with the US, which absorbs about three-fourths of Canadian merchandise exports each year. Canada is the US's largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, and electric power, and a top source of US uranium imports.
Given its abundant natural resources, highly skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoyed solid economic growth from 1993 through 2007. Buffeted by the global economic crisis, the economy dropped into a sharp recession in the final months of 2008, and Ottawa posted its first fiscal deficit in 2009 after 12 years of surplus. Canada's major banks, however, emerged from the financial crisis of 2008-09 among the strongest in the world, owing to the early intervention by the Bank of Canada and the financial sector's tradition of conservative lending practices and strong capitalization. Canada achieved marginal growth in 2010-15, despite the recent drop in oil prices.
With no direct taxation, the islands are a thriving offshore financial center. More than 93,000 companies were registered in the Cayman Islands as of 2008, including almost 300 banks, 800 insurers, and 10,000 mutual funds. A stock exchange was opened in 1997. Nearly 90% of the islands' food and consumer goods must be imported. The Caymanians enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of Switzerland.|
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 1.9 million in 2008, with about half from the US.
|Central African Republic||
Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry and mining, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with about 60% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than half of GDP. Timber and diamonds account for most export earnings, followed by cotton. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked geography, poor transportation system, largely unskilled work force, and legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.|
Since 2009, the IMF has worked closely with the government to institute reforms that have resulted in some improvement in budget transparency, but other problems remain. The government's additional spending in the run-up to the 2011 election worsened CAR's fiscal situation. In 2012, the World Bank approved $125 million in funding for transport infrastructure and regional trade, focused on the route between CAR's capital and the port of Douala in Cameroon. After a two-year lag in donor support, the IMF's first review of CAR's extended credit facility for 2012-15 praised improvements in revenue collection but warned of weak management of spending.
Kimberley Process participants partially lifted the ban on diamond exports from the country in 2015, but persistent insecurity will prevent GDP from recovering to its pre-2013 level.
Chad’s landlocked location results in high transportation costs for imported goods and dependence on neighboring countries. Oil and agriculture are mainstays of Chad’s economy. Oil provides about 60% of export revenues, while cotton, cattle, livestock, and gum arabic provide the bulk of Chad's non-oil export earnings. The services sector contributes about one-third of GDP and has attracted foreign investment mostly through telecommunications and banking.|
Nearly all of Chad’s fuel is provided by one domestic refinery, and unanticipated shutdowns occasionally result in shortages. The country regulates the price of domestic fuel, providing an incentive for black market sales.
Chad’s fiscal position is encumbered by declining oil prices, though high oil prices and strong local harvests supported the economy in recent years. Chad relies on foreign assistance and foreign capital for much public and private sector investment. Chad's investment climate remains challenging due to limited infrastructure, a lack of trained workers, extensive government bureaucracy, and corruption. Chad obtained a three-year extended credit facility from the IMF in 2014 and was granted debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative in April 2015.
Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade and a reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. Exports of goods and services account for approximately one-third of GDP, with commodities making up some 60% of total exports. Copper alone provides 20% of government revenue.|
From 2003 through 2013, real growth averaged almost 5% per year, despite the slight contraction in 2009 that resulted from the global financial crisis. Growth slowed to an estimated 2.3% in 2015. A continued drop in copper prices prompted Chile to experience its second consecutive year of slow growth, elevated inflation, and a depreciating currency.
Chile deepened its longstanding commitment to trade liberalization with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004. Chile has 22 trade agreements covering 60 countries including agreements with the EU, Mercosur, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico. In May 2010, Chile signed the OECD Convention, becoming the first South American country to join the OECD. In October 2015, Chile joined the US and 10 other countries and concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The agreement will need to be ratified by the Chilean legislature.
The Chilean Government has generally followed a countercyclical fiscal policy, accumulating surpluses in sovereign wealth funds during periods of high copper prices and economic growth, and generally allowing deficit spending only during periods of low copper prices and growth. As of 31 October 2015, those sovereign wealth funds - kept mostly outside the country and separate from Central Bank reserves - amounted to more than $22.4 billion. Chile used these funds to finance fiscal stimulus packages during the 2009 economic downturn.
In 2014, President Michelle BACHELET introduced tax reforms aimed at delivering her campaign promise to fight inequality and to provide access to education and health care. The reforms are expected to generate additional tax revenues equal to 3% of Chile’s GDP, mostly by increasing corporate tax rates to OECD averages.
Since the late 1970s, China has moved from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one that plays a major global role; in 2010, China became the world's largest exporter. Reforms began with the phaseout of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, growth of the private sector, development of stock markets and a modern banking system, and opening to foreign trade and investment. China has implemented reforms in a gradualist fashion. In recent years, China has renewed its support for state-owned enterprises in sectors considered important to "economic security," explicitly looking to foster globally competitive industries. The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2015 stood as the largest economy in the world, surpassing the US in 2014 for the first time in modern history. Still, China's per capita income is below the world average.|
After keeping its currency tightly linked to the US dollar for years, China in July 2005 moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. From mid-2005 to late 2008, cumulative appreciation of the renminbi against the US dollar was more than 20%, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing allowed resumption of a gradual appreciation. In 2015, the People’s Bank of China announced it would continue to carefully push for full convertibility of the renminbi after the currency was accepted as part of the IMF’s special drawing rights basket.
The Chinese Government faces numerous economic challenges including: (a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic consumption; (b) facilitating higher-wage job opportunities for the aspiring middle class, including rural migrants and increasing numbers of college graduates; (c) reducing corruption and other economic crimes; and (d) containing environmental damage and social strife related to the economy's rapid transformation. Economic development has progressed further in coastal provinces than in the interior, and by 2014 more than 274 million migrant workers and their dependents had relocated to urban areas to find work. One consequence of population control policy is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the North - is another long-term problem. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. The Chinese government is seeking to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, focusing on nuclear and alternative energy development.
Several factors are converging to slow China's growth, including debt overhang from its credit-fueled stimulus program, industrial overcapacity, inefficient allocation of capital by state-owned banks, and the slow recovery of China's trading partners. The government's 13th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in November 2015, emphasizes continued economic reforms and the need to increase innovation and domestic consumption in order to make the economy less dependent in the future on fixed investments, exports, and heavy industry. However, China has made only marginal progress toward these rebalancing goals. The new government of President XI Jinping has signaled a greater willingness to undertake reforms that focus on China's long-term economic health, including giving the market a more decisive role in allocating resources. In 2014, China agreed to begin limiting carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
The main economic activities on Christmas Island are the mining of low grade phosphate, limited tourism, the provision of government services and more recently the construction and operation of the Immigration Detention Center. The government sector includes administration, health, education, policing, customs, quarantine, and defense.|
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||
Coconuts, grown throughout the islands, are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.|
Colombia's consistently sound economic policies and aggressive promotion of free trade agreements in recent years have bolstered its ability to weather external shocks. Colombia depends heavily on energy and mining exports, making it vulnerable to a drop in commodity prices. Colombia is the world's fourth largest coal exporter and Latin America's fourth largest oil producer. Economic development is stymied by inadequate infrastructure, inequality, poverty, narcotrafficking and an uncertain security situation.|
Declining oil prices have resulted in a drop in government revenues. In 2014, Colombia passed a tax reform bill to offset the lost revenue from the global drop in oil prices. The SANTOS administration is also using tax reform to help finance implementation of a peace deal between FARC and the government. Colombian officials estimate a peace deal may bolster economic growth by up to 2%.
Despite austerity measures put in place by the SANTOS administration, GDP and foreign direct investment fell in 2015, while the El Nino weather phenomenon caused food and energy prices to rise, with inflation spiking to 6.8%. In order to combat inflation, the Central Bank raised interest rates four times during the last four months of 2015, ending the year with a 25 basis point increase to 5.75%. Unemployment has continued to decrease and hit a record low of 8.9% in 2015, but the rate is still one of Latin America's highest. Nevertheless, Colombia’s GDP growth rate makes it the region’s best performer among large economies in 2015.
Real GDP growth averaged 4.8% per year from 2010-2014, continuing a decade of strong economic performance, before dropping in 2015. All three major ratings agencies upgraded Colombia's government debt to investment grade in 2013 and 2014, which helped to attract record levels of investment, mostly in the hydrocarbons sector. However, Standard & Poor’s downgraded its long-term outlook from stable to negative in early 2016. The change, due largely to falling government revenues, could cause Colombia to lose its investment-grade bond status.
The SANTOS Administration's foreign policy has focused on bolstering Colombia's commercial ties and boosting investment at home. Colombia has signed or is negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with more than a dozen countries; the US-Colombia FTA went into force in May 2012. The US and Colombia have benefitted from the FTA, but Colombia’s ability to take full advantage of its enhanced access to American markets continues to be constrained by lack of export diversification. Nontariff measures remain a point of contention for bilateral trade relations. Truck scrappage regulation, and restrictions on liquor, pharmaceutical, and ethanol imports are top irritants in the bilateral trade relationship. Colombia is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance - a regional trade block formed in 2012 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to promote regional trade and economic integration. In 2013, Colombia began its accession process to the OECD.
One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that are hampered by 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 and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, accounts for 50% of GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang; and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires and extreme weather. Despite agriculture’s importance to the economy, the country imports roughly 70% of its food; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports.|
Authorities are negotiating with the IMF for triennial program assistance. The government - which is racked by internal political disputes - is struggling to provide basic services, upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. Recurring political instability, sometimes initiated from outside the country, has inhibited growth. Remittances from about 200,000 Comorans contribute about 25% of the country’s GDP. In December 2012, IMF and the World Bank's International Development Association supported $176 million in debt relief for Comoros, resulting in a 59% reduction of its future external debt service over a period of 40 years. In late 2013, a US-based investment company invested $200 million in a project to explore for hydrocarbons in Comoran territorial waters, the largest financial investment in the country’s history.
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||
The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast natural resource wealth - is slowly recovering after decades of decline.|
Systemic corruption since independence in 1960, combined with countrywide instability and conflict that began in the early-90s, has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue and increased external debt. With the installation of a transitional government in 2003 after peace accords, economic conditions slowly began to improve as the transitional government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President KABILA began implementing reforms. Progress has been slow to reach the interior of the country although clear changes are evident in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.
Renewed activity in the mining sector, the source of most export income, has boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth in recent years, although recent commodity price declines threaten to erase progress. An uncertain legal framework, corruption, and a lack of transparency in government policy are long-term problems for the large mining sector and for the economy as a whole.
The country marked its thirteenth consecutive year of positive economic expansion in 2015. Much economic activity still occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. The DRC signed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF in 2009 and received $12 billion in multilateral and bilateral debt relief in 2010, but the IMF at the end of 2012 suspended the last three payments under the loan facility - worth $240 million - because of concerns about the lack of transparency in mining contracts. In 2012, the DRC updated its business laws by adhering to OHADA, the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa.
|Congo, Republic of the||
The economy is a mixture of subsistence farming and hunting, an industrial sector based largely on oil and support services, and government spending. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Natural gas is increasingly being converted to electricity rather than being flared, greatly improving energy prospects. New mining projects, particularly iron ore, which entered production in late 2013, may add as much as $1 billion to annual government revenue.|
Economic reform efforts have been undertaken with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF, including the recently concluded Article IV consultations. The current administration faces difficult economic challenges of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty. The recent drop in oil prices has constrained government spending; lower oil prices forced the government to cut more than $1 billion in planned spending. However, the government increased infrastructure spending for the September 2015 All-Africa Games and also ahead of the March 2016 presidential election, putting further pressure on the budget.
Officially the country became a net external creditor as of 2011, with external debt representing only about 16% of GDP and debt servicing less than 3% of government revenue.
Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure. Agriculture, employing more than one-quarter of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports of copra and citrus fruit. Black pearls are the Cook Islands' leading export. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid overwhelmingly from New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt. Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled investment and growth.|
|Coral Sea Islands||
no economic activity|
Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4% per year in 2010-15. While traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value-added goods and services, including medical devices, have further bolstered exports. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism.|
Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009 after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. CAFTA-DR has increased foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including the insurance and telecommunications sectors. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and legal uncertainty due to the difficulty of enforcing contracts and overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, remain impediments to greater competitiveness.
Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances, which in 2014 represented 1% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, legally and illegally, are an important source of mostly unskilled labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system.
Cote d'Ivoire is heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, which engage roughly two-thirds of the population. Cote d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and in climatic conditions. Cocoa, oil, and coffee are the country's top export revenue earners, but the country is also mining gold.|
Following the end of more than a decade of civil conflict in 2011, Cote d’Ivoire has experienced a boom in foreign investment and economic growth. In June 2012, the IMF and the World Bank announced $4.4 billion in debt relief for Cote d'Ivoire under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
Though still one of the wealthiest of the former Yugoslav republics, Croatia's economy suffered badly during the 1991-95 war. The country's output during that time collapsed, and Croatia missed the early waves of investment in Central and Eastern Europe that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Between 2000 and 2007, however, Croatia's economic fortunes began to improve with moderate but steady GDP growth between 4% and 6% led by a rebound in tourism and credit-driven consumer spending. Inflation over the same period remained tame and the currency, the kuna, stable.|
Croatia experienced an abrupt slowdown in the economy in 2008 and has yet to recover; economic growth was stagnant or negative in each year since 2009. Difficult problems still remain including a stubbornly high unemployment rate, uneven regional development, and a challenging investment climate. Croatia continues to face reduced foreign investment.
On 1 July 2013, Croatia joined the EU, following a decade-long application process. Croatia will be a member of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism until it meets the criteria for joining the Economic and Monetary Union and adopts the euro as its currency. EU accession has increased pressure on the government to reduce Croatia’s relatively high public debt, which triggered the EU’s excessive deficit procedure for fiscal consolidation. Zagreb has cut spending since 2012, and the government also raised additional revenues through more stringent tax collection and by raising the value-added tax. The government has also sought to accelerate privatization of non-strategic assets, with mixed success.
The government continues to balance the need for loosening its socialist economic system against a desire for firm political control. In April 2011, the government held the first Cuban Communist Party Congress in almost 13 years, during which leaders approved a plan for wide-ranging economic changes. Since then, the government has slowly and incrementally implemented limited economic reforms, including allowing Cubans to buy electronic appliances and cell phones, stay in hotels, and buy and sell used cars. The government has cut state sector jobs as part of the reform process, and it has opened up some retail services to "self-employment," leading to the rise of so-called "cuentapropistas" or entrepreneurs. Approximately 476,000 Cuban workers are currently registered as self-employed.|
The Cuban regime has updated its economic model to include permitting the private ownership and sale of real estate and new vehicles, allowing private farmers to sell agricultural goods directly to hotels, allowing the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives, adopting a new foreign investment law, and launching a “Special Development Zone” around the Mariel port.
Since late 2000, Venezuela has provided petroleum products to Cuba on preferential terms, supplying nearly 100,000 barrels per day. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela, including some 30,000 medical professionals.
Most of Curacao’s GDP results from services. Tourism, petroleum refining and bunkering, offshore finance, and transportation and communications are the mainstays of this small island economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Curacao has limited natural resources, poor soil, and inadequate water supplies, and budgetary problems complicate reform of the health and education systems. Although GDP grew only slightly during the past decade, Curacao enjoys a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region.|
Curacao has an excellent natural harbor that can accommodate large oil tankers, and the port of Willemstad hosts a free trade zone and a dry dock. Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA, under a contract in effect until 2019, leases the single refinery on the island from the government, directly employing some 1,000 people; most of the oil for the refinery is imported from Venezuela; most of the refined products are exported to the US and Asia. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, the Netherlands and Venezuela being the major suppliers.
The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade and has signed an Association Agreement with the EU to expand business there. In 2013, the government implemented changes to the sales tax and reformed the public pension and health care systems, including increasing the sales tax from 5% to as high as 9% on some products, raising the age for public pension withdrawals to 65, and requiring citizens to pay higher premiums.
The area of the Republic of Cyprus under government control has a market economy dominated by the service sector, which accounts for more than four-fifths of GDP. Tourism, financial services, shipping, and real estate have traditionally been the most important sectors. Cyprus has been a member of the EU since May 2004 and adopted the euro as its national currency in January 2008.|
During the first five years of EU membership, the Cyprus economy grew at an average rate of about 4%, with unemployment between 2004 and 2008 averaging about 4%. However, the economy tipped into recession in 2009 as the ongoing global financial crisis and resulting low demand hit the tourism and construction sectors. An overextended banking sector with excessive exposure to Greek debt added to the contraction. Cyprus’ biggest two banks were among the largest holders of Greek bonds in Europe and had a substantial presence in Greece through bank branches and subsidiaries. Following numerous downgrades of its credit rating, Cyprus lost access to international capital markets in May 2011. In July 2012, Cyprus became the fifth euro-zone government to request an economic bailout program from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - known collectively as the "Troika."
Shortly after the election of President Nikos ANASTASIADES in February 2013, Cyprus reached an agreement with the Troika on a $13 billion bailout that resulted in losses on uninsured bank deposits. The bailout triggered a two-week bank closure and the imposition of capital controls that remained partially in place until April 2015. Cyprus' two largest banks merged and the combined entity was recapitalized through conversion of some large bank deposits to shares and imposition of losses on bank bondholders. As with other EU countries, the Troika conditioned the bailout on passing financial and structural reforms and privatizing state-owned enterprises. Despite downsizing and restructuring, the Cypriot financial sector throughout 2015 remained burdened by the largest stock of non-performing loans in the euro zone, equal to nearly half of all loans. Since the bailout, Cyprus has received positive appraisals by the Troika and outperformed fiscal targets but has struggled to overcome political opposition to bailout-mandated legislation, particularly regarding privatizations. Cyprus emerged from recession in 2015 and its economy grew an estimated 1.6% for the year, setting a positive tone for the scheduled end of the bailout program in March 2016.
In October 2013, a US-Israeli consortium completed preliminary appraisals of hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which revealed an estimated gross mean reserve of about 130 billion cubic meters. Though exploration continues in Cyprus’ EEZ, no additional commercially exploitable reserves were identified during the exploratory drilling in 2014/2015. Developing offshore hydrocarbon resources remains a critical component of the government’s economic recovery efforts, but development has been delayed as a result of regional developments and disagreements about exploitation methods.
Czechia is a stable and prosperous market economy that is closely integrated with the EU, especially since the country's EU accession in 2004. The auto industry is the largest single industry, and, together with its upstream suppliers, accounts for nearly 24% of Czech manufacturing. Czechia produced more than a million cars for the first time in 2010, over 80% of which were exported.|
While the conservative, inward-looking Czech financial system has remained relatively healthy, the small, open, export-driven Czech economy remains sensitive to changes in the economic performance of its main export markets, especially Germany. When Western Europe and Germany fell into recession in late 2008, demand for Czech goods plunged, leading to double digit drops in industrial production and exports. As a result, real GDP fell sharply in 2009. The economy slowly recovered in the second half of 2009 and registered weak growth in the next two years. In 2012 and 2013, however, the economy fell into a recession again, due both to a slump in external demand in the EU and to the government’s austerity measures, returning to weak growth in 2014, and stronger growth in 2015.
Foreign and domestic businesses alike voice concerns about corruption, especially in public procurement. Other long term challenges include dealing with a rapidly aging population, funding an unsustainable pension and health care system, and diversifying away from manufacturing and toward a more high-tech, services-based, knowledge economy.
This thoroughly modern market economy features a high-tech agricultural sector, advanced industry with world-leading firms in pharmaceuticals, maritime shipping and renewable energy, and a high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food, oil, and gas and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus, but depends on imports of raw materials for the manufacturing sector. Danes enjoy a high standard of living and the Danish economy is characterized by extensive government welfare measures and an equitable distribution of income. An aging population will be a major long-term issue.|
Denmark is a member of the EU; Danish legislation and regulations conform to EU standards on almost all issues. Despite previously meeting the criteria to join the European Economic and Monetary Union, Denmark has negotiated an opt-out with the EU and is not required to adopt the euro. Within the EU, Denmark is among the strongest supporters of trade liberalization.
After a long consumption-driven upswing, Denmark's economy began slowing in 2007 with the end of a housing boom. Housing prices dropped markedly in 2008-09 but, with significant regional differences, have since recovered. Household indebtedness is still relatively high at more than 305% of net disposable income in 2014, while household net worth - from private pension schemes and other assets - amounted to 546% of net disposable income.
The global financial crisis exacerbated this cyclical slowdown by increasing domestic borrowing costs and lowering foreign demand for Danish exports. Denmark maintained a healthy budget surplus for many years up to 2008, but the budget balance swung into deficit in 2009. The structural budget deficit has remained below 1% and is estimated at -0.4% in 2016. Denmark is experiencing a lackluster economic recovery, having still not regained the GDP level of 2008. GDP contracted in 2012 and 2013, followed by real growth of 1.3% in 2014, and 1.2% in 2015. The government projects 1.9% growth in 2016, while private sector estimates are about 1% growth. A historically low level of unemployment rose with the economic downturn but the labor market has strengthened since 2013, and unemployment stood at about 4.5% in early 2016, based on the national measure. Productivity growth was significantly below the OECD average in 2012–2014.
Economic activity is limited to providing services to the military and their families located in Dhekelia. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.|
Djibouti's economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location as a deepwater port on the Red Sea. Three-fourths of Djibouti's inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall and less than 4% arable land limits crop production to small quantities of 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. Imports, exports, and re-exports represent 70% of port activity at Djibouti's container terminal. Reexports consist primarily of coffee from landlocked neighbor Ethiopia. Djibouti 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 official unemployment rate of nearly 50% - with youth unemployment near 80% - continues to be a major problem. Inflation declined to 3% in 2014 due to low international food prices and a decline in electricity tariffs.
Djibouti’s reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food and water leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks, though in mid-2015 Djibouti passed new legislation to liberalize the energy sector. The government has emphasized infrastructure development for transportation and energy and Djibouti – with the help of foreign partners – has begun to increase and modernize its port capacity.
The Dominican economy has been dependent on agriculture - primarily bananas - in years past, but increasingly has been driven by tourism as the government seeks to promote Dominica as an "ecotourism" destination. Moreover, Dominica has an offshore medical education sector. In order to diversify the island's economy, the government is also attempting to foster an offshore financial industry and plans to sign agreements with the private sector to develop geothermal energy resources. In 2003, the government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy - including the elimination of price controls, privatization of the state banana company, and tax increases - to address an economic and financial crisis and to meet IMF requirements. In 2009 and 2013, the economy contracted as a result of the global recession; growth remains anemic. Although public debt levels continue to exceed pre-recession levels, the debt burden declined from 78% of GDP in 2011 to approximately 70% in 2012.|
The Dominican Republic has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, but in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in construction, tourism, and free trade zones. The mining sector has also played a greater role in the export market since late 2012 with the commencement of the extraction phase of the Pueblo Viejo Gold and Silver mine. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of GDP. High unemployment, a large informal sector, and underemployment remain important long-term challenges.|
The economy is highly dependent upon the US, the destination for approximately half of exports. Remittances from the US amount to about 7% of GDP, equivalent to about a third of exports and two-thirds of tourism receipts. The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) came into force in March 2007, boosting investment and exports and reducing losses to the Asian garment industry.
The Dominican Republic's economy rebounded from the global recession in 2010-15, and the fiscal situation is improving. A tax reform package passed in November 2012, a reduction in government spending, and lower energy costs helped to narrow the central government budget deficit from 6.6% of GDP in 2012 to 2.6% in 2015. A liability management operation in January 2015, in which the government paid down over $4 billion of the country’s Petrocaribe debt at a discount of 52% with proceeds from the sale of $2.5 billion in global bonds, reduced the country’s debt load by approximately by 4% of GDP. Analysts project 6% GDP growth in 2016 and inflation within the Central Bank’s target of 4.0% ± 1.0%, due to low oil prices, increased remittances, and continued expansion in the services sector based on growth in construction.
Ecuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources, which have accounted for more than half of the country's export earnings and approximately 25% of public sector revenues in recent years.|
In 1999/2000, Ecuador's economy suffered from a banking crisis, with GDP contracting by 5.3% and poverty increasing significantly. In March 2000, the Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and positive growth returned in the years that followed, helped by high oil prices, remittances, and increased non-traditional exports. The economy grew an average of 4.3% per year from 2002 to 2006, the highest five-year average in 25 years. After moderate growth in 2007, the economy reached a growth rate of 6.4% in 2008, buoyed by high global petroleum prices and increased public sector investment. President Rafael CORREA Delgado, who took office in January 2007, defaulted in December 2008 on Ecuador's sovereign debt, which, with a total face value of approximately US$3.2 billion, represented about 30% of Ecuador's public external debt. In May 2009, Ecuador bought back 91% of its "defaulted" bonds via an international reverse auction.
Economic policies under the CORREA administration - for example, an announcement in late 2009 of its intention to terminate 13 bilateral investment treaties, including one with the US - have generated economic uncertainty and discouraged private investment. China has become Ecuador's largest foreign lender since Quito defaulted in 2008, allowing the government to maintain a high rate of social spending; Ecuador contracted with the Chinese government for more than $9.9 billion in forward oil sales, project financing, and budget support loans as of December 2013.
The level of foreign investment in Ecuador continues to be one of the lowest in the region as a result of an unstable regulatory environment, weak rule of law, and the crowding-out effect of public investments. Faced with a 2013 trade deficit of $1.1 billion, Ecuador erected technical barriers to trade in December 2013, causing tensions with its largest trading partners. Ecuador also decriminalized intellectual property rights violations in February 2014. In March, 2015 Ecuador imposed tariff surcharges for 15 months from 5% to 45% on an estimated 32% of imports. In 2014, oil output increased slightly and production remained steady in 2015. In 2015, however, lower oil prices forced CORREA to cut the budget twice, and the government has considered further budget and subsidy cuts for 2016.
Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. Egypt's economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel NASSER but opened up considerably under former Presidents Anwar EL-SADAT and Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK.|
Cairo from 2004 to 2008 pursued business climate reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate growth. Poor living conditions and limited job opportunities for the average Egyptian contribute to public discontent, a major factor leading to the January 2011 revolution that ousted MUBARAK. The uncertain political, security, and policy environment since 2011 caused economic growth to slow significantly, hurting tourism, manufacturing, and other sectors and pushing up unemployment.
Weak growth and limited foreign exchange earnings have made public finances unsustainable, leaving authorities dependent on expensive borrowing for deficit finance and on Gulf allies to help cover the import bill. In 2015, higher levels of foreign investment contributed to a slight rebound in GDP growth after a particularly depressed post-revolution period.
The smallest country in Central America geographically, El Salvador has the fourth largest economy in the region. With the global recession, real GDP contracted in 2009 and economic growth has since remained low, averaging less than 2% from 2010 to 2014, but recovered somewhat in 2015. Remittances accounted for 17% of GDP in 2014 and were received by about a third of all households.|
In 2006, El Salvador was the first country to ratify the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has bolstered the export of processed foods, sugar, and ethanol, and supported investment in the apparel sector amid increased Asian competition. In September 2015, El Salvador kicked off a five-year $277 million second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation - a US Government agency aimed at stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty - to improve El Salvador's competitiveness and productivity in international markets..
The Salvadoran Government maintained fiscal discipline during post-war reconstruction and rebuilding following earthquakes in 2001 and hurricanes in 1998 and 2005, but El Salvador's public debt, estimated at 65% of GDP in 2015, has been growing over the last several years. Total external debt was nearly 60% of GDP in 2015.
Exploitation of oil and gas deposits, beginning in the 1990s, has driven economic growth in Equatorial Guinea, allowing per capita GDP to rise to over $29,000 in 2014. Forestry and farming are minor components of GDP. Although preindependence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings, the neglect of the rural economy since independence has diminished the potential for agriculture-led growth. Subsistence farming is the dominant form of livelihood. Declining revenue from hydrocarbon production, high levels of infrastructure expenditures, lack of economic diversification, and corruption have pushed the economy into decline in recent years and led to limited improvements in the general population’s living conditions.|
Foreign assistance programs by the World Bank and the IMF have been cut since 1993 because of corruption and mismanagement, and as a middle income country Equatorial Guinea is now ineligible for most donor assistance. The government has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency and misuse of oil revenues and has attempted to address this issue by working towards compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. US foreign assistance to Equatorial Guinea is limited in part because of US restrictions pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Equatorial Guinea hosted two economic diversification symposia in 2014 that focused on attracting investment in five sectors: agriculture and animal ranching, fishing, mining and petrochemicals, tourism, and financial services. Undeveloped mineral resources include gold, zinc, diamonds, columbite-tantalite, and other base metals.
Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of financial resources and chronic drought, which have been exacerbated by restrictive economic policies. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Like the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population - nearly 80% in Eritrea - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output.|
Since the conclusion of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war in 2000, the government has expanded use of military and party-owned businesses to complete President ISAIAS's development agenda. The government has strictly controlled the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability; new regulations in 2013 aimed at relaxing currency controls have had little economic effect. Few large private enterprises exist in Eritrea and most operate in conjunction with government partners, including a number of large international mining ventures, which began production in 2013. In late 2015, the government of Eritrea introduced a new currency, retaining the name nakfa, and restricted the amount of hard currency individuals could withdraw from banks per month. The changeover has resulted in exchange fluctuations and the scarcity of hard currency available in the market.
While reliable statistics on food security are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the percentage of the labor force tied up in national service continue to interfere with agricultural production and economic development. Eritrea's harvests generally cannot meet the food needs of the country without supplemental grain purchases. Copper, potash, and gold production are likely to drive economic growth and government revenue over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans. Eritrea's economic future will depend on market reform, international sanctions, global food prices, and success at addressing social problems such as refugee emigration.
Estonia, a member of the EU since 2004 and the euro zone since 2011, has a modern market-based economy and one of the higher per capita income levels in Central Europe and the Baltic region. Estonia's successive governments have pursued a free market, pro-business economic agenda, and sound fiscal policies that have resulted in balanced budgets and low public debt.|
The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, and Germany. After two years of robust recovery in 2011 and 2012, the Estonian economy faltered in 2013 with only 1.6% GDP growth, mainly due to continuing recession in much of the EU. GDP growth in 2014 was 2.9% but dropped to 1.2% in 2015 due to lower demand in key Scandinavian export markets. GDP growth is expected to be about 2.2% in 2016.
Estonia is challenged by a shortage of labor, both skilled and unskilled, although the government has amended its immigration law to allow easier hiring of highly qualified foreign workers.
Ethiopia has grown at a rate between 8% and 11% annually for more than a decade and the country is the fifth-fastest growing economy among the 188 IMF member countries. This growth has been driven by sustained progress in the agricultural and service sectors. Ethiopia has the lowest level of income-inequality in Africa and one of the lowest in the world, with a Gini coefficient comparable to that of the Scandinavian countries. Yet despite progress toward eliminating extreme poverty, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, due both to rapid population growth and a low starting base. Changes in rainfall associated with world-wide weather patterns resulted in the worst drought in thirty years in 2015/2016, creating food insecurity for millions of Ethiopians.|
Almost 80% of Ethiopia’s population is still employed in the agricultural sector, but services have surpassed agriculture as the principal source of GDP. Under Ethiopia's constitution, the state owns all land and provides long-term leases to tenants. Since 2005, the Ethiopian government has introduced a system to register traditional land use rights and provide certificates documenting these rights. Initial surveys show that land-use certificates have significantly increased the willingness of farmers to invest in improvements on their land, from terracing to irrigation. However, title rights in urban areas, particularly Addis Ababa, are poorly regulated, and subject to corruption.
Ethiopia’s export earnings are led by the services sector - primarily Ethiopian airlines - followed by several commodities. While coffee remains the largest foreign exchange earner, Ethiopia is diversifying exports and commodities such as gold, sesame, khat, livestock and horticulture products are becoming increasingly important. Manufacturing represents less than 8% of total exports. The banking, insurance, telecommunications, and micro-credit industries are restricted to domestic investors, but Ethiopia has attracted significant foreign investment in textiles, leather, commercial agriculture, and light manufacturing.
Ethiopia remains a one-party state with a planned economy. In the fall of 2015, the government finalized and published the current 2016-2020 five year plan, known as the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). GTP II emphasizes developing manufactures in sectors where Ethiopia has a comparative advantage in exporting, including textiles and garments, leather goods, and processed agricultural products. New infrastructure projects are to include power production and distribution, roads, rails, airports and industrial parks. To support industrialization, Ethiopia plans to increase power generation by 8,320 MW, up from an installed capacity of 2,000 MW, by building three more major dams and expanding to other sources of renewable energy. Construction is underway on an electric railway network that will connect Ethiopia to all its neighbors, with a link to the Port of Djibouti already finished and partially functioning. A tripling of capacity at the international airport in Addis Ababa to 25 million passengers will be completed in 2017, while construction of a completely new airport is being planned by 2025. Meanwhile, the domestic airport network has expanded to nineteen airports in a country where mountains and deserts make developing and maintaining a road network challenging. Despite difficult topography, more than a hundred thousand kilometers of roads have been built, connecting previously isolated regions.
Internally, the 28 EU member states have adopted the framework of a single market with free movement of goods, services and capital. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe's trade position and its political and economic weight.|
Despite great differences in per capita income among member states (from $13,000 to $82,000) and in national attitudes toward issues like inflation, debt, and foreign trade, the EU has achieved a high degree of coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. A common currency – the euro – circulates among 19 of the member states, under the auspices of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Eleven member states introduced the euro as their common currency on 1 January 1999 (Greece did so two years later). Since 2004, 13 states acceded to the EU. Of the 13, Slovenia (2007), Cyprus and Malta (2008), Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014), and Lithuania (2015) have adopted the euro; 7 other member states - not including the UK nor Denmark, which have formal opt-outs - are required by EU treaties to adopt the common currency upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria.
The EU economy is slowly recovering from the 2008-09 global economic crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone in 2011. The bloc posted moderate GDP growth in 2014 and 2015, but the recovery has been uneven. Some EU member states (Czech Republic, Ireland and Spain) have recorded strong growth while others (Finland, Greece) are struggling to shake off recession. The recovery has been buoyed by lower commodities prices and accommodative monetary policy, which has lowered interest rates and the euro’s foreign exchange value. Despite EU/IMF rescue programs in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus, significant drags on growth remain, including high public and private debt loads, low domestic demand that discourages investment, aging populations, onerous regulations, and high unemployment. These factors - in combination with low oil prices - have subdued inflation in the euro zone despite the European Central Bank’s (ECB) efforts to spur more lending and investment through its asset-buying program and negative interest rates. The ECB in December 2015 stated it would widen its asset-buying program and extend it until March 2017 to fend off deflation and improve borrowing conditions in the euro zone.
Beyond the risk of deflation, the EU economy is vulnerable to a slowdown of global trade that would shrink the EU’s ample external trade surplus. Another round of financial market turmoil because of disagreements between bailed-out Greece and its euro-zone creditor could also be detrimental to a stronger EU recovery if it hurts consumer and investor confidence. To bolster economic growth and create jobs, EU leaders have moved forward with plans to use $28 (€21) billion in public money as seed capital to attract private investors to fund $421 [€315] billion in infrastructure projects from 2015 to 2017, focusing on energy, broadband, transport, education, and research and innovation. They also are forging ahead on creating a capital markets union to ease the burdens of cross-border investment in the bloc. Externally, the EU continues to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the US, the goal of which is to expand already large trade and investment flows.
|Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)||
The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, but fishing and tourism currently comprise the bulk of economic activity. In 1987, the government began selling fishing licenses to foreign trawlers operating within the Falkland Islands' exclusive fishing zone. These license fees net more than $40 million per year, which help support the island's health, education, and welfare system. The waters around the Falkland Islands are known for their squid, which account for around 75% of the annual 200,000 ton catch.|
Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Foreign exchange earnings come from shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and from the sale of postage stamps and coins. In 2001, the government purchased 100 reindeer with the intent to increase the number to 10,000 over the following 20 years so that venison could be exported to Scandinavia and Chile.
Tourism, especially ecotourism, is increasing rapidly, with about 69,000 visitors in 2009. The British military presence also provides a sizable economic boost. The islands are now self-financing except for defense.
In 1993, the British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands, and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day. Political tensions between the UK and Argentina remain high following the start of oil drilling activities in the waters. In September 2011, a British exploration firm announced that it plans to commence oil production in 2016.
The Faroese economy has experienced a period of significant growth since 2011, due to increases in fish prices, salmon farming, and catches in the pelagic fisheries. Nominal GDP growth was an estimated 7.5% in 2013 and 5.9% in 2014. The fisheries sector accounts for about 95% of exports and half of GDP. Unemployment is low, estimated at 2.9% in mid-2015.|
The public budget has exhibited deficits since 2008, which were financed through increased borrowing. Public debt reached 38% of GDP in 2015. Aided by an annual subsidy from Denmark amounting to about 4% of Faroese GDP, the Faroese have a standard of living equal to that of Denmark.
Dependence on fishing makes the economy vulnerable to price fluctuations. Projections for fish prices are favorable and increasing public infrastructure investments are likely to lead to continued growth in the short term.
Fiji, endowed with forest, mineral, and fish resources, is one of the most developed and connected of the Pacific island economies. Earnings from the tourism industry, with an estimated 755,000 tourists visiting in 2015, and remittances from Fijian’s working abroad are the country’s largest foreign exchange earners.|
Fiji's sugar remains a significant industry and a major export. The sugar industry reforms since 2010 have improved productivity and returns, but the industry faces the complete withdrawal of European Union preferential prices by 2017. Fiji’s trade imbalance continues to widen with increased imports and sluggish performance of domestic exports.
The return to parliamentary democracy and successful elections in September 2014 have boosted investor confidence. Private sector investment in 2015 exceeded 20% of GDP, compared to 13% in 2013.
Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy with per capita GDP almost as high as that of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, or Sweden. Trade is important, with exports accounting for over one-third of GDP in recent years.|
Finland is historically competitive in manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Finland excels in export of technology for mobile phones as well as promotion of startups in the information and communications technology, gaming, cleantech, and biotechnology sectors. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods. Because of the cold climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export industry, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population.
Finland had been one of the best performing economies within the EU before 2009 and its banks and financial markets avoided the worst of global financial crisis. However, the world slowdown hit exports and domestic demand hard in that year, causing Finland’s economy to contract from 2012-14. The recession affected general government finances and the debt ratio.
Finland's main challenges will be reducing high labor costs and boosting demand for its exports. In the long term, Finland must address a rapidly aging population and decreasing productivity in traditional industries that threaten competitiveness, fiscal sustainability, and economic growth. The depreciating ruble and Russia’s general economic slowdown will dampen exports to Russia.
The French economy is diversified across all sectors. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. However, the government maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. With more than 84 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that mitigate economic inequality.|
France's real GDP increased by 1.1% in 2015. The unemployment rate (including overseas territories) increased from 7.8% in 2008 to 9.9% in the fourth quarter of 2014. Youth unemployment in metropolitan France decreased from a high of 25.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 24.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Lower-than-expected growth and high spending have strained France's public finances. The budget deficit rose sharply from 3.3% of GDP in 2008 to 7.5% of GDP in 2009 before improving to 4% of GDP in 2014 and 2015, while France's public debt rose from 68% of GDP to more than 98% in 2015, and may hit 100% in 2016.
Elected on a conventionally leftist platform, President Francois HOLLANDE surprised and angered many supporters with a January 2014 speech announcing a sharp change in his economic policy, recasting himself as a liberalizing reformer. The government's budget for 2014 shifted the balance of fiscal consolidation from taxes to a total of $24 billion in spending cuts. In December 2014, HOLLANDE announced additional reforms, including a plan to extend commercial business hours, liberalize professional services, and sell off $6.2-12.4 billion in state owned assets. France’s tax burden remains well above the EU average and income tax cuts over the past decade are being partly reversed, particularly for higher earners. The top rate of income tax is 41%. The government is allowing a 75% payroll tax on salaries over $1.24 million to lapse.
Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence agricultural economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industry. With the halt of French nuclear testing in 1996, the military contribution to the economy fell sharply.|
After growing at an average yearly rate of 4.2% from 1997-2007, GDP stagnated in 2008 and fell by 4.2% in 2009, marking French Polynesia’s entry into recession. GDP growth was positive in 2010-12. Following steady employment level increases between 2002 and 2007 that averaged 2.4% yearly, the number of workers fell by an annual average of 2.2% between 2008 and 2013, due in part to decreased tourism (down an average of 4% per year) in that time period.
French Polynesia’s tourism-dominated service sector accounted for 85% of total value added for the economy in 2009, employing 80% of the workforce. A small manufacturing sector predominantly processes products from French Polynesia’s primary sector - 3% of total economy - including agriculture, pearl farming, and fishing.
|French Southern and Antarctic Lands||
Economic activity is limited to servicing meteorological and geophysical research stations, military bases, 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 sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon relied on timber and manganese exports until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. From 2010 to 2014, oil accounted for approximately 80% of Gabon’s exports, 45% of its GDP, and 60% of its state budget revenues.|
Gabon faces fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. A rebound of oil prices from 2001 to 2013 helped growth, but declining production, as some fields passed their peak production, has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. GDP grew nearly 6% per year over the 2010-14 period, but slowed significantly in 2015 as oil prices declined. Low oil prices also weakened government revenue and negatively affected the trade and current account balances.
Despite an abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management and over-reliance on oil has stifled the economy. There are frequent power cuts and water shortages. However, President BONGO has made efforts to increase transparency and is taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination to diversify the economy. BONGO has attempted to boost growth by increasing government investment in human resources and infrastructure.
The government has invested strongly in the agriculture sector because three-quarters of the population depends on the sector for its livelihood and agriculture provides for another one-fifth of GDP. The agricultural sector has untapped potential - less than half of arable land is cultivated. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's re-export trade accounts for almost 80% of goods exports and China has been its largest trade partner for both exports and imports for several years.|
The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base. It relies heavily on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. Remittance inflows to The Gambia amount to about one-fifth of the country’s GDP. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger tourist destinations in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. Tourism normally brings in about 20% of GDP, but suffered in 2014 from tourists’ fears of Ebola virus in neighboring West African countries. Unemployment and underemployment remain high.
Economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. International donors and lenders continue to be concerned about the quality of fiscal management. The IMF provided $10.8 million in emergency financial assistance to The Gambia in April 2015 to shore up the country’s finances. Relations with international donors have been tarnished by the country’s human rights record.
Israeli security measures and Israeli-Palestinian violence continue to degrade economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories. Israeli-imposed border controls became more restrictive after HAMAS seized control of the territory in June 2007. They have produced high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and a sharp contraction of the private sector, which had relied primarily on export markets.|
Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on the Gaza Strip’s extensive tunnel-based smuggling network has exacerbated fuel, construction material, and consumer goods shortages in the territory. The 51-day conflict in July 2014 that HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant groups fought with Israel further depressed the Gaza Strip’s already aid-dependent economy. Donor support for reconstruction and relaxed Israeli import restrictions in 2014 and 2015 have fallen short of postconflict needs, with almost 100,000 people remaining internally displaced because their homes have yet to be rebuilt or repaired.
Georgia's main economic activities include cultivation of agricultural products such as grapes, citrus fruits, and hazelnuts; mining of manganese, copper, and gold; and producing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, metals, machinery, and chemicals in small-scale industries. The country imports nearly all of its needed supplies of natural gas and oil products. It has sizeable hydropower capacity that now provides most of its energy needs.|
Georgia has overcome the chronic energy shortages and gas supply interruptions of the past by renovating hydropower plants and by increasingly relying on natural gas imports from Azerbaijan instead of from Russia. Construction of the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the South Caucasus gas pipeline, and the Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad are part of a strategy to capitalize on Georgia's strategic location between Europe and Asia and develop its role as a transit point for gas, oil, and other goods. The expansion of the South Caucasus pipeline, as part of the Shah Deniz II Southern Gas Corridor project, will result in a $2 billion foreign investment in Georgia, the largest ever in the country. Gas from Shah Deniz II is expected to begin flowing in 2019.
Georgia's economy sustained GDP growth of more than 10% in 2006-07, based on strong inflows of foreign investment and robust government spending. However, GDP growth slowed following the August 2008 conflict with Russia, and sunk to negative 4% in 2009 as foreign direct investment and workers' remittances declined in the wake of the global financial crisis. The economy rebounded in 2010-13, but FDI inflows, the engine of Georgian economic growth prior to the 2008 conflict, have not recovered fully. Unemployment has also remained high.
The country is pinning its hopes for renewed growth on a determined effort to continue to liberalize the economy by reducing regulation, taxes, and corruption in order to attract foreign investment, with a focus on hydropower, agriculture, tourism, and textiles production. Georgia has historically suffered from a chronic failure to collect tax revenues; however, since 2004 the government has simplified the tax code, improved tax administration, increased tax enforcement, and cracked down on petty corruption, leading to higher revenues. The government has received high marks from the World Bank for its anti-corruption efforts. Since 2012, the Georgian Dream-led government has continued the previous administration's low-regulation, low-tax, free market policies, while modestly increasing social spending, strengthening anti-trust policy, and amending the labor code to comply with International Labor Standards. The government published its 2020 Economic Development Strategy in early 2014 and former Prime Minister Bidzina IVANISHVILI launched the Georgian Co-Investment Fund, a $6 billion private equity fund that will invest in tourism, agriculture, logistics, energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing. In mid-2014, Georgia signed an association agreement with the EU, paving the way to free trade and visa-free travel.
The German economy - the fifth largest economy in the world in PPP terms and Europe's largest - is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force. Like its Western European neighbors, Germany faces significant demographic challenges to sustained long-term growth. Low fertility rates and a large increase in net immigration are increasing pressure on the country's social welfare system and necessitate structural reforms.|
Reforms launched by the government of Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER (1998-2005), deemed necessary to address chronically high unemployment and low average growth, contributed to strong growth and falling unemployment. These advances, as well as a government subsidized, reduced working hour scheme, help explain the relatively modest increase in unemployment during the 2008-09 recession - the deepest since World War II. The new German Government introduced a minimum wage of about $11.60 (8.50 euros) per hour that took effect in 2015.
Stimulus and stabilization efforts initiated in 2008 and 2009 and tax cuts introduced in Chancellor Angela MERKEL's second term increased Germany's total budget deficit - including federal, state, and municipal - to 4.1% in 2010, but slower spending and higher tax revenues reduced the deficit to 0.8% in 2011 and in 2015 Germany reached a budget surplus of 0.9%. A constitutional amendment approved in 2009 limits the federal government to structural deficits of no more than 0.35% of GDP per annum as of 2016, though the target was already reached in 2012.
The German economy suffers from low levels of investment, and a government plan to invest 15 billion euros during 2016-18, largely in infrastructure, is intended to spur needed private investment. Following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Chancellor Angela MERKEL announced in May 2011 that eight of the country's 17 nuclear reactors would be shut down immediately and the remaining plants would close by 2022. Germany plans to replace nuclear power largely with renewable energy, which accounted for 27.8% of gross electricity consumption in 2014, up from 9% in 2000. Before the shutdown of the eight reactors, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its electricity generating capacity and 46% of its base-load electricity production. Domestic consumption, bolstered by low energy prices and a weak euro, are likely to drive German GDP growth again in 2016.
Ghana's economy was strengthened by a quarter century of relatively sound management, a competitive business environment, and sustained reductions in poverty levels, but in recent years has suffered the consequences of loose fiscal policy, high budget and current account deficits, and a depreciating currency. Ghana has a market-based economy with relatively few policy barriers to trade and investment in comparison with other countries in the region, and Ghana is well-endowed with natural resources.|
Agriculture accounts for nearly one-quarter of GDP and employs more than half of the workforce, mainly small landholders. The services sector accounts for about half of GDP. Gold and cocoa exports, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. Expansion of Ghana’s nascent oil industry has boosted economic growth, but the recent oil price crash reduced by half Ghana’s 2015 oil revenue. Production at Jubilee, Ghana's offshore oilfield, began in mid-December 2010 and currently produces roughly 110,000 barrels per day. The country’s first gas processing plant at Atubao is also producing natural gas from the Jubilee field, providing power to several of Ghana’s thermal power plants.
As of 2015, the biggest single economic issue facing Ghana is the lack of consistent electricity. While the MAHAMA administration is taking steps to improve the situation, little progress has been made. Ghana signed a $920 million extended credit facility with the IMF in April 2015 to help it address its growing economic crisis. The IMF fiscal targets will require Ghana to reduce the fiscal deficit by cutting subsidies, decreasing the bloated public sector wage bill, strengthening revenue administration, and increasing revenues. The challenge for Ghana will come as the MAHAMA Administration approaches the November 2016 elections, facing public dissatisfaction in the midst of economic austerity.
Self-sufficient Gibraltar benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. Tax rates are low to attract foreign investment. The British military presence has been sharply reduced and now contributes about 7% to the local economy, compared with 60% in 1984. 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.|
The financial sector, tourism (over 11 million visitors in 2012), gaming revenues, shipping services fees, and duties on consumer goods also generate revenue. The financial sector, tourism, and the shipping sector contribute 30%, 30%, and 25%, respectively, of GDP. Telecommunications, e-commerce, and e-gaming account for the remaining 15%.
Greece has a capitalist economy with a public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 18% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of annual GDP.|
The Greek economy averaged growth of about 4% per year between 2003 and 2007, but the economy went into recession in 2009 as a result of the world financial crisis, tightening credit conditions, and Athens' failure to address a growing budget deficit. By 2013 the economy had contracted 26%, compared with the pre-crisis level of 2007. Greece met the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criterion of no more than 3% of GDP in 2007-08, but violated it in 2009, with the deficit reaching 15% of GDP. Deteriorating public finances, inaccurate and misreported statistics, and consistent underperformance on reforms prompted major credit rating agencies to downgrade Greece's international debt rating in late 2009 and led the country into a financial crisis. Under intense pressure from the EU and international market participants, the government accepted a bailout program that called on Athens to cut government spending, decrease tax evasion, overhaul the civil-service, health-care, and pension systems, and reform the labor and product markets. Austerity measures reduced the deficit to 3% in 2015. Successive Greek governments, however, failed to push through many of the most unpopular reforms in the face of widespread political opposition, including from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public.
In April 2010, a leading credit agency assigned Greek debt its lowest possible credit rating, and in May 2010, the International Monetary Fund and euro-zone governments provided Greece emergency short- and medium-term loans worth $147 billion so that the country could make debt repayments to creditors. In exchange for the largest bailout ever assembled, the government announced combined spending cuts and tax increases totaling $40 billion over three years, on top of the tough austerity measures already taken. Greece, however, struggled to meet the targets set by the EU and the IMF, especially after Eurostat - the EU's statistical office - revised upward Greece's deficit and debt numbers for 2009 and 2010. European leaders and the IMF agreed in October 2011 to provide Athens a second bailout package of $169 billion. The second deal called for holders of Greek government bonds to write down a significant portion of their holdings to try to alleviate Greece’s government debt burden. However, Greek banks, saddled with a significant portion of sovereign debt, were adversely affected by the write down and $60 billion of the second bailout package was set aside to ensure the banking system was adequately capitalized. In exchange for the second bailout, Greece promised to step up efforts to increase tax collection, to reduce the size of government, and to rein in health spending. These austerity measures were designed to generate $7.8 billion in savings during 2013-15, but in fact prolonged Greece's economic recession and depressed tax revenues.
In 2014, the Greek economy began to turn the corner on the recession. Greece achieved three significant milestones: balancing the budget - not including debt repayments; issuing government debt in financial markets for the first time since 2010; and generating 0.7% GDP growth — the first economic expansion since 2007.
Despite the nascent recovery, widespread discontent with austerity measures helped propel the far-left Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party into government in national legislative elections in January 2015. Between January and July 2015, frustrations between the SYRIZA-led government and Greece’s EU and IMF creditors over the implementation of bailout measures and disbursement of funds led the Greek government to run up significant arrears to suppliers and Greek banks to rely on emergency lending, and also called into question Greece’s future in the euro zone. To stave off a collapse of the banking system, Greece imposed capital controls in June 2015 shortly before rattling international financial markets by becoming the first developed nation to miss a loan payment to the IMF. Unable to reach an agreement with creditors, Prime Minister Alexios TSIPRAS held a nationwide referendum on 5 July on whether to accept the terms of Greece’s bailout, campaigning for the ultimately successful “no” vote. The TSIPRAS government subsequently agreed, however, to a new $96 billion bailout in order to avert Greece’s exit from the monetary bloc. On 20 August, Greece signed its third bailout which allowed it to cover significant debt payments to its EU and IMF creditors and ensure the banking sector retained access to emergency liquidity. The TSIPRAS government — which retook office on 20 September after calling new elections in late August — successfully secured disbursal of two delayed tranches of bailout funds. Despite the economic turmoil, Greek GDP did not contract as sharply as feared, with official source estimates of a -0.2% contraction in 2015, boosted in part by a strong tourist season.
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish, income from resource exploration and extraction, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. The subsidy was budgeted to be about $535 million in 2015, approximately 56% of government revenues that year.|
The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's real GDP contracted about 5% from 2012 to 2014. Real growth is projected for 2015 and 2016 due to increasing world prices for fish and shellfish, public construction activities, and to a small degree from increased revenues from small-scale mining.
During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care, and retirement systems. The public budget exhibited a deficit of 2% of GDP in 2014, but public debt remains low at about 5% of GDP.
The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more recently, mackerel. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which accounted for 91% of exports in 2015 - the economy remains very sensitive to external demand and price fluctuations.
The Greenlandic economy is expected to expand in 2016, but significant challenges face the island. High unemployment, structural challenges stemming from low levels of qualified labor, geographic dispersion, an undiversified economy, the long-term sustainability of the public budget, and a declining population due to emigration. Catches in fisheries have been declining in recent years and a reversal in prices will quickly lead to vulnerabilities. Hydrocarbon exploration has ceased with declining oil prices and currently only three mines are under development. The island has potential for natural resource exploitation with rare-earth, uranium, and iron ore mineral projects proposed.
Tourism offers another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.
Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of tourism and higher education - especially in medicine - contributed to growth in national output; however, economic growth remained stagnant in 2010-14, after a sizable contraction in 2009, because of the global economic slowdown's effects on tourism and remittances. Gross national saving – and wealth – has been declining since 2010.|
Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) severely damaged the agricultural sector - particularly nutmeg and cocoa cultivation - which had been a key driver of economic growth. Grenada has rebounded from the devastating effects of the hurricanes but is now saddled with the debt burden from the rebuilding process. Public debt-to-GDP is about 110%, leaving the MITCHELL administration limited room to engage in public investments and social spending. MITCHELL in 2013 announced a structural adjustment program that includes a plan to increase tax revenue.
US national defense spending is the main driver of Guam’s economy, followed by tourism and other services. Total federal spending (defense and non-defense) amounted to $1.973 billion in 2014, or 40.4% of GDP. Service exports, mainly spending by foreign tourists while on Guam, amounted to $651 million in 2013, or 13.3% of GDP. In 2013, Guam’s economy grew 0.6%. Despite slow growth, Guam’s economy has been stable over the last decade. National defense spending cushions the island’s economy against fluctuations in tourism. Guam serves as a forward US base for the Western Pacific and is home to thousands of American military personnel. Federal grants amounted to $373.3 million in 2013, or 32.6% of Guam’s total revenues for the fiscal year.|
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly half the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for 13.6% of GDP and 31% of the labor force; key agricultural exports include sugar, coffee, bananas, and vegetables. Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in Central America as a result of Guatemala's large expatriate community in the US. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to over one-half of the country's exports or one-tenth of its GDP.|
The 1996 peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and since then Guatemala has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force in July 2006, spurring increased investment and diversification of exports, with the largest increases in ethanol and non-traditional agricultural exports. While CAFTA-DR has helped improve the investment climate, concerns over security, the lack of skilled workers, and poor infrastructure continue to hamper foreign direct investment.
The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala's overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 39.8% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of Guatemala's children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.
Guatemala is facing growing fiscal pressures exacerbated by multiple corruption scandals in 2015 that led to the resignation of the president, vice president, and numerous high-level economic officials.
Financial services account for about 40% of employment and about 55% of total income in this tiny, prosperous Channel Island economy. Tourism, manufacturing, and horticulture, mainly tomatoes and cut flowers, have been declining. Financial services, construction, retail, and the public sector have been growing. Light tax and death duties make Guernsey a popular tax haven. In October 2014, Guernsey signed an OECD agreement to automatically exchange some financial account information to limit tax avoidance and evasion.|
Guinea-Bissau is highly dependent on subsistence agriculture, cashew nut exports, and foreign assistance. Two out of three Bissau-Guineans remain below the absolute poverty line. The legal economy is based on farming and fishing, but illegal logging and trafficking in narcotics are also important economic activities. The combination of limited economic prospects, weak institutions, and favorable geography have made this West African country a way station for drugs bound for Europe while trade in illegal logging, food, and fishing is also significant.|
Guinea-Bissau has substantial potential for development of mineral resources including phosphates, bauxite, and mineral sands. The country’s climate and soil make it feasible to grow a wide range of cash crops, fruit, vegetables, and tubers; however, cashews generate more than 80% of export receipts and are the main source of income for many rural communities.
With renewed donor support following elections in April-May 2014 and a successful regional bond issuance, the government of Guinea-Bissau made progress paying salaries, settling domestic arrears, and gaining more control over revenues and expenditures, but was deposed by the President in August 2015. A political stalemate since then has resulted in weak governance.
Guinea is a poor country of approximately 11.7 million people that possesses the world's largest reserves of bauxite and largest untapped high-grade iron ore reserves (Simandou), as well as gold and diamonds. In addition, Guinea has fertile soil, ample rainfall, and is the source of several West African rivers, including the Senegal, Niger, and Gambia. Guinea's hydro potential is enormous and the country could be a major exporter of electricity. The country also has tremendous agriculture potential. Gold, bauxite, and diamonds are Guinea’s main mineral exports. International investors have shown interest in Guinea's unexplored mineral reserves, which have the potential to propel Guinea's future growth.|
Following the death of long-term President Lansana CONTE in 2008 and the coup that followed, international donors, including the G-8, the IMF, and the World Bank, significantly curtailed their development programs in Guinea. However, the IMF approved a new 3-year Extended Credit Facility arrangement in 2012, following the December 2010 presidential elections. In September 2012, Guinea achieved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries completion point status. Future access to international assistance and investment will depend on the government’s ability to be transparent, combat corruption, reform its banking system, improve its business environment, and build infrastructure. In April 2013, the government amended its mining code to reduce taxes and royalties. In 2014, Guinea also complied with requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative by publishing its mining contracts and was found to be compliant.
The biggest threats to Guinea’s economy are political instability, a reintroduction on of the Ebola virus epidemic, and low international commodity prices. Rising international donor support and reduced government investment spending will lessen fiscal strains created by the Ebola virus epidemic, but economic recovery will be a long process while the government continues efforts to prevent an outbreak of the disease. The economic toll of Ebola virus epidemic on the Guinean economy is considerable. Ebola stalled promising economic growth in 2014-15, and the economy will continue to stagnate in 2016. Several projects have stalled, such as offshore oil exploration and the giant Simandou iron ore project. The 240 megawatt Kaleta Dam, which was inaugurated in September 2015, has expanded access to electricity for residents of Conakry. Although the recent political stability has brought renewed interest in Guinea from the private sector, an enduring legacy of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of government transparency, combined with fears of Ebola virus, continue to undermine Guinea's economic viability.
Successive governments have failed to address the country's crumbling infrastructure, which is needed for economic development. Guinea suffers from chronic electricity shortages; poor roads, rail lines and bridges; and a lack of access to clean water - all of which continue to plague economic development. The present government, led by President Alpha CONDE, is working to create an economy to attract foreign investment and hopes to have greater participation from western countries and firms in Guinea's economic development.
The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in recent years and is based largely on agriculture and extractive industries. The economy is heavily dependent upon the export of six commodities - sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice - which represent nearly 60% of the country's GDP and are highly susceptible to adverse weather conditions and fluctuations in commodity prices. Much of Guyana's growth in recent years has come from a surge in gold production in response to global prices, although downward trends in gold prices may threaten future growth. In 2014, production of sugar dropped to a 24-year low.|
Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy in January 2006 has broadened the country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector. Guyana has experienced positive growth almost every year over the past decade. Inflation has been kept under control. Recent years have seen the government's stock of debt reduced significantly - with external debt now less than half of what it was in the early 1990s. Despite recent improvements, the government is still juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need for expanded public investment. In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana's principal donor, canceled Guyana's nearly $470 million debt, equivalent to 21% of GDP, which along with other Highly Indebted Poor Country debt forgiveness, brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183% in 2006 to 67% in 2015. Guyana had become heavily indebted as a result of the inward-looking, state-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s.
Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a deficient infrastructure.
Haiti's economy suffered a severe setback in January 2010 when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of its capital city, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring areas. Currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty, the earthquake further inflicted $7.8 billion in damage and caused the country's GDP to contract. In 2011, GDP growth rose to 5.5% as the Haitian economy began recovering from the earthquake. However, growth slowed in 2015 to 2% as political uncertainty, drought conditions, and the depreciation of the national currency took a toll on investment and economic growth.|
Haiti is a free market economy with low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports. Two-fifths of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, which remains vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, and low levels of education for much of the population are among Haiti's most serious impediments to economic growth. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, in 2015 equaling over one-fifth of GDP, and nearly double the combined value of Haitian exports and foreign direct investment.
US economic engagement under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the 2008 Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II) helped increase apparel exports and investment by providing duty-free access to the US. The Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010 extended the CBTPA and HOPE II until 2020, while the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 extended trade benefits provided to Haiti in the HOPE and HELP Acts through September 2025. Apparel sector exports in 2015 reached $904 million and account for about 90% of Haitian exports and more than 10% of the GDP.
Investment in Haiti is hampered by the difficulty of doing business and weak infrastructure, including access to electricity. Haiti's outstanding external debt was cancelled by donor countries following the 2010 earthquake, but has since risen to nearly $2 billion as of December 2015, the majority of which is owed to Venezuela under the PetroCaribe program. Although the government has increased its revenue collection, it continues to rely on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability, with over 20% of its annual budget coming from foreign aid or direct budget support.
|Heard Island and McDonald Islands||
The islands have no indigenous economic activity, but the Australian Government allows limited fishing in the surrounding waters. Visits to Heard Island typically focus on terrestrial and marine research and infrequent private expeditions.|
|Holy See (Vatican City)||
The Holy See is supported financially by a variety of sources, including investments, real estate income, and donations from Catholic individuals, dioceses, and institutions; these help fund the Roman Curia (Vatican bureaucracy), diplomatic missions, and media outlets. Moreover, an annual collection taken up in dioceses and from direct donations go to a non-budgetary fund, known as Peter's Pence, which is used directly by the pope for charity, disaster relief, and aid to churches in developing nations. Donations increased between 2010 and 2011.|
The separate Vatican City State budget includes the Vatican museums and post office and is supported financially by the sale of stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; by fees for admission to museums; and by publication sales. Its revenues increased between 2010 and 2011 because of expanded opening hours and a growing number of visitors. However, the Holy See has not escaped the financial difficulties engulfing other European countries; in 2012, it started a spending review to determine where to cut costs to reverse its 2011 budget deficit of $20 million. The Holy See generated a modest surplus in 2012 before recording a $32 million deficit in 2013, driven primarily by the decreasing value of gold. Most public expenditures go to wages and other personnel costs; the incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome. In February 2014, Pope FRANCIS created the Secretariat of the Economy to oversee financial and administrative operations of the Holy See, part of a broader campaign to reform the Holy See’s finances.
Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America, suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, as well as high underemployment. While historically dependent on the export of bananas and coffee, Honduras has diversified its export base to include apparel and automobile wire harnessing.|
Honduras’s economy depends heavily on US trade and remittances. The US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2006 and has helped foster foreign direct investment, but physical and political insecurity, as well as crime and perceptions of corruption, may deter potential investors; about 15% of foreign direct investment is from US firms.
The economy registered modest economic growth of 2.6%-4.0% from 2010 to 2015, insufficient to improve living standards for the nearly 65% of the population in poverty. In 2015, Honduras faced rising public debt but its economy has performed better than expected due to low oil prices and improved investor confidence. The IMF continues to monitor the three-year standby arrangement signed in December 2014, aimed at easing Honduras’s poor fiscal position.
Hong Kong has a free market economy, highly dependent on international trade and finance - the value of goods and services trade, including the sizable share of re-exports, is about four times GDP. Hong Kong has no tariffs on imported goods, and it levies excise duties on only four commodities, whether imported or produced locally: hard alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol. There are no quotas or dumping laws. Hong Kong continues to link its currency closely to the US dollar, maintaining an arrangement established in 1983.|
Hong Kong's open economy left it exposed to the global economic slowdown that began in 2008. Although increasing integration with China through trade, tourism, and financial links helped it to make an initial recovery more quickly than many observers anticipated, its continued reliance on foreign trade and investment leaves it vulnerable to renewed global financial market volatility or a slowdown in the global economy.
The Hong Kong Government is promoting the Special Administrative Region (SAR) as the site for Chinese renminbi (RMB) internationalization. Hong Kong residents are allowed to establish RMB-denominated savings accounts; RMB-denominated corporate and Chinese government bonds have been issued in Hong Kong; and RMB trade settlement is allowed. The territory far exceeded the RMB conversion quota set by Beijing for trade settlements in 2010 due to the growth of earnings from exports to the mainland. RMB deposits grew to roughly 9.4% of total system deposits in Hong Kong by the end of 2015. The government is pursuing efforts to introduce additional use of RMB in Hong Kong financial markets and is seeking to expand the RMB quota.
The mainland has long been Hong Kong's largest trading partner, accounting for about half of Hong Kong's total trade by value. Hong Kong's natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. As a result of China's easing of travel restrictions, the number of mainland tourists to the territory has surged from 4.5 million in 2001 to 47.3 million in 2014, outnumbering visitors from all other countries combined. Mainland visitors to Hong Kong declined 3% in 2015 to approximately 45.7 million, reflecting an overall drop of 2.5% in total visitors to Hong Kong. Hong Kong has also established itself as the premier stock market for Chinese firms seeking to list abroad. In 2015, mainland Chinese companies constituted about 51% of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and accounted for about 62.1% of the Exchange's market capitalization. During the past decade, as Hong Kong's manufacturing industry moved to the mainland, its service industry has grown rapidly. In 2014, Hong Kong and China signed a new agreement on achieving basic liberalization of trade in services in Guangdong Province under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, adopted in 2003 to forge closer ties between Hong Kong and the mainland. The new measures, effective from March 2015, cover a negative list and a most-favored treatment provision, and will improve access to the mainland's service sector for Hong Kong-based companies.
Credit expansion and a tight housing supply have caused Hong Kong property prices to rise rapidly; consumer prices increased 4.4% in 2014, but slowed to 2.9% in 2015. Lower- and middle-income segments of the population are increasingly unable to afford adequate housing.
Hong Kong’s economic integration with the mainland continues to be most evident in the banking and finance sector. Initiatives like the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect, the Mutual Recognition of Funds, and The Hong Kong Shanghai Gold Connect are all important steps towards opening up the Mainland’s capital markets and has reinforced Hong Kong’s leading role as China’s offshore RMB market. Additional connect schemes from bonds to commodities and other investment products are also under exploration by Hong Kong authorities.
Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capita income nearly two-thirds that of the EU-28 average.|
In late 2008, Hungary's impending inability to service its short-term debt - brought on by the global financial crisis - led Budapest to obtain an IMF/EU/World Bank-arranged financial assistance package worth over $25 billion. The global economic downturn, declining exports, and low domestic consumption and investment, dampened by government austerity measures, resulted in a severe economic contraction in 2009. In 2010, the new government implemented a number of changes including cutting business and personal income taxes, but imposed "crisis taxes" on financial institutions, energy and telecom companies, and retailers. The IMF/EU bailout program lapsed at the end of 2010 and was replaced by Post Program Monitoring and Article IV Consultations on overall economic and fiscal processes. At the end of 2011 the government turned to the IMF and the EU to obtain a financial backstop to support its efforts to refinance foreign currency debt and bond obligations in 2012 and beyond, but Budapest's rejection of EU and IMF economic policy recommendations led to a breakdown in talks with the lenders in late 2012. Global demand for high yield has since helped Hungary to obtain funds on international markets.
Hungary’s progress reducing its deficit to under 3% of GDP led the European Commission in 2013 to permit Hungary for the first time since joining the EU in 2004 to exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure. The government remains committed to keeping the budget deficit in check and lowering public debt by using sectoral taxes, while relying on state interventionist measures to lower utility prices and boost growth and employment.
Iceland's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system. Except for a brief period during the 2008 crisis, Iceland has achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income. The economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 40% of merchandise export earnings, more than 12% of GDP, and employs nearly 5% of the work force. It remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Since 2010, tourism has become the main pillar of Icelandic economic growth, with the number of tourists expected to reach or exceed 4.5 times the Icelandic population in 2016.|
Iceland's economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, particularly within the fields of tourism, software production, and biotechnology. In fall 2013, the Icelandic Government approved a joint application by Icelandic, Chinese, and Norwegian energy firms to conduct oil exploration off Iceland’s northeast coast, although no exploration has yet taken place. Abundant geothermal and hydropower sources have attracted substantial foreign investment in the aluminum sector, boosted economic growth, and sparked some interest from high-tech firms looking to establish data centers using cheap green energy, although the financial crisis has put several investment projects on hold.
Following the privatization of the banking sector in the early 2000s, domestic banks expanded aggressively in foreign markets, and consumers and businesses borrowed heavily in foreign currencies. Worsening global financial conditions throughout 2008 resulted in a sharp depreciation of the krona vis-a-vis other major currencies. The foreign exposure of Icelandic banks, whose loans and other assets totaled more than 10 times the country's GDP, became unsustainable. Iceland's three largest banks collapsed in late 2008. The country secured over $10 billion in loans from the IMF and other countries to stabilize its currency and financial sector, and to back government guarantees for foreign deposits in Icelandic banks. GDP fell 6.8% in 2009, and unemployment peaked at 9.4% in February 2009. Three new banks were established to take over the domestic assets of the collapsed banks. Two of them have majority ownership by the State, which intends to re-privatize them.
Since the collapse of Iceland's financial sector, government economic priorities have included stabilizing the krona, implementing capital controls, reducing Iceland's high budget deficit, containing inflation, addressing high household debt, restructuring the financial sector, and diversifying the economy. Iceland’s financial woes prompted an initial increase in public support to join the EU and the euro zone, with accession negotiations beginning in July 2010, but negotiations were suspended under the 2013 center-right government. Most macroeconomic indicators and employment have rebounded to pre-crisis levels, driven primarily by the unprecedented growth in tourism – averaging over 20% annually – following the well publicized volcanic eruption in 2010.
India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Slightly less than half of the work force is in agriculture, but services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for nearly two-thirds of India's output but employing less than one-third of its labor force. India has capitalized on its large educated English-speaking population to become a major exporter of information technology services, business outsourcing services, and software workers.|
India is developing into an open-market economy, yet traces of its past autarkic policies remain. Economic liberalization measures, including industrial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, began in the early 1990s and served to accelerate the country's growth, which averaged under 7% per year from 1997 to 2011. India's economic growth began slowing in 2011 because of a decline in investment caused by high interest rates, rising inflation, and investor pessimism about the government's commitment to further economic reforms and about slow world growth. Rising macroeconomic imbalances in India and improving economic conditions in Western countries led investors to shift capital away from India, prompting a sharp depreciation of the rupee.
Growth rebounded in 2014 and 2015, with both years exceeding 7%. Investors’ perceptions of India improved in early 2014, due to a reduction of the current account deficit and expectations of post-election economic reform, resulting in a surge of inbound capital flows and stabilization of the rupee. Since the election, economic reforms have focused on administrative and governance changes largely because the ruling party remains a minority in India’s upper house of Parliament, which must approve most bills. Despite a high growth rate compared to the rest of the world, in 2015, India’s government-owned banks faced mounting bad debt, resulting in low credit growth and restrained economic growth.
The outlook for India's long-term growth is moderately positive due to a young population and corresponding low dependency ratio, healthy savings and investment rates, and increasing integration into the global economy. However, India's discrimination against women and girls, an inefficient power generation and distribution system, ineffective enforcement of intellectual property rights, decades-long civil litigation dockets, inadequate transport and agricultural infrastructure, limited non-agricultural employment opportunities, high spending and poorly targeted subsidies, inadequate availability of quality basic and higher education, and accommodating rural-to-urban migration are significant long-term challenges.
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.|
Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, has seen a slowdown in growth since 2012, mostly due to the end of the commodities export boom. During the global financial crisis, Indonesia outperformed its regional neighbors and joined China and India as the only G20 members posting growth. Indonesia’s annual budget deficit is capped at 3% of GDP, and the Government of Indonesia lowered its debt-to-GDP ratio from a peak of 100% shortly after the Asian financial crisis in 1999 to less than 25% today. Fitch and Moody's upgraded Indonesia's credit rating to investment grade in December 2011.|
Indonesia still struggles with poverty and unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, a complex regulatory environment, and unequal resource distribution among its regions. President Joko WIDODO - elected in July 2014 – seeks to develop Indonesia’s maritime resources and pursue other infrastructure development, including significantly increasing its electrical power generation capacity. Fuel subsidies were significantly reduced in early 2015, a move which has helped the government redirect its spending to development priorities. Indonesia, with the nine other ASEAN members, will continue to move towards participation in the ASEAN Economic Community, though full implementation of economic integration has not yet materialized.
Iran's economy is marked by statist policies, inefficiencies, and reliance on oil and gas exports, but Iran also possesses significant agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. The Iranian government directly owns and operates hundreds of state-owned enterprises and indirectly controls many companies affiliated with the country's security forces. Distortions - including inflation, price controls, subsidies, and a banking system holding billions of dollars of non-performing loans - weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth.|
Private sector activity includes small-scale workshops, farming, some manufacturing, and services, in addition to medium-scale construction, cement production, mining, and metalworking. Significant informal market activity flourishes and corruption is widespread.
Fiscal and monetary constraints, following the expansion of international sanctions in 2012 on Iran's Central Bank and oil exports, significantly reduced Iran's oil revenue, forced government spending cuts, and sparked a sharp currency depreciation. Iran’s economy contracted for the first time in two decades during both 2012 and 2013, but growth resumed in 2014. Iran continues to suffer from high unemployment and underemployment. Lack of job opportunities has prompted many educated Iranian youth to seek employment overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain."
In June 2013, the election of President Hasan RUHANI generated widespread public expectations of economic improvement and greater international engagement. Almost two years into his term, RUHANI has achieved some success, including reining in inflation and, in July of 2015, securing the promise of sanctions relief for Iran by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5+1. The JCPOA, which severely limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for unfreezing Iranian assets and reopening Iran to international trade, should bolster foreign direct investment, increase trade, and stimulate growth. In spite of RUHANI’s efforts, Iran’s growth was tepid in 2015, and significant economic improvement resulting from sanctions relief will take months or years to materialize.
During 2015, worsening security and financial stability throughout Iraq - driven by an ongoing insurgency, decreasing oil prices, and political upheaval - decreased prospects for improving the country's economic environment and securing much-needed foreign investment. Long-term fiscal health, a strengthened investment climate, and sustained improvements in the overall standard of living still depend on a rebound in global oil prices, the central government passing major policy reforms, and finishing the conflict with ISIL.|
Iraq's largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides more than 90% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil exports in 2015 averaged 3.0 million barrels per day, up from 2014, but a failed revenue- and oil-sharing agreement with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's (IKR) autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) resulted in a loss of exports from northern oil fields. Moreover, falling global oil prices resulted in declining export revenues. Iraq's contracts with major oil companies have the potential to further expand oil exports and revenues, but Iraq will need to make significant upgrades to its oil processing, pipeline, and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their economic potential. The IKR's autonomous KRG passed its own oil law in 2007, and has directly signed about 50 contracts to develop IKR energy reserves. The federal government has disputed the legal authority of the KRG to conclude most of these contracts, some of which are also in areas with unresolved administrative boundaries in dispute between the federal and regional government. In December 2014, the federal government and the KRG agreed to sell oil exports from Kurdish-controlled oilfields under the federal oil ministry, in exchange for the central government paying $1 billion to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and resuming budget transfers to the KRG that amount to 17% of Iraq's national budget. However, that deal fell apart in 2015.
Iraq is making slow progress enacting laws and developing the institutions needed to implement economic policy, and political reforms are still needed to assuage investors' concerns regarding the uncertain business climate. The Government of Iraq is eager to attract additional foreign direct investment, but it faces a number of obstacles, including a tenuous political system and concerns about security and societal stability. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, insufficient essential services, skilled labor shortages, and antiquated commercial laws stifle investment and continue to constrain growth of private, nonoil sectors. Under the Iraqi constitution, some competencies relevant to the overall investment climate are either shared by the federal government and the regions or are devolved entirely to local governments. Investment in the IKR operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Investment Law (Law 4 of 2006) and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, which is designed to provide incentives to help economic development in areas under the authority of the KRG.
Inflation has remained under control since 2006. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard-pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into an improved standard of living for the Iraqi populace. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country despite a bloated public sector. Encouraging private enterprise through deregulation would make it easier for Iraqi citizens and foreign investors to start new businesses. Rooting out corruption and implementing reforms - such as restructuring banks and developing the private sector - would be important steps in this direction.
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002.|
GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply during the world financial crisis and the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit from efforts to stabilize its fragile banking sector, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. These measures were not sufficient to stabilize Ireland’s public finances. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP - the world's largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP. In late 2010, the former COWEN government agreed to a $92 billion loan package from the EU and IMF to help Dublin recapitalize Ireland’s banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. In March 2011, the KENNY government intensified austerity measures to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF bailout program.
In late 2013, Ireland formally exited its EU-IMF bailout program, benefiting from its strict adherence to deficit-reduction targets and success in refinancing a large amount of banking-related debt. In 2014, the economy rapidly picked up and GDP grew by 5.2%. The recovering economy assisted lowering the deficit to 2.5% of GDP. In late 2014, the government introduced a fiscally neutral budget, marking the end of the austerity program. Continued growth of tax receipts has allowed the government to lower some taxes and increase public spending while keeping to its deficit-reduction targets. In 2015, GDP growth reached 7.8%, the highest growth in the EU for the second consecutive year.
In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become an even more important component of Ireland's economy. Ireland’s low corporation tax of 12.5% and a talented pool of high-tech laborers have been key factors in encouraging business investment. Loose tax residency requirements made Ireland a common destination for international firms seeking to avoid taxation. Amid growing international pressure, the government announced it would phase in more stringent tax laws, effectively closing a loophole.
|Isle of Man||
Financial services, manufacturing, and tourism are key sectors of the economy. The government offers low taxes and other incentives to high-technology companies and financial institutions to locate on the island; this 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 contributions to GDP. The Isle of Man also attracts online gambling sites and the film industry. Online gambling sites provided about 10% of the islands income in 2014. The Isle of Man enjoys free access to EU markets and trade is mostly with the UK. In October 2014, the Isle of Man signed an OECD agreement to automatically exchange some financial account information to limit tax avoidance and evasion.|
Israel has a technologically advanced free market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among its leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows.|
Between 2004 and 2013, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. Israel's economy also weathered the 2011 Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East have insulated the economy from spillover effects.
Slowing domestic and international demand and decreased investment resulting from Israel’s uncertain security situation reduced GDP growth to an average of roughly 2.6% per year during 2014-15. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel's coast since 2009 have brightened Israel's energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world's largest offshore natural gas finds in the last decade. Political and regulatory issues have delayed the development of the massive Leviathan field, but production from Tamar provided a 0.8% boost to Israel's GDP in 2013 and a 0.3% boost in 2014. One of the most carbon intense OECD countries, Israel generates about 57% of its power from coal and only 2.6% from renewable sources.
Income inequality and high housing and commodity prices continue to be a concern for many Israelis. Israel's income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries, and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of "tycoons" have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. Government officials have called for reforms to boost the housing supply and to increase competition in the banking sector to address these public grievances. Despite calls for reforms, the restricted housing supply continues to impact the well-being of younger Israelis seeking to purchase homes. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers, coupled with guaranteed prices and customs tariffs for farmers have kept food prices high through 2015.
In the long term, Israel faces structural issues, including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments - the ultraorthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel's progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only about 8% of the workforce, with the rest mostly employed in manufacturing and services - sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition. Expenditures on educational institutions remain low compared to most other OECD countries with similar GDP per capita.
Italy has a diversified economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, highly subsidized, agricultural south, where unemployment is higher. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family-owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 17% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors.|
Italy is the third-largest economy in the euro zone, but its exceptionally high public debt and structural impediments to growth have rendered it vulnerable to scrutiny by financial markets. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007, topping 135% of GDP in 2015, but investor concerns about Italy and the broader euro-zone crisis eased in 2013, bringing down Italy's borrowing costs on sovereign government debt from euro-era records. The government still faces pressure from investors and European partners to sustain its efforts to address Italy's longstanding structural impediments to growth, such as labor market inefficiencies and tax evasion. In 2014, economic growth and labor market conditions continued to deteriorate, with overall unemployment rising to 12.7% and youth unemployment around 40%, but Italy began to recover in 2015, with marginal growth and a slight reduction in unemployment.
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which accounts for more than 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances and tourism each account for 30% of GDP, while bauxite/alumina exports make up roughly 5% of GDP. The bauxite/alumina sector was most affected by the global downturn while the tourism industry and remittance flow remained resilient.|
Jamaica's economy faces many challenges to growth: high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 130%. The attendant debt servicing cost consumes a large portion of the government's budget, limiting its ability to fund the critical infrastructure and social programs required to drive growth. Jamaica's economic growth rate in the recent past has been stagnant, averaging less than 1% per year for over 20 years.
Jamaica's onerous public debt burden is largely the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector. In early 2010, the Jamaican Government initiated the Jamaica Debt Exchange to retire high-priced domestic bonds and reduce annual debt servicing. Despite these efforts, debt continued to be a serious concern, forcing the government to negotiate and sign a new IMF agreement in May 2013 to gain access to approximately $1 billion in additional funds. As a precursor, the government instigated a second National Debt Exchange in 2012. The IMF deal requires the government to reform its tax system, eliminate discretionary tax exemptions and waivers, and achieve an annual surplus of 7.5%, excluding debt payments, to reduce its debt below 100% of GDP by 2020. The SIMPSON-MILLER administration now faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious crime problem that is hampering economic growth. High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence, which is fueled by the drug trade.
Jan Mayen is a volcanic island with no exploitable natural resources, although surrounding waters contain substantial fish stocks and potential untapped petroleum resources. Economic activity is limited to providing services for employees of Norway's radio and meteorological stations on the island.|
Over the past 70 years, government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) have helped Japan develop an advanced economy. Two notable characteristics of the post-World War II economy were the close interlocking structures of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, known as keiretsu, and the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding under the dual pressures of global competition and domestic demographic change.|
Scarce in many natural resources, Japan has long been dependent on imported raw materials. Since the complete shutdown of Japan’s nuclear reactors after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011, Japan's industrial sector has become even more dependent than before on imported fossil fuels. A small agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. While self-sufficient in rice production, Japan imports about 60% of its food on a caloric basis.
For three decades, overall real economic growth had been impressive - a 10% average in the 1960s, 5% in the 1970s, and 4% in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, averaging just 1.7%, largely because of the aftereffects of inefficient investment and an asset price bubble in the late 1980s, after which it took a considerable time for firms to reduce excess debt, capital, and labor. Modest economic growth continued after 2000, but the economy has fallen into recession four times since 2008. Government stimulus spending helped the economy recover in late 2009 and 2010, but the economy contracted again in 2011 as the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in March of that year disrupted economic activity. The economy has largely recovered in the five years since the disaster, although output in the affected areas continues to lag behind the national average.
Japan enjoyed a sharp uptick in growth in 2013 on the basis of Prime Minister Shinzo ABE’s “Three Arrows” economic revitalization agenda - dubbed “Abenomics” - of monetary easing, “flexible” fiscal policy, and structural reform. In 2015, ABE revised his “Three Arrows” to raise nominal GDP by 20% to 600 trillion yen by 2020, stem population decline by raising the fertility rate, and provide more support for workers with children and aging relatives. ABE’s government has replaced the preceding administration’s plan to phase out nuclear power with a new policy of seeking to restart nuclear power plants that meet strict new safety standards, and emphasizing nuclear energy’s importance as a base-load electricity source. Japan successfully restarted two nuclear reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima prefecture. In October 2015, Japan and 11 trading partners reached agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact that promises to open Japan's economy to increased foreign competition and create new export opportunities for Japanese businesses.
Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, Japan in 2015 stood as the fourth-largest economy in the world after first-place China, which surpassed Japan in 2001, and third-place India, which edged out Japan in 2012. While seeking to stimulate and reform the economy, the government must also devise a strategy for reining in Japan's huge government debt, which amounts to more than 230% of GDP. To help raise government revenue, Japan adopted legislation in 2012 to gradually raise the consumption tax rate to 10% by 2015, beginning with a hike from 5% to 8%, implemented in April 2014. That increase had a contractionary effect on GDP, however, so PM ABE in late 2014 decided to postpone the final phase of the increase until April 2017 to give the economy more time to recover. Led by the Bank of Japan’s aggressive monetary easing, Japan is making progress in ending deflation, but demographic decline – a low birthrate and an aging, shrinking population – poses a major long-term challenge for the economy.
Jersey's economy is based on international financial services, agriculture, and tourism. In 2010, the financial services sector accounted for about 50% of the island's output. 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. Tourism accounts for one-quarter of GDP. Living standards come close to those of the UK. In recent years, the government has encouraged light industry to locate in Jersey with the result that an electronics industry has developed, displacing more traditional industries. 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. In October 2014, Jersey signed an OECD agreement to automatically exchange some financial account information to limit tax avoidance and evasion.|
Jordan's economy is among the smallest in the Middle East, with insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, underlying the government's heavy reliance on foreign assistance. Other economic challenges for the government include chronic high rates of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, budget and current account deficits, and government debt.|
King ABDALLAH, during the first decade of the 2000s, implemented significant economic reforms, such as expanding foreign trade and privatizing state-owned companies that attracted foreign investment and contributed to average annual economic growth of 8% for 2004 through 2008. The global economic slowdown and regional turmoil contributed to slower growth from 2010 to 2014 - with growth averaging 2.8% per year - and hurt export-oriented sectors, construction, and tourism. Through 2014, Jordan's finances were strained by a series of natural gas pipeline attacks in Egypt, disrupting natural gas exports to Jordan, and led Jordan to rely on more expensive diesel imports, primarily from Saudi Arabia, to generate electricity.
To diversify its energy mix, Jordan has secured several contracts for liquefied natural gas and is currently exploring nuclear power generation, exploitation of abundant oil shale reserves and renewable technologies, as well as the import of Israeli offshore gas. In August 2015, Jordan completed a $2.1 billion, three-year IMF Stand-By Arrangement, which the government had entered to help correct budgetary and balance of payments imbalances. Jordan plans to expand on its fiscal reform measures enacted over the previous few years with a follow-on IMF agreement in 2016 to boost government revenues, reduce the budget deficit, and manage its burgeoning debt, brought on in part by an influx of over 650,000 Syrian refugees since 2011, which put additional pressure on expenditures.
Kazakhstan, geographically the largest of the former Soviet republics, excluding Russia, possesses substantial fossil fuel reserves and other minerals and metals, such as uranium, copper, and zinc. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. The government realizes that its economy suffers from an overreliance on oil and extractive industries and has embarked on an ambitious diversification program, aimed at developing targeted sectors like transport, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, petrochemicals and food processing.|
Kazakhstan's vast hydrocarbon and mineral reserves form the backbone of its economy. Kazakhstan is landlocked and depends on Russia to export its oil to Europe. In 2010, Kazakhstan joined Russia and Belarus to establish a Customs Union in an effort to boost foreign investment and improve trade. The Customs Union evolved into a Single Economic Space in 2012 and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in January 2015.
The economic downturn of its EEU partner, Russia, and the decline in global commodity prices have contributed to an economic slowdown in Kazakhstan, which is experiencing its slowest economic growth since the financial crises of 2008-09. Kazakhstan devalued its currency, the tenge, by 19% in February 2014, and in November 2014, the government announced a stimulus package to cope with its economic challenges. In spring 2015, Kazakhstan embarked on an ambitious reform agenda to modernize its economy and improve its institutions. In the face of further decline in the ruble, oil prices, and the regional economic slowdown, Kazakhstan announced in August 2015 that it would cancel its currency band in favor of a floating exchange rate that sparked further devaluation of the tenge. In 2015, Kazakhstan's president signed into law a new Entrepreneurial Code and a new Labor Code, both aimed at improving the business environment. Despite some positive institutional and legislative changes, investors remain concerned about corruption, bureaucracy, and arbitrary law enforcement, especially at the regional and municipal levels.
Kenya is the economic and transport hub of East Africa. Kenya’s real GDP growth has averaged over 5% for the last seven years. Since 2014 Kenya has been ranked as a lower middle income country because its per capita GDP crossed a World Bank threshold. While Kenya has a growing entrepreneurial middle class and faster growth, its economic and development trajectory is threatened by weak governance and corruption. Unemployment and under-employment are high, but reliable numbers are hard to find.|
Agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing 25% of GDP. About 80% of Kenya’s population of roughly 42 million work at least part-time in the agricultural sector, including livestock and pastoral activities. Over 75% of agricultural output is from small-scale, rain-fed farming or livestock production.
Inadequate infrastructure continues to hamper Kenya’s efforts to improve its economic growth to the 8-10% range so that it can meaningfully address poverty and unemployment. The KENYATTA administration sought external investment in infrastructure development. International financial institutions and donors remain important to Kenya's economic growth and development, but Kenya has also successfully raised capital in the global bond market. Kenya issued its first sovereign bond offering in mid-2014. Nairobi has contracted with a Chinese company to construct a new standard gauge railway connecting Mombasa and Nairobi, with completion expected in 2017. The country is in the process of devolving some state revenues and responsibilities to the counties. Inflationary pressures and sharp currency depreciation peaked in early 2012 but have since abated following low global food and fuel prices and monetary interventions by the Central Bank. Chronic budget deficits, including a shortage of funds in mid-2015, hampered the government’s ability to implement proposed development programs, but the economy is back in balance with many indicators, including foreign exchange reserves, interest rates, inflation, and FDI moving in the right direction.
Tourism holds a significant place in Kenya’s economy. Multiple terror attacks by the Somalia-based group al-Shabaab in the time since the 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, which killed at least 67, had a negative effect on international tourism earnings, but the sector is starting to recover. Kenya’s success in hosting a series of incident-free high-profile events in the second half of 2015, including the visit of US President Obama, has helped improve the outlook for tourism.
A remote country of 33 scattered coral atolls, Kiribati has few natural resources and is one of the least developed Pacific Island countries. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were exhausted by the time of independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Earnings from fishing licenses and seafarer remittances are important sources of income, however, remittances and the number of seafarers employed have declined since the global crisis. In 2013, fishing license revenues contributed close to half of government’s total revenue and total remittances from seafarers were equivalent to 6% of GDP.|
Economic development is constrained by a shortage of skilled workers, weak infrastructure, and remoteness from international markets. The public sector dominates economic activity, with ongoing capital projects in infrastructure including the road rehabilitation, water and sanitation projects, and renovations to the international airport, spurring some growth.
Kiribati is dependent on foreign aid, which was estimated to have contributed over 43% in 2013 to the government’s finances. The country’s sovereign fund, the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (RERF), which is held offshore, had an estimated balance of $668 million in 2013, equivalent to 381% of GDP. The RERF seeks to avoid exchange rate risk by holding investments in more than 20 currencies, including the Australian dollar, United States dollar, the Japanese yen, and the Euro. Drawdowns from the RERF helped finance the government’s annual budget
North Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment, shortages of spare parts, and poor maintenance. Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Industrial and power outputs have stagnated for years at a fraction of pre-1990 levels. Frequent weather-related crop failures aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, poor soil quality, insufficient fertilization, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel.|
The mid 1990s were marked by severe famine and widespread starvation. Significant food aid was provided by the international community through 2009. Since that time, food assistance has declined significantly. In the last few years, domestic corn and rice production has been somewhat better, although domestic production does not fully satisfy demand. A large portion of the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions. Since 2002, the government has allowed informal markets to begin selling a wider range of goods. It also implemented changes in the management process of communal farms in an effort to boost agricultural output.
In December 2009, North Korea carried out a redenomination of its currency, capping the amount of North Korean won that could be exchanged for the new notes, and limiting the exchange to a one-week window. A concurrent crackdown on markets and foreign currency use yielded severe shortages and inflation, forcing Pyongyang to ease the restrictions by February 2010. In response to the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, South Korea’s government cut off most aid, trade, and bilateral cooperation activities, with the exception of operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex. North Korea continued efforts to develop special economic zones and expressed willingness to permit construction of a trilateral gas pipeline that would carry Russian natural gas to South Korea. North Korea is also working with Russia to refurbish North Korea’s dilapidated rail network and jointly rebuilt a link between a North Korean port in the Rason Special Economic Zone and the Russian rail network.
The North Korean government continues to stress its goal of improving the overall standard of living, but has taken few steps to make that goal a reality for its populace. In 2013-14, the regime rolled out 20 new economic development zones - now totaling 25 - set up for foreign investors, although the initiative remains in its infancy. Firm political control remains the government’s overriding concern, which likely will inhibit changes to North Korea’s current economic system.
South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible economic growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion-dollar club of world economies.|
A system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, initially made this success possible. 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 1997-98 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing. GDP plunged by 7% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. South Korea adopted numerous economic reforms following the crisis, including greater openness to foreign investment and imports. Growth moderated to about 4% annually between 2003 and 2007.
South Korea's export focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, but quickly rebounded in subsequent years, reaching over 6% growth in 2010. The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments in 2011 and went into effect in March 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, the economy experienced slow growth – 2%-3% per year - due to sluggish domestic consumption and investment. The administration in 2015 faced the challenge of balancing heavy reliance on exports with developing domestic-oriented sectors, such as services.
The South Korean economy's long-term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, dominance of large conglomerates (chaebols), and the heavy reliance on exports, which comprise about half of GDP. In an effort to address the long term challenges and sustain economic growth, the current government has prioritized structural reforms, deregulation, promotion of entrepreneurship and creative industries, and the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Kosovo's economy has shown progress in transitioning to a market-based system and maintaining macroeconomic stability, but it is still highly dependent on the international community and the diaspora for financial and technical assistance. Remittances from the diaspora - located mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries - are estimated to account for about 15% of GDP and international donor assistance accounts for approximately 10% of GDP. With international assistance, Kosovo has been able to privatize a majority of its state-owned enterprises.|
Kosovo's citizens are the poorest in Europe with a per capita GDP (PPP) of $8,000 in 2014. An unemployment rate of 31%, and a youth unemployment rate near 60%, in a country where the average age is 26, encourages emigration and fuels a significant informal, unreported economy. Most of Kosovo's population lives in rural towns outside of the capital, Pristina. Inefficient, near-subsistence farming is common - the result of small plots, limited mechanization, and a lack of technical expertise. Kosovo enjoys lower labor costs than the rest of the region. However, high levels of corruption, little contract enforcement, and unreliable electricity supply have discouraged potential investors.
Minerals and metals production - including lignite, lead, zinc, nickel, chrome, aluminum, magnesium, and a wide variety of construction materials - once the backbone of industry, has declined because of ageing equipment and insufficient investment. A limited and unreliable electricity supply is a major impediment to economic development, but Kosovo has received technical assistance to help improve the sector’s performance. In 2012, Kosovo privatized its electricity supply and distribution network. The US Government is cooperating with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and the World Bank to conclude a commercial tender for the construction of a new power plant, Kosovo C. MED also has plans for the rehabilitation of an older coal power plant, Kosovo B, and the development of a coal mine that could supply both plants.
In June 2009, Kosovo joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and began servicing its share of the former Yugoslavia's debt. In order to help integrate Kosovo into regional economic structures, UNMIK signed (on behalf of Kosovo) its accession to the Central Europe Free Trade Area (CEFTA) in 2006. Serbia and Bosnia previously had refused to recognize Kosovo's customs stamp or extend reduced tariff privileges for Kosovo products under CEFTA, but both countries resumed trade with Kosovo in 2011. Kosovo joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2012 and the Council of Europe Development Bank in 2013. In 2014, Kosovo concluded the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations (SAA) with the EU, focused on trade liberalization, and signed it into law in 2015. In 2015, Kosovo negotiated a $185 million Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF following the conclusion of its previous SBA in 2014. The official currency of Kosovo is the euro, but the Serbian dinar is also used illegally in Serb majority communities. Kosovo's tie to the euro has helped keep core inflation low.
Kosovo experienced its first federal budget deficit in 2012, when government expenditures climbed sharply. In May 2014, the government introduced a 25% salary increase for public sector employees and an equal increase in certain social benefits. Central revenues could not sustain these increases, and the government was forced to reduce its planned capital investments. The government, led by Prime Minister MUSTAFA - a trained economist - recently made several changes to its fiscal policy, expanding the list of duty-free imports, decreasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) for basic food items and public utilities, and increasing the VAT for all other goods. In August 2015, as part of its EU-facilitated normalization process with Serbia, Kosovo signed agreements on telecommunications and energy distribution, but disagreements over who owns economic assets within Kosovo continue.
Kuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves. Kuwaiti officials plan to increase oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. Petroleum accounts for over half of GDP, 94% of export revenues, and 90% of government income.|
In 2015, Kuwait, for the first time in 15 years, realized a budget deficit after decades of high oil prices. Kuwaiti authorities have tried to reduce the deficit by decreasing spending on subsidies for the local population, but with limited success. Despite Kuwait’s dependence on oil, the government has cushioned itself against the impact of lower oil prices, by saving annually at least 10% of government revenue in the Fund for Future Generations.
Kuwait has failed to diversify its economy or bolster the private sector, because of a poor business climate, a large public sector that crowds out private employment of Kuwaiti nationals, and an acrimonious relationship between the National Assembly and the executive branch that has stymied most economic reforms. The Kuwaiti Government has made little progress on its long-term economic development plan first passed in 2010. While the government planned to spend up to $104 billion over four years to diversify the economy, attract more investment, and boost private sector participation in the economy, many of the projects did not materialize because of an uncertain political situation.
Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with an economy dominated by minerals extraction, agriculture, and reliance on remittances from citizens working abroad. Cotton, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only cotton is exported in any quantity. Other exports include gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and - in some years - electricity. The country has sought to attract foreign investment to expand its export base, including construction of hydroelectric dams, but a difficult investment climate and an ongoing legal battle with Canadian investors in the nation’s largest gold mine deter potential investors. Remittances from Kyrgyz migrant workers in Russia and Kazakhstan are equivalent to about a quarter of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.|
Following independence, Kyrgyzstan rapidly carried out market reforms, such as improving the regulatory system and instituting land reform. Kyrgyzstan was the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. The government has privatized much of its ownership shares in public enterprises. Despite these reforms, the country suffered a severe drop in production in the early 1990s and has again faced slow growth in recent years as the global financial crisis and declining oil prices have damaged economies across Central Asia.
Kyrgyz leaders hope the country’s August 2015 accession to the Eurasian Economic Union will bolster trade and investment, but slowing economies in Russia and China, low commodity prices, and currency fluctuations continue to hamper economic growth. The keys to future growth include progress in fighting corruption, improving administrative transparency, restructuring domestic industry, and attracting foreign aid and investment.
The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986. Economic growth averaged 6% per year from 1988-2008 except during the short-lived drop caused by the Asian financial crisis that began in 1997. Laos' growth has more recently been amongst the fastest in Asia and averaged nearly 8% per year for the last decade.|
Nevertheless, Laos remains a country with an underdeveloped infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. It has a basic, but improving, road system, and limited external and internal land-line telecommunications. Electricity is available to 83% of the population. Agriculture, dominated by rice cultivation in lowland areas, accounts for about 25% of GDP and 73% of total employment.
Laos' economy is heavily dependent on capital-intensive natural resource exports. The economy has benefited from high-profile foreign direct investment in hydropower dams along the Mekong River, copper and gold mining, logging, and construction, although some projects in these industries have drawn criticism for their environmental impacts.
Laos gained Normal Trade Relations status with the US in 2004 and applied for Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits in 2013 after being admitted to the World Trade Organization earlier in the year. Laos began a one-year chairmanship of ASEAN in January 2016. Laos is in the process of implementing a value-added tax system. The government appears committed to raising the country's profile among foreign investors and has developed special economic zones replete with generous tax incentives, but a small labor pool remains an impediment to investment. Laos also has ongoing problems with the business environment, including onerous registration requirements, a gap between legislation and implementation, and unclear or conflicting regulations.
Latvia is a small, open economy with exports contributing nearly a third of GDP. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly-developed, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronics industries. Corruption continues to be an impediment to attracting foreign direct investment and Latvia's low birth rate and decreasing population are major challenges to its long-term economic vitality.|
Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07, but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP plunged 18% in 2009. The economy has not returned to pre-crisis levels despite strong growth, especially in the export sector in 2011-14.
The IMF, EU, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to stringent austerity measures. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises, including 99.8% ownership of the Latvian national airline. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999 and the EU in May 2004. Latvia joined the euro zone in 2014.
Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.|
The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007, following the July 2006 war.
Spillover from the Syrian conflict, including the influx of more than 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees, has increased internal tension and slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-15, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Syrian refugees have increased the labor supply, but pushed more Lebanese into unemployment. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the fourth highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. Weak economic growth limits tax revenues, while the largest government expenditures remain debt servicing, salaries for government workers, and transfers to the electricity sector. These limitations constrain other government spending and limit the government’s ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation.
Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho depends on a narrow economic base of textile manufacturing, agriculture, remittances, and regional customs revenue. About three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in animal herding and subsistence agriculture, although Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation's demand for food. Agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability.|
Lesotho relies on South Africa for much of its economic activity; Lesotho imports 90% of the goods it consumes from South Africa, including most agricultural inputs. Households depend heavily on remittances from family members working in South Africa, in mines, on farms, and as domestic workers, though mining employment has declined substantially since the 1990s. Lesotho is a member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and revenues from SACU accounted for roughly 44% of total government revenue in 2014. The South African Government also pays royalties for water transferred to South Africa from a dam and reservoir system in Lesotho. However, the government continues to strengthen its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties and other transfers.
The government maintains a large presence in the economy - government consumption accounted for 37% of GDP in 2014 and the government remains Lesotho's largest employer. Access to credit remains a problem for the private sector. Lesotho's largest private employer is the textile and garment industry - approximately 36,000 Basotho, mainly women, work in factories producing garments for export to South Africa and the US. Diamond mining in Lesotho has grown in recent years and may contribute 8.5% to GDP by 2015, according to current forecasts.
Liberia is a low income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, gold and timber. 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. 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 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, in 2014 as the Ebolavirus began to spread, the economy declined and many businesses departed, taking capital and expertise with them. 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 will weigh heavily on public finances at the same time decreased economic activity reduces government revenue, although higher donor support will partly offset this loss.
Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, and maintaining political stability and security.
Libya's economy, almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, struggled during 2015 as the country plunged into civil war and world oil prices dropped to seven-year lows. In early 2015, armed conflict between rival forces for control of the country’s largest oil terminals caused a decline in Libyan crude oil production, which never recovered to more than one-third of the average pre-Revolution highs of 1.6 million barrels per day. The Central Bank of Libya continued to pay government salaries to a majority of the Libyan workforce and to fund subsidies for fuel and food, resulting in an estimated budget deficit of about 49% of GDP. |
Libya’s economic transition away from QADHAFI’s notionally socialist model has completely stalled as political chaos persists and security continues to deteriorate. Libya’s leaders have hindered economic development by failing to use its financial resources to invest in national infrastructure. The country suffers from widespread power outages in its largest cities, caused by shortages of fuel for power generation. Living conditions, including access to clean drinking water, medical services, and safe housing, have all declined as the civil war has caused more people to become internally displaced, further straining local resources.
Extremists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked Libyan oilfields in the first half of 2015; ISIL has a presence in many cities across Libya including near oil infrastructure, threatening future government revenues from oil and gas.
Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and the third highest per capita income in the world, after Qatar and Luxembourg. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding 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 the European Free Trade Association and the EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
Since 2008, Liechtenstein has faced renewed international pressure - particularly from Germany and the US - to improve transparency in its banking and tax systems. In December 2008, Liechtenstein signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the US. Upon Liechtenstein's conclusion of 12 bilateral information-sharing agreements, the OECD in October 2009 removed the principality from its "grey list" of countries that had yet to implement the organization's Model Tax Convention. By the end of 2010, Liechtenstein had signed 25 Tax Information Exchange Agreements or Double Tax Agreements. In 2011, Liechtenstein joined the Schengen area, which allows passport-free travel across 26 European countries.
Lithuania gained membership in the WTO in May 2001 and joined the EU in May 2004. Lithuania's trade with the EU and CIS countries accounts for approximately 87.3% of total trade. Foreign investment and EU funding have aided in the transition from the former planned economy to a market economy. The three former Soviet Baltic republics were severely hit by the 2008-09 financial crisis, but Lithuania has rebounded and become one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. Lithuania’s ongoing recovery hinges on export growth, which is being hampered by economic slowdowns in the EU and Russia. Lithuania joined the euro zone on 1 January 2015 and is under review for membership in the OECD.|
This small, stable, high-income economy has historically featured solid growth, low inflation, and low unemployment. The industrial sector, initially dominated by steel, has become increasingly diversified to include chemicals, machinery and equipment, rubber, automotive components, and other products. The financial sector, which accounts for about 36% of GDP, is the leading sector in the economy. The economy depends on foreign and cross-border workers for about 39% of its labor force.|
Luxembourg experienced uneven economic growth in the aftermath of the global economic crisis that began in late 2008. Luxembourg's GDP contracted 3.6% in 2009, rebounded in 2010-12, fell again in 2013-14, but recovered in 2015. Unemployment has remained below the EU average despite having increased from a historically low rate of 4% in the 2000s to 7.1% in 2014.
The country continues to enjoy an extraordinarily high standard of living - GDP per capita ranks among the highest in the world and is the highest in the euro zone. Luxembourg has one of the highest current account surpluses as a share of GDP in the euro zone, and it maintains a healthy budgetary position and the lowest public debt level in the region.
Luxembourg has lost some of its advantage as a favorable tax location because of OECD and EU pressure. In 2015, the government’s compliance with EU requirements to implement automatic exchange of tax information on savings accounts - thus ending banking secrecy - has depressed banking activity and dampened GDP growth. Likewise, changes to the way EU members collect taxes from e-commerce has cut Luxembourg’s tax revenues, requiring the government to raise additional levies and to reduce some direct social benefits.
Since opening up its locally-controlled casino industry to foreign competition in 2001, Macau has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment, transforming the territory into one of the world's largest gaming centers. Macau's gaming and tourism businesses were fueled by China's decision to relax travel restrictions on Chinese citizens wishing to visit Macau. In 2015, Macau's gaming-related taxes accounted for more than 76% of total government revenue.|
Macau's economy slowed dramatically in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but strong growth resumed in 2010-13, largely on the back of tourism from mainland China and the gaming sectors. In 2015, this city of 646,800 hosted nearly 30.7 million visitors. Almost 67% came from mainland China. Macau's traditional manufacturing industry has slowed greatly since the termination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. Services export — primarily gaming — increasingly has driven Macau’s economic performance. Mainland China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign has brought Macau’s gambling boom to a halt, with spending in casinos contracting 34.3% in 2015. As a result, Macau's inflation-adjusted GDP contracted 20.3% from 2014, down from double-digit expansion rates in 2010-13. Non-inflation adjusted exports of goods and services dropped 1.8% from 2014, reflecting the slowdown in gaming exports.
Macau continues to face the challenges of managing its growing casino industry, risks from money-laundering activities, and the need to diversify the economy away from heavy dependence on gaming revenues. Macau's currency, the pataca, is closely tied to the Hong Kong dollar, which is also freely accepted in the territory.
Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has made progress in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment, but has lagged the Balkan region in attracting foreign investment. Corruption and weak rule of law remain significant problems. Some businesses complain of opaque regulations and unequal enforcement of the law.|
Macedonia’s economy is closely linked to Europe as a customer for exports and source of investment, and has suffered as a result of prolonged weakness in the euro zone. Unemployment has remained consistently high at about 30% since 2008, but may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive gray market, estimated to be between 20% and 45% of GDP, which is not captured by official statistics.
Macedonia maintained macroeconomic stability through the global financial crisis by conducting prudent monetary policy, which keeps the domestic currency pegged against the euro, and by limiting fiscal deficits. The government has been loosening fiscal policy, however, and the budget deficit was 4.2% of GDP in both 2013 and 2014, gradually falling to 3.7% in 2015. By yearend 2015, public debt was 40.3%, which although low by regional comparison, is significant for a small economy.
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing roughly 80% of the population. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns.|
After discarding socialist economic policies in the mid-1990s, Madagascar followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization until the onset of a political crisis, which lasted from 2009 to 2013. The free market strategy had placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low starting point. Exports of apparel boomed after gaining duty-free access to the US in 2000; however, Madagascar's failure to comply with the requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) led to the termination of the country's duty-free access in January 2010, a sharp fall in textile production, and a loss of more than 100,000 jobs.
Madagascar regained AGOA access in January 2015 following the democratic election of a new president the previous year. In November 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a Rapid Credit Facility to Madagascar worth about $42.1 million to help the government meet its balance of payments needs. The IMF also approved a staff monitoring program to guide policy implementation and indicated that Madagascar must demonstrate the capability to sustain reforms to qualify for future requests for a credit facility.
Landlocked Malawi ranks among the world's most densely populated and least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained by policy inconsistency, macroeconomic instability, limited connectivity to the region and the world, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity. The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for about one-third of GDP and 90% of export revenues. The performance of the tobacco sector is key to short-term growth as tobacco accounts for more than half of exports.|
The economy depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor nations. In 2006, Malawi was approved for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program. Between 2005 and 2009 Malawi’s government exhibited improved financial discipline under the guidance of Finance Minister Goodall GONDWE and signed a three-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility worth $56 million. The government announced infrastructure projects that could yield improvements, such as a new oil pipeline for better fuel access, and the potential for a waterway link through Mozambican rivers to the ocean for better transportation options.
Since 2009, however, Malawi has experienced some setbacks, including a general shortage of foreign exchange, which has damaged its ability to pay for imports, and fuel shortages that hinder transportation and productivity. In October 2013, the African Development Bank, the IMF, several European countries, and the US indefinitely froze $150 million in direct budgetary support in response to a high level corruption scandal, called “Cashgate,” citing a lack of trust in the government’s financial management system and civil service. Most of the frozen donor funds — which accounted for 40% of the budget — have been channeled through non-governmental organizations in the country. The government has failed to address barriers to investment such as unreliable power, water shortages, poor telecommunications infrastructure, and the high costs of services. Investment had fallen continuously for several years, but rose 4 percentage points in 2014 to 17% of GDP.
The government faces many challenges, including developing a market economy, improving educational facilities, addressing environmental problems, dealing with HIV/AIDS, and satisfying foreign donors on anti-corruption efforts.
Malaysia, a middle-income country, has transformed itself since the 1970s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Under current Prime Minister NAJIB, Malaysia is attempting to achieve high-income status by 2020 and to move farther up the value-added production chain by attracting investments in Islamic finance, high technology industries, biotechnology, and services. NAJIB's Economic Transformation Program is a series of projects and policy measures intended to accelerate the country's economic growth. The government has also taken steps to liberalize some services sub-sectors. Malaysia is vulnerable to a fall in world commodity prices or a general slowdown in global economic activity.|
The NAJIB administration is continuing efforts to boost domestic demand and reduce the economy's dependence on exports. Nevertheless, exports - particularly of electronics, oil and gas, palm oil, and rubber - remain a significant driver of the economy. Gross exports of goods and services constitute more than 80% of GDP. The oil and gas sector supplied about 29% of government revenue in 2014. As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has previously profited from higher world energy prices, although the rising cost of domestic gasoline and diesel fuel, combined with sustained budget deficits, has forced Kuala Lumpur to begin to address fiscal shortfalls, through initial reductions in energy and sugar subsidies and the announcement of the 2015 implementation of a 6% goods and services tax. Falling global oil prices in the second half of 2014 have strained government finances, shrunk Malaysia’s current account surplus and put downward pressure on the ringgit. The government is trying to lessen its dependence on state oil producer Petronas.
Bank Negara Malaysia (the central bank) maintains healthy foreign exchange reserves; a well-developed regulatory regime has limited Malaysia's exposure to riskier financial instruments and the global financial crisis. In order to attract increased investment, NAJIB raised possible revisions to the special economic and social preferences accorded to ethnic Malays under the New Economic Policy of 1970, but retreated in 2013 after he encountered significant opposition from Malay nationalists and other vested interests. In September 2013 NAJIB launched the new Bumiputra Economic Empowerment Program, policies that favor and advance the economic condition of ethnic Malays.
Malaysia is a member of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations and, with the nine other ASEAN members, will form the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
Maldives has rapidly grown into a middle-income country, driven by tourism development. In 2015, the economy’s growth slowed to 4.8%, mainly due to lower tourism sector growth as tourist arrivals from China declined. However, the slowdown is expected to reverse in 2016. Tourism, construction, transport, and the communications sector accounted for 50% of the output on average. Tourism-related tax receipts increased by 13% in 2015 due to higher tax rates. This increase in dollar tax receipts directly led to higher usable reserves in 2015. The current account deficit widened to $400 million in 2015 due to increases in construction related imports. A large and growing fiscal deficit remains an ongoing economic challenge.|
In July 2015, Maldives’ Parliament passed a constitutional amendment legalizing foreign ownership of land; foreign land-buyers must reclaim at least 70% of the desired land from the ocean and invest at least $1 billion in a construction project approved by Parliament.
Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, increasing employment opportunities, and combating corruption, cronyism, and a growing drug problem are near-term challenges facing the government. Over the longer term Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is 1 meter or less above sea level.
Among the 25 poorest countries in the world, Mali is a landlocked country that depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. The country's fiscal status fluctuates with gold and agricultural commodity prices and the harvest; cotton and gold exports make up around 80% of export earnings. Mali remains dependent on foreign aid.|
Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River and about 65% of its land area is desert or semidesert. About 10% of the population is nomadic and about 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. The government subsidizes the production of cereals to decrease the country’s dependence on imported foodstuffs and to reduce its vulnerability to food price shocks.
Mali is developing its iron ore extraction industry to diversify foreign exchange earnings away from gold, but the pace will largely depend on global price trends. Mali’s economic performance has improved since 2013 although physical insecurity, high population growth, corruption, weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital remain hindrances to sustained growth.
Malta - the smallest economy in the euro zone - produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. Malta's economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing, and tourism. Malta joined the EU in 2004 and adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.|
Malta has weathered the euro-zone crisis better than most EU member states due to a low debt-to-GDP ratio and financially sound banking sector. It has low unemployment relative to other European countries, and growth has recovered since the 2009 recession. In 2014 and 2015, Malta led the euro zone in growth, expanding by nearly 3.5% each year.
Malta’s services sector continued to grow in 2015, with noted increases in the financial services and online gaming sectors. Malta continues to enhance its regulation of the financial services sector, and passed additional legislation in 2014 and 2015 to improve anti-money laundering oversight for financial and gaming activities. Expanding EU discussions of anti-tax avoidance measures, including the “Anti-Tax Avoidance Package” submitted in early 2016, have raised concerns among Malta’s financial services and insurance providers about passage of laws governing EU tax practices, which could have a significant impact on those sectors.
Malta’s 2015 GDP growth was bolstered by energy infrastructure investments, and revenue growth is expected to continue, supported by a strong labor market and proceeds from a citizenship by investment program equal to roughly 0.9% of GDP. Malta's geographic position between Europe and North Africa makes it a route for irregular migration. Historically, Malta's fertility rate has been below the EU average, and population growth in recent years has been largely from immigration, increasing pressure on the pension system. The government has implemented new programs, including free childcare, to encourage increased labor participation. The high cost of borrowing and small labor market remain potential constraints to future economic growth.
US assistance and lease payments for the use of Kwajalein Atoll as a US military base are the mainstay of this small island country. Agricultural production, primarily subsistence, is concentrated on small farms; the most important commercial crops are coconuts and breadfruit. Industry is limited to handicrafts, tuna processing, and copra. Tourism holds some potential. The islands and atolls have few natural resources, and imports exceed exports.|
The Marshall Islands received roughly $1 billion in aid from the US during 1986-2001 under the original Compact of Free Association (Compact). In 2002 and 2003, the US and the Marshall Islands renegotiated the Compact's financial package for a 20-year period, from 2004 to 2024. Under the amended Compact, the Marshall Islands will receive roughly $1.5 billion in direct US assistance. Under the amended Compact, the US and Marshall Islands are also jointly funding a Trust Fund for the people of the Marshall Islands that will provide an income stream beyond 2024, when direct Compact aid ends.
Mauritania's economy is dominated by natural resources and agriculture. Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Recently, GDP growth has been driven by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.|
Mauritania's extensive mineral resources include iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, and phosphate rock, and exploration is ongoing for uranium, crude oil, and natural gas. Extractive commodities make up about three-quarters of Mauritania's total exports, subjecting the economy to price swings in world commodity markets. Mining is also a growing source of government revenue, rising from 13% to 29% of total revenue between 2006 and 2013. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, and fishing accounts for about 25% of budget revenues, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.
Risks to Mauritania's economy include its recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali, as well as significant shortages of infrastructure, institutional capacity, and human capital. Mauritania has sought additional IMF support by focusing efforts on poverty reduction. Investment in agriculture and infrastructure are the largest components of the country’s public expenditures.
Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has undergone a remarkable economic transformation from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a diversified, upper middle-income economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. Mauritius has achieved steady growth over the last several decades, resulting in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure.|
The economy currently rests on sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel, and financial services, but is expanding into fish processing, information and communications technology, and hospitality and property development. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 15% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on creating vertical and horizontal clusters of development in these sectors. Mauritius has attracted more than 32,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India, South Africa, and China. Investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius’ textile sector has taken advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a preferential trade program that allows duty free access to the US market, with Mauritian exports to the US growing by 40% from 2000 to 2014.
Mauritius' sound economic policies and prudent banking practices helped to mitigate negative effects of the global financial crisis in 2008-09. GDP grew in the 3-4% per year range in 2010-14, and the country continues to expand its trade and investment outreach around the globe. Growth in the US and Europe fostered goods and services exports, including tourism, while lower oil prices kept inflation low in 2015.
Mexico's $2.2 trillion economy has become increasingly oriented toward manufacturing in the 22 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force. Per capita income is roughly one-third that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.|
Mexico has become the US' second-largest export market and third-largest source of imports. In 2014, two-way trade in goods and services exceeded $590 billion. Mexico has free trade agreements with 46 countries, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. In 2012, Mexico formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and formed the Pacific Alliance with Peru, Colombia, and Chile.
Mexico's current government, led by President Enrique PENA NIETO, emphasized economic reforms during its first two years in office, passing and implementing sweeping education, energy, financial, fiscal, and telecommunications reform legislation, among others, with the long-term aim to improve competitiveness and economic growth across the Mexican economy. Mexico began holding public auctions of exploration and development rights to select oil and gas resources in 2015 as a part of reforms that allow for private investment in the oil, gas, and electricity sectors. The second and third auctions demonstrated the capacity for the Mexican Government to adapt and improve the terms of the contracts to garner sufficient interest from investors amid low oil prices.
Although the economy experienced stronger growth in 2014-15 as a result of increased investment and stronger demand for Mexican exports, growth is predicted to remain below potential given falling oil production, weak oil prices, structural issues such as low productivity, high inequality, a large informal sector employing over half of the workforce, weak rule of law, and corruption. Over the medium-term, the economy is vulnerable to global economic pressures, such as lower external demand, rising interest rates, and low oil prices - approximately 20% of government revenue comes from the state-owned oil company, PEMEX. The increasing integration of supply chains, development of energy sectors, and government-to-government focus on trade facilitation will continue to make the North American region increasingly competitive and contribute to Mexican economic development and strength.
|Micronesia, Federated States of||
Economic activity consists largely of subsistence farming and fishing, and government, which employs two-thirds of the adult working population and receives funding largely - 58% in 2013 – from Compact of Free Association assistance provided by the US. The islands have few commercially valuable mineral deposits. The potential for tourism is limited by isolation, lack of adequate facilities, and limited internal air and water transportation.|
Under the terms of the original Compact, the US provided $1.3 billion in grants and aid from 1986 to 2001. The US and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) negotiated a second (amended) Compact agreement in 2002-03 that took effect in 2004. The amended Compact runs for a 20-year period to 2023; during which the US will provide roughly $2.1 billion to the FSM. The amended Compact also develops a Trust Fund for the FSM that will provide a comparable income stream beyond 2024 when Compact grants end.
The country's medium-term economic outlook appears fragile because of dependence on US assistance and lackluster performance of its small and stagnant private sector.
Despite recent progress, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. With a moderate climate and productive farmland, Moldova's economy relies heavily on its agriculture sector, featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco. Moldova also depends on annual remittances of about $1.12 billion from the roughly one million Moldovans working in Europe, Russia, and other former Soviet Bloc countries.|
With few natural energy resources, Moldova imports almost all of its energy supplies from Russia and Ukraine. Moldova's dependence on Russian energy is underscored by a more than $5 billion debt to Russian natural gas supplier Gazprom, largely the result of unreimbursed natural gas consumption in the breakaway region of Transnistria. Moldova and Romania inaugurated the Ungheni-Iasi natural gas interconnector project in August 2014. The 43-kilometer pipeline between Moldova and Romania, allows for both the import and export of natural gas. Several technical and regulatory delays kept gas from flowing into Moldova until March 2015. Romanian gas exports to Moldova are largely symbolic. Moldova hopes to build a pipeline connecting Ungheni to Chisinau, bringing the gas to Moldovan population centers.
The government's stated goal of EU integration has resulted in some market-oriented progress. Moldova experienced better than expected economic growth in 2014 due to increased agriculture production, to economic policies adopted by the Moldovan government since 2009, and to the receipt of EU trade preferences. Moldova signed an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU during fall 2014, connecting Moldovan products to the world’s largest market. Still, a $1 billion asset-stripping heist of Moldovan banks in late 2014 delivered a significant shock to the economy in 2015; a subsequent bank bailout increased inflationary pressures and contributed to the depreciation of the leu. Moldova’s growth has also been hampered by endemic corruption and a Russian import ban on Moldova’s agricultural products.
Over the longer term, Moldova's economy remains vulnerable to corruption, political uncertainty, weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests, higher fuel prices, Russian political and economic pressure, and unresolved separatism in Moldova's Transnistria region.
Monaco, bordering France on the Mediterranean coast, is a popular resort, attracting tourists to its casino and pleasant climate. The principality also is a banking center and has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, nonpolluting industries. 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.|
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. Monaco, however, is not a tax-free shelter; it charges nearly 20% value-added tax, collects stamp duties, and companies face a 33% tax on profits unless they can show that three-quarters of profits are generated within the principality. Monaco was formally removed from the OECD's "grey list" of uncooperative tax jurisdictions in late 2009, but continues to face international pressure to abandon its banking secrecy laws and help combat tax evasion. In October 2014, Monaco officially became the 84th jurisdiction participating in the OECD’s Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, an effort to combat offshore tax avoidance and evasion.
Monaco's reliance on tourism and banking for its economic growth has left it vulnerable to a downturn in France and other European economies which are the principality's main trade partners. In 2009, Monaco's GDP fell by 11.5% as the euro-zone crisis precipitated a sharp drop in tourism and retail activity and home sales. A modest recovery ensued in 2010 and intensified in 2013, with GDP growth of more than 9%, but Monaco's economic prospects remain uncertain, and tied to future euro-zone growth.
Foreign direct investment in Mongolia's extractive industries – which are based on extensive deposits of copper, gold, coal, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin, and tungsten - has transformed Mongolia's landlocked economy from its traditional dependence on herding and agriculture. Exports now account for more than half of GDP. Mongolia depends on China for more than 60% of its external trade - China receives some 90% of Mongolia's exports and supplies Mongolia with more than one-third of its imports. Mongolia also relies on Russia for 90% of its energy supplies, leaving it vulnerable to price increases. Remittances from Mongolians working abroad, particularly in South Korea, are significant.|
Soviet assistance, at its height one-third of GDP, disappeared almost overnight in 1990 and 1991 at the time of the dismantlement of the USSR. The following decade saw Mongolia endure both deep recession, because of political inaction, and natural disasters, as well as strong economic growth, because of market reforms and extensive privatization of the formerly state-run economy. The country opened a fledgling stock exchange in 1991. Mongolia joined the WTO in 1997 and seeks to expand its participation in regional economic and trade regimes.
Growth averaged nearly 9% per year in 2004-08 largely because of high copper prices globally and new gold production. By late 2008, Mongolia was hit by the global financial crisis and Mongolia's real economy contracted 1.3% in 2009. In early 2009, the IMF reached a $236 million Stand-by Arrangement with Mongolia and it emerged from the crisis with a stronger banking sector and better fiscal management. In October 2009, Mongolia passed long-awaited legislation on an investment agreement to develop the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) mine, among the world's largest untapped copper-gold deposits. However, a dispute with foreign investors developing OT called into question the attractiveness of Mongolia as a destination for foreign investment. This caused a severe drop in FDI, and a slowing economy, leading to the dismissal of Prime Minister ALTANKHUYAG in November 2014. The economy had grown more than 10% per year between 2011 and 2013 - largely on the strength of commodity exports and high government spending - before slowing to 7.8% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2015.
The current government has made restoring investor trust and reviving the economy its top priority, but has failed to invigorate the economy in the face of the large drop off in foreign direct investment. Mongolia's economy faces near-term economic risks from the government's loose fiscal and monetary policies, from uncertainties in foreign demand for Mongolian exports, and on Mongolia's ability to access financing. The May 2015 agreement with Rio Tinto to restart the OT mine and the subsequent $4.4 billion finance package signing in December 2015 have served to increase investor confidence but are unlikely to overcome the downward economic pressures in the short term.
Montenegro's economy is transitioning to a market system. From the beginning of the privatization process in 1999 through 2015, around 85% of Montenegrin state-owned companies have been privatized, including 100% of banking, telecommunications, and oil distribution. Tourism brings in twice as many visitors as Montenegro’s total population every year. Several new luxury tourism complexes are in various stages of development along the coast, and a number are being offered in connection with nearby boating and yachting facilities.|
Montenegro uses the euro as its domestic currency, though it is not an official member of the euro zone. In January 2007, Montenegro joined the World Bank and IMF, and in December 2011, the WTO. Montenegro began negotiations to join the EC in June, 2012, having met the conditions set down by the European Council, which called on Montenegro to take steps to fight corruption and organized crime.
The government recognizes the need to remove impediments in order to remain competitive and open the economy to foreign investors. The biggest foreign investors in Montenegro are Italy, Norway, Austria, Russia, Hungary and the UK. Net foreign direct investment in 2014 reached $483 million and investment per capita is one of the highest in Europe.
Montenegro is currently planning major overhauls of its road and rail networks, and possible expansions of its air transportation system. In 2014, the Government of Montenegro selected two Chinese companies to construct a 41 km-long section of the country’s highway system. Construction will cost around $1.1 billion. Montenegro first instituted a value-added tax (VAT) in April 2003, and introduced differentiated VAT rates of 17% and 7% (for tourism) in January 2006. In May 2013, the Montenegrin Government raised the higher level VAT rate to 19%.
Severe volcanic activity, which began in July 1995, has put a damper on this small, open economy. A catastrophic eruption in June 1997 closed the airport and seaports, 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.|
Prospects for the economy depend largely on developments in relation to the volcanic activity and on public sector construction activity. Half of the island remains uninhabitable. In January 2013, the EU announced the disbursement of a $55.2 million aid package to Montserrat in order to boost the country's economic recovery, with a specific focus on public finance management, public sector reform, and prudent economic management.
Morocco has capitalized on its proximity to Europe and relatively low labor costs to work towards building a diverse, open, market-oriented economy. Key sectors of the economy include agriculture, tourism, aerospace, automotive, phosphates, textiles, apparel, and subcomponents. Morocco has increased investment in its port, transportation, and industrial infrastructure to position itself as a center and broker for business throughout Africa. Industrial development strategies and infrastructure improvements - most visibly illustrated by a new port and free trade zone near Tangier - are improving Morocco's competitiveness.|
In the 1980s, Morocco was a heavily indebted country before pursuing austerity measures and pro-market reforms, overseen by the IMF. Since taking the throne in 1999, King MOHAMMED VI has presided over a stable economy marked by steady growth, low inflation, and gradually falling unemployment, although poor harvests and economic difficulties in Europe contributed to an economic slowdown. To boost exports, Morocco entered into a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the US in 2006 and an Advanced Status agreement with the EU in 2008. In late 2014, Morocco eliminated subsidies for gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil, dramatically reducing outlays that weighted on the country’s budget and current account. Subsidies on butane gas and certain food products remain in place. Morocco also seeks to expand its renewable energy capacity with a goal of making renewable more than 50% of installed electricity generation capacity by 2030.
Despite Morocco's economic progress, the country suffers from high unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy, particularly in rural areas. Key economic challenges for Morocco include reforming the education system and the judiciary.
At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist policies, economic mismanagement, and a brutal civil war from 1977 to 1992 further impoverished the country. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, propelled the country’s GDP from $4 billion in 1993, following the war, to about $34 billion in 2015. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities.|
In spite of these gains, more than half the population remains below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force. Citizens rioted in September 2010 after fuel, water, electricity, and bread price increases were announced. In an attempt to lessen the negative impact on the population, the government implemented subsidies, decreased taxes and tariffs, and instituted other fiscal measures.
A substantial trade imbalance persists, although aluminum production from the Mozal Aluminum Smelter has significantly boosted export earnings in recent years. In 2012, The Mozambican Government took over Portugal's last remaining share in the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectricity Company, a significant contributor to the Southern African Power Pool. The government has plans to expand the Cahora Bassa Dam and build additional dams to increase its electricity exports and fulfill the needs of its burgeoning domestic industries.
Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt was reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives. However, in 2013, the Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM) issued an $850 million bond fully guaranteed by the Mozambican government primarily for the purpose of purchasing tuna boats. The government is attempting to reschedule this debt, in the expectation that a pending deal with a consortium led by a US company will provide enough revenue to pay off this debt. The pending deal has the potential to transform Mozambique’s economy and dramatically increase GDP.
Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 6%-8% in the decade up to 2015, one of Africa's strongest performances. Mozambique's ability to attract large investment projects in natural resources is expected to sustain high growth rates in coming years although weaker global demand for commodities is likely to weaken expected revenues from these vast resources, including natural gas, coal, titanium, and hydroelectric capacity.
The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 11.5% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Marine diamond mining is increasingly important as the terrestrial diamond supply has dwindled. The rising cost of mining diamonds, increasingly from the sea, combined with increased diamond production in Russia and China, has reduced profit margins. Namibian authorities have emphasized the need to add value to raw materials, do more in-country manufacturing, and exploit the services market, especially in the logistics and transportation sectors.|
Namibia is the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. The Chinese owned Husab uranium mine in expected to start producing uranium ore in 2017. Once the Husab mine reaches full production, Namibia is expected to become the world’s second-largest producer of uranium. Namibia also produces large quantities of zinc and is a smaller producer of gold and copper. The mining and quarrying sectors employ 2% of the population. Namibia's economy remains vulnerable to world commodity price fluctuations, and drought.
Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages can be a problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world's most unequal income distributions. A priority of the current government is poverty eradication.
A five-year, Millennium Challenge Corporation compact ended in September 2014. As an upper middle income country, Namibia is ineligible for a second compact. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Namibia receives 30%-40% of its revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Volatility in the size of Namibia's annual SACU allotment complicates budget planning.
Revenues of this tiny island - a coral atoll with a land area of 21 square kilometers - traditionally have come from exports of phosphates. Few other resources exist, with most necessities being imported, mainly from Australia, its former occupier and later major source of support. Primary reserves of phosphates were exhausted and mining ceased in 2006, but mining of a deeper layer of "secondary phosphate" in the interior of the island began the following year. The secondary phosphate deposits may last another 30 years. Earnings from Nauru’s export of phosphate remains an important source of income. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist; estimates of Nauru's GDP vary widely.|
The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income were invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future.
Although revenue sources for government are limited, the opening of the Australian Regional Processing Center for asylum seekers since 2012 has sparked growth in the economy. Revenue derived from fishing licenses under the "vessel day scheme" has also boosted government income. Housing, hospitals, and other capital plant are deteriorating. The cost to Australia of keeping the government and economy afloat continues to climb.
Subsistence fishing and commercial trawling occur within refuge waters.|
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line. Nepal is heavily dependent on remittances, which amount to as much as 29% of GDP. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for almost 70% of the population and accounting for about one-third of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural products, including pulses, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain.|
Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower, with an estimated 42,000 MW of commercially feasible capacity. Nepal and India signed trade and investment agreements in 2014 that increase Nepal’s hydropower potential, but political uncertainty and a difficult business climate have hampered foreign investment.
Nepal was hit by massive earthquakes in early 2015, which damaged or destroyed infrastructure and homes and set back economic development. Political gridlock in the past several years and recent public protests, predominantly in the southern Tarai region, have hindered post-earthquake recovery and prevented much-needed economic reform. Additional challenges to Nepal's growth include its landlocked geographic location, persistent power shortages, and underdeveloped transportation infrastructure.
The Netherlands, the sixth-largest economy in the European Union, plays an important role as a European transportation hub, with a persistently high trade surplus, stable industrial relations, and moderate unemployment. Industry focuses on food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs only 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for food-processing and underpins the country’s status as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter.|
The Netherlands is part of the euro zone, and as such, its monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank. The Dutch financial sector is highly concentrated, with four commercial banks possessing over 90% of banking assets. The sector suffered as a result of the global financial crisis and required billions of dollars of government support, but the European Banking Authority completed stringent reviews in 2014 and deemed Dutch banks to be well-capitalized. To address the 2009 and 2010 economic downturns, the government sought to stimulate the domestic economy by accelerating infrastructure programs, offering corporate tax breaks for employers to retain workers, and expanding export credits. The stimulus programs and bank bailouts, however, resulted in a government budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP in 2010 that contrasted sharply with a surplus of 0.7% in 2008.
The government of Prime Minister Mark RUTTE has since implemented significant austerity measures to improve public finances and has instituted broad structural reforms in key policy areas, including the labor market, the housing sector, the energy market, and the pension system. As a result, the government budget deficit at the end of 2015 dropped to 2% of GDP. Following a protracted recession during which unemployment doubled to 7.4% and household consumption contracted for nearly three consecutive years, 2014 saw fragile GDP growth of 1% and a rise in most economic indicators. Growth picked up in 2015 as households boosted purchases through reduced saving. Drivers of growth included increased exports and business investments, as well as newly invigorated household consumption.
New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel reserves. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, substantial financial support from France - equal to more than 15% of GDP - and tourism are keys to the health of the economy.|
During 2009-10, France sent more development assistance to New Caledonia than to any of its other overseas territories. In October 2014, French Prime Minster Manuel VALLS confirmed financial support to New Caledonia totaling $500 million for the period 2016-20. The new government, which inherited a $112 million deficit in 2013, is expected to focus on bringing the territory’s budget back into balance.
Substantial new investment in the nickel industry — including two major new plants - combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, has brightened the economic outlook for the next several years. In 2015, New Caledonia helped fill China’s shortfall in nickel supplies left by an Indonesian ban on nickel ore exports.
Over the past 30 years, the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy, dependent on concessionary British market access, to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes - but left behind some at the bottom of the ladder - and broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector.|
Per capita income rose for ten consecutive years until 2007 in purchasing power parity terms, but fell in 2008-09. Debt-driven consumer spending drove robust growth in the first half of the decade, fueling a large balance of payments deficit that posed a challenge for policymakers. Inflationary pressures caused the central bank to raise its key rate steadily from January 2004 until it was among the highest in the OECD in 2007-08. The higher rate attracted international capital inflows, which strengthened the currency and housing market while aggravating the current account deficit.
The economy fell into recession before the start of the global financial crisis and contracted for five consecutive quarters in 2008-09. In line with global peers, the central bank cut interest rates aggressively and the government developed fiscal stimulus measures. The economy pulled out of recession in 2009, and achieved 2%-3% growth from 2011 to 2015. Nevertheless, key trade sectors remain vulnerable to weak external demand and lower commodity prices. In the aftermath of the 2010 Canterbury earthquakes, the government has continued programs to expand export markets, develop capital markets, invest in innovation, raise productivity growth, and develop infrastructure, while easing its fiscal austerity.
Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty. Textiles and agriculture combined account for nearly 50% of Nicaragua's exports.|
The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many Nicaraguan agricultural and manufactured goods.
In 2013, the government granted a 50-year concession to a newly formed Chinese-run company to finance and build an inter-oceanic canal and related projects, at an estimated cost of $50 billion. The canal construction has not started.
Following an April 2014 statistical "rebasing" exercise, Nigeria has emerged as Africa's largest economy, with 2015 GDP estimated at $1.1 trillion. Oil has been a dominant source of income and government revenues since the 1970s. Following the 2008-9 global financial crises, the banking sector was effectively recapitalized and regulation enhanced. Nigeria’s economic growth over the last five years has been driven by growth in agriculture, telecommunications, and services. Economic diversification and strong growth have not translated into a significant decline in poverty levels, however - over 62% of Nigeria's 170 million people still live in extreme poverty.|
Despite its strong fundamentals, oil-rich Nigeria has been hobbled by inadequate power supply, lack of infrastructure, delays in the passage of legislative reforms, an inefficient property registration system, restrictive trade policies, an inconsistent regulatory environment, a slow and ineffective judicial system, unreliable dispute resolution mechanisms, insecurity, and pervasive corruption. Regulatory constraints and security risks have limited new investment in oil and natural gas, and Nigeria's oil production has contracted every year since 2012.
Because of lower oil prices, GDP growth in 2015 fell to around 3%, and government revenues declined, while the nonoil sector also contracted due to economic policy uncertainty. President BUHARI, elected in March 2015, has established a cabinet of economic ministers that includes several technocrats, and he has announced plans to increase transparency, diversify the economy away from oil, and improve fiscal management. The government is working to develop stronger public-private partnerships for roads, agriculture, and power. The medium-term outlook for Nigeria is positive, assuming oil output stabilizes and oil prices recover.
Niger is a landlocked, sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Agriculture contributes nearly 40% of GDP and provides livelihood for most of the population. The UN ranked Niger as the least developed country in the world in 2015 due to multiple factors such as food insecurity, lack of industry, high population growth, a weak educational sector, and few prospects for work outside of subsistence farming and herding.|
Since 2011 public debt has increased due to efforts to scale-up public investment, particularly that related to infrastructure. The government relies on foreign donor resources for a large portion of its fiscal budget. The economy in recent years has been hurt by terrorist activity and kidnappings near its uranium mines and by instability in Mali and in the Diffa region of the country; concerns about security have resulted in increased support from regional and international partners on defense. Low uranium prices, demographics, and security expenditures may continue to put pressure on the government’s finances.
Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources. Although Niger has sizable reserves of oil, the profitability of these commodities has been called in to question due to the prolonged drop in oil prices. Food insecurity and drought remain perennial problems for Niger, and the government plans to invest a little more in the agriculture sector, most notably irrigation. Niger’s three-year $131 million IMF Extended Credit Facility agreement for years 2012-15 was extended until the end of 2016, although formal private sector investment needed for economic diversification and growth remains a challenge, given the country’s limited domestic markets, access to credit, and competitiveness.
The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. Industry consists primarily of small factories for processing passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue.|
Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. Economic aid allocation from New Zealand in FY13/14 was US$10.1 million. Niue has cut government expenditures by reducing the public service by almost half.
The island in recent years has suffered a serious loss of population because of emigration to New Zealand. Efforts to increase GDP include the promotion of tourism and financial services, although the International Banking Repeal Act of 2002 resulted in the termination of all offshore banking licenses.
Norfolk Island is suffering from a severe economic downturn. Tourism, the primary economic activity, is the main driver of economic growth. The agricultural sector has become self-sufficient in the production of beef, poultry, and eggs.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||
The Northern Mariana Islands' economy benefits substantially from financial assistance from the US. In fiscal year 2013, federal grants accounted for 35.4% of the Commonwealth’s total revenues. A small agriculture sector is made up of cattle ranches and small farms producing coconuts, breadfruit, tomatoes, and melons.|
The Commonwealth’s economy continued to recover in 2013. Real GDP increased 4.4%, following a 2.1% gain in 2012. Economic growth in 2013 reflected increases in consumer spending and exports of services, mainly spending by foreign tourists.
Tourism continued to grow in 2013, after posting double-digit growth in 2012. The tourist industry employs approximately a quarter of the work force and accounts for roughly one-fourth of GDP. The Commonwealth is making a concerted effort to broaden its tourism by extending casino gambling from the small Islands of Tinian and Rota to the main Island of Saipan, its political and commercial center.
Norway's has a stable economy with a vibrant private sector, a large state sector, and an extensive social safety net. Norway opted out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994; nonetheless, as a member of the European Economic Area, it contributes sizably to the EU budget.|
The country is richly endowed with natural resources in addition to oil and gas, including hydropower, fish, forests, and minerals. The government manages the country’s petroleum resources through extensive regulation. The petroleum sector provides about 9% of jobs, 15% of GDP, and 39% of exports, according to official national estimates. Norway is one of the world's leading petroleum exporters, though oil production in 2015 was close to 50% below its peak in 2000; annual gas production, conversely, more than doubled over the same time period.
In anticipation of eventual declines in oil and gas production, Norway saves state revenue from petroleum sector activities in the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, valued at over $800 billion as of early 2016. The government allows itself to use up to 4% of the fund’s value, its annual expected real rate of return, to help balance the federal budget each year. After solid GDP growth in 2004-07, the economy slowed in 2008, and contracted in 2009, before returning to modest, positive growth from 2010 to 2015. Lower oil prices in 2015 caused growth to slow, increased unemployment, and weakened the Norwegian krone. The latter trend has mitigated the negative impact of lower oil and gas prices by making Norwegian exports cheaper for foreign buyers. The government has expressed willingness to increase public spending from the sovereign wealth fund to help prevent a recession.
Oman is heavily dependent on its dwindling oil resources, which generate 84% of government revenue. In 2015, low global oil prices drove Oman’s budget deficit to $6.5 billion, or nearly 11% of GDP. Oman has limited foreign assets and is issuing debt to cover its deficit.|
Oman is using enhanced oil recovery techniques to boost production and has actively pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP from 46% at present to 9% by 2020. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government's diversification strategy.
Muscat also is focused on creating more jobs to employ the rising number of Omanis entering the workforce. Increases in social welfare benefits, however, particularly since the Arab Spring, dating to 2011, have challenged the government's ability to effectively balance its budget, as oil prices decline. Omani officials intend to reduce social entitlements to cut the deficit but have faced stiff public opposition to spending cuts, hindering their implementation.
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 the US, Australia, NZ, China, and Peru. The high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with the wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has led to fluctuations in new drillings.|
Decades of internal political disputes and low levels of foreign investment have led to slow growth and underdevelopment in Pakistan. Pakistan has a large English-speaking population. Nevertheless, a challenging security environment, electricity shortages, and a burdensome investment climate have deterred investors. Agriculture accounts for more than one-fourth of output and two-fifths of employment. Textiles and apparel account for most of Pakistan's export earnings, and Pakistan's failure to diversify its exports has left the country vulnerable to shifts in world demand. Pakistan’s GDP growth has gradually increased since 2012. Official unemployment was 6.5% in 2015, but this fails to capture the true picture, because much of the economy is informal and underemployment remains high. Human development continues to lag behind most of the region.|
In coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan embarked on an economic reform program in 2013. While the reform process has been mixed, and issues like privatization of state-owned enterprises remain unresolved, Pakistan has restored macroeconomic stability, improved its credit rating, and boosted growth. The Pakistani rupee, after heavy depreciation, remained relatively stable against the US dollar in 2014-15. Remittances from overseas workers, averaging more than $1.5 billion a month, are a key revenue source for Pakistan, partly compensating for a lack of foreign investment and a slowdown in portfolio investment. Falling global oil prices in 2015 contributed to a narrowing current account deficit and lower inflation, despite weak export performance. Pakistan’s program with the IMF – a three-year, $6.7 billion Extended Fund Facility focusing on reducing energy shortages, stabilizing public finances, expanding revenue, and improving the external balance – is slated to conclude in September 2016. While passing most quantitative targets, Pakistan has missed targets on structural reforms and performance criteria throughout the program.
Pakistan remains stuck in a low-income, low-growth trap, with growth averaging about 3.5% per year from 2008 to 2013. Pakistan must address long-standing issues related to government revenues, with the tax base being narrow at 11% of GDP. Given demographic challenges, Pakistan’s leadership will be pressed to implement economic reforms, promote further development of the energy sector, and attract foreign investment to support sufficient economic growth necessary to employ its growing and rapidly urbanizing population, much of which is under the age of 25. Other long-term challenges include expanding investment in education and healthcare, adapting to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, improving the country’s business climate, and reducing dependence on foreign donors. Pakistan and China are implementing the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, a $46 billion investment program targeted towards the energy sector and other infrastructure project that Islamabad and Beijing had agreed on in early 2014.
The economy consists of tourism and other services such as trade, subsistence agriculture, and fishing. Government is a major employer of the work force relying on financial assistance from the US under the Compact of Free Association (Compact) with the US that took effect after the end of the UN trusteeship on 1 October 1994. The US provided Palau with roughly $700 million in aid for the first 15 years following commencement of the Compact in 1994 in return for unrestricted access to its land and waterways for strategic purposes. The population enjoys a per capita income roughly double that of the Philippines and much of Micronesia.|
Business and leisure tourist arrivals numbered over 125,000 in fiscal year 2014, a 13.4% increase over the previous year. Long-run prospects for tourism have been bolstered by the expansion of air travel in the Pacific, the rising prosperity of industrial East Asia, and the willingness of foreigners to finance infrastructure development. Proximity to Guam, the region's major destination for tourists from East Asia, and a regionally competitive tourist infrastructure enhance Palau's advantage as a destination.
Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Panama's transportation and logistics services sectors, along with infrastructure development projects, have boosted economic growth; however, public debt surpassed $32 billion in 2015 because of excessive government spending and public works projects. The US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2011, and entered into force in October 2012.|
Growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is estimated to be completed by 2016 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10-15% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The US and China are the top users of the Canal. In 2014, Panama completed a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion.
Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About one-fourth of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2012 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points.
|Papua New Guinea||
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain, land tenure issues, and the high cost of developing infrastructure. The economy has a small formal sector, focused mainly on the export of those natural resources, and an informal sector, employing the majority of the population. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the people. The global financial crisis had little impact because of continued foreign demand for PNG's commodities.|
Mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and oil, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings. Natural gas reserves amount to an estimated 155 billion cubic meters. A consortium led by a major American oil company is constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility that began exporting in April 2014. As the largest investment project in the country's history, it has the potential to double GDP in the near-term and triple Papua New Guinea's export revenue. An American-owned firm also opened PNG's first oil refinery in 2004 and is building a second LNG production facility. The government faces the challenge of ensuring transparency and accountability for revenues flowing from this and other large LNG projects. In 2011 and 2012, the National Parliament passed legislation that created an offshore Sovereign Wealth Fund to manage government surpluses from mineral, oil, and natural gas projects. In recent years, the government has opened up markets in telecommunications and air transport, making both more affordable to the people.
Numerous challenges still face the government of Peter O'NEILL, including providing physical security for foreign investors, regaining investor confidence, restoring integrity to state institutions, promoting economic efficiency by privatizing moribund state institutions, and maintaining good relations with Australia, its former colonial ruler. Other socio-cultural challenges could upend the economy including chronic law and order and land tenure issues.
The islands have the potential for oil and gas development. Waters around the islands support commercial fishing, but the islands themselves are not populated on a permanent basis.|
Landlocked Paraguay has a market economy distinguished by a large informal sector, featuring re-export of imported consumer goods to neighboring countries, as well as the activities of thousands of microenterprises and urban street vendors. A large percentage of the population, especially in rural areas, derives its living from agricultural activity, often on a subsistence basis. Because of the importance of the informal sector, accurate economic measures are difficult to obtain.|
On a per capita basis, real income has stagnated at 1980 levels. The economy grew rapidly between 2003 and 2008 as growing world demand for commodities combined with high prices and favorable weather to support Paraguay's commodity-based export expansion. Paraguay is the sixth largest soy producer in the world. Drought hit in 2008, reducing agricultural exports and slowing the economy even before the onset of the global recession. The economy fell 3.8% in 2009, as lower world demand and commodity prices caused exports to contract. The government reacted by introducing fiscal and monetary stimulus packages. Growth resumed in 2010, and has been erratic, although positive, ever since. Severe drought and outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease led to a drop in beef and other agricultural exports.
In addition to the agricultural challenges, political uncertainty, corruption, limited progress on structural reform, and deficient infrastructure are the main obstacles to long-term growth.
Peru's economy reflects its varied topography - an arid lowland coastal region, the central high sierra of the Andes, the dense forest of the Amazon, with tropical lands bordering Colombia and Brazil. A wide range of important mineral resources are found in the mountainous and coastal areas, and Peru's coastal waters provide excellent fishing grounds. Peru is the world's second largest producer of silver and third largest producer of copper.|
The Peruvian economy grew by an average of 5.6% from 2009-13 with a stable exchange rate and low inflation, which in 2013 was just below the upper limit of the Central Bank target range of 1% to 3%. This growth was due partly to high international prices for Peru's metals and minerals exports, which account for almost 60% of the country's total exports. Growth slipped in 2014 and 2015, due to weaker world prices for these resources. Despite Peru's strong macroeconomic performance, dependence on minerals and metals exports and imported foodstuffs makes the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices.
Peru's rapid expansion coupled with cash transfers and other programs have helped to reduce the national poverty rate by 28 percentage points since 2002, but inequality persists and continues to pose a challenge for the Ollanta HUMALA administration, which has championed a policy of social inclusion and a more equitable distribution of income. Poor infrastructure hinders the spread of growth to Peru's non-coastal areas. The HUMALA administration passed several economic stimulus packages in 2014 to bolster growth, including reforms to environmental regulations in order to spur investment in Peru’s lucrative mining sector, a move that was opposed by some environmental groups. However, in 2015, mining investment fell as global commodity prices remained low and social conflicts plagued the sector.
Peru's free trade policy has continued under the HUMALA administration; since 2006, Peru has signed trade deals with the US, Canada, Singapore, China, Korea, Mexico, Japan, the EU, the European Free Trade Association, Chile, Thailand, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, concluded negotiations with Guatemala and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and begun trade talks with Honduras, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, and Turkey. Peru also has signed a trade pact with Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, called the Pacific Alliance, that seeks integration of services, capital, investment and movement of people. Since the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force in February 2009, total trade between Peru and the US has doubled.
The economy has been relatively resilient to global economic shocks due to less exposure to troubled international securities, lower dependence on exports, relatively resilient domestic consumption, large remittances from about 10 million overseas Filipino workers and migrants, and a rapidly expanding outsourcing industry. The current account balance has recorded consecutive surpluses since 2003, international reserves remain at comfortable levels, and the banking system is stable.|
Efforts to improve tax administration and expenditures management have helped ease the Philippines' debt burden and tight fiscal situation. The Philippines has received investment-grade credit ratings on its sovereign debt under the AQUINO administration and has had little difficulty financing its budget deficits. However, weak absorptive capacity and implementation bottlenecks have prevented the government from maximizing its expenditure plans, which the administration has been working to address. Although it has improved, the low tax-to-GDP ratio remains a constraint to supporting increasingly higher spending levels and sustaining strong growth over the longer term.
Economic growth has accelerated, averaging 6.0% per year from 2011 to 2015, compared with 4.5% under the MACAPAGAL-ARROYO government; and competitiveness rankings have improved. The Philippines has not sustained steady growth in foreign direct investment, which continues to lag regional peers.
Although the economy has grown at a faster pace under the AQUINO government, challenges to achieving more inclusive growth remain. The unemployment rate has declined somewhat in recent years but remains high, hovering at around 6.5%; underemployment is also high, ranging from 18% to 19% of the employed. At least 40% of the employed work in the informal sector. Poverty afflicts about a quarter of the population. More than 60% of the poor reside in rural areas, a challenge to raising rural farm and non-farm incomes. The AQUINO administration has been working to boost expenditures for education, health, transfers to the poor, and other social spending programs. Infrastructure remains underfunded and the government is relying on the private sector to help with major projects under its Public-Private Partnership program. Continued efforts are needed to improve governance, the judicial system, the regulatory environment, and the overall ease of doing business.
Notable achievements over the past year include passage of laws that liberalized the entry of foreign banks into the country; partially relaxed the cabotage law by allowing foreign vessels to ply import and export cargo within the archipelago; and passage of anti-trust legislation. Substantial progress has also been made towards passage of a Customs Tariff and Modernization Act to meet international standards and commitments, with strong prospects of enactment into law before President AQUINO steps down from office. However, the Philippine Constitution and other laws restrict foreign ownership in important activities/sectors - such as land ownership and public utilities.
The inhabitants of this tiny isolated 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 has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and Poland's economy was the only EU country to avoid a recession through the 2008-09 economic downturn. Although EU membership and access to EU structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy since 2004, GDP per capita remains significantly below the EU average and the unemployment rate is now below the EU average.|
The government of Prime Minister Donald TUSK steered the Polish economy through the economic downturn by skillfully managing public finances and adopting controversial pension and tax reforms to further shore up public finances. While the Polish economy has performed well over the past five years, growth slowed in 2013 and picked back up in 2014-15. Poland’s new center-right Law and Justice government plans to introduce expansionary economic policies to spur long-term growth, but social spending programs are expected to lead to increased deficit spending over the medium term.
Poland faces several challenges, which include addressing some of the remaining deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure, business environment, rigid labor code, commercial court system, government red tape, and burdensome tax system, especially for entrepreneurs. Additional long-term challenges include diversifying Poland’s energy mix and sources of supply, strengthening investments in innovation, research, and development, and as well as stemming the outflow of educated young Poles to other EU member states, especially in light of a coming demographic contraction due to emigration, persistently low fertility rates, and the aging of the Solidarity-era baby boom generation.
Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community - the EU's predecessor - in 1986. Over the following two decades, successive governments privatized many state-controlled firms and liberalized key areas of the economy, including the financial and telecommunications sectors. The country joined the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999 and began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU members.|
The economy grew by more than the EU average for much of the 1990s, but the rate of growth slowed in 2001-08. The economy contracted in 2009, and fell again from 2011 to 2014, as the government implemented spending cuts and tax increases to comply with conditions of an EU-IMF financial rescue package, signed in May 2011. A modest recovery began in 2013 and gathered steam in 2014 due to strong export performance and a rebound in private consumption. Although austerity measures were instituted to reduce the large budget deficit, they contributed to record unemployment and a wave of emigration not seen since the 1960s.
A continued reduction in private- and public-sector debt could weigh on consumption and investment in 2016, holding back a stronger recovery. The prior center-right government passed legislation aimed at reducing labor market rigidity, and, this, along with sustained fiscal discipline, could make Portugal more attractive to foreign direct investment. Under the center-right government, the budget deficit fell from 11.2% of GDP in 2010 to 3.5% in 2015, reaching the EU-IMF target of 4%, but still above its EU fiscal obligations, under the excessive deficit procedure. EU-IMF financing expired in May 2014. The new center-left Socialist government, however, has signaled that it will unwind spending cuts associated with austerity while remaining within EU fiscal targets.
Puerto Rico had one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region until 2006; however, growth has been negative for each of the last nine years. The downturn coincided with the phaseout of tax preferences that had led US firms to invest heavily in the Commonwealth since the 1950s, and a steep rise in the price of oil, which generates most of the island's electricity.|
Diminished job opportunities prompted a sharp rise in outmigration, as many Puerto Ricans sought jobs on the US mainland. Unemployment reached 16% in 2011, but declined to 13.7% in December 2014. US minimum wage laws apply in Puerto Rico, hampering job expansion. Per capita income is about half that of the US mainland.
The industrial sector greatly exceeds agriculture as the locus of economic activity and income. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008. Puerto Rico's merchandise trade surplus is exceptionally strong, with exports nearly 50% greater than imports, and its current account surplus about 10% of GDP.
Closing the budget deficit while restoring economic growth and employment remain the central concerns of the government. The gap between revenues and expenditures narrowed to 0.2% of GDP in 2014, although analysts believe that not all expenditures have been accounted for in the budget and a better accounting of costs would yield an overall deficit of roughly 5% of GDP in 2014. Public debt rose to 105% of GDP in 2015, about $17,000 per person, or nearly three times the per capita debt of the State of Connecticut, the highest in the US. Much of that debt was issued by state-run schools and public corporations, including water and electric utilities. In June 2015, Governor Alejandro GARCIA Padilla announced that the island could not pay back at least $73 billion in debt and that it would seek a deal with its creditors.
Qatar has prospered in the last several years with continued high real GDP growth, but low oil prices have dampened the outlook. Qatar was the only Gulf Cooperation Council member that avoided a budget deficit in 2015, but it projects a $12.8 billion deficit, 6% of GDP in 2016.|
GDP is driven largely by the oil and gas sector; however, growth in manufacturing, construction, and financial services have lifted the non-oil sectors to just over half of Qatar’s nominal GDP. Economic policy is focused on sustaining Qatar's non-associated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for roughly 92% of export earnings, and 56% of government revenues. Oil and gas have made Qatar the world's highest per-capita income country and the country with the lowest unemployment. Proved oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for about 56 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, about 13% of the world total and third largest in the world.
Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid is accelerating large-scale infrastructure projects such as its metro system, light rail system, construction of a new port, roads, stadiums and related sporting infrastructure.
Romania, which joined the EU on 1 January 2007, began the transition from communism in 1989 with a largely obsolete industrial base and a pattern of output unsuited to the country's needs. Romania's macroeconomic gains have only recently started to spur creation of a middle class and to address Romania's widespread poverty. Corruption and red tape continue to permeate the business environment.|
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Romania signed a $26 billion emergency assistance package from the IMF, the EU, and other international lenders, but GDP contracted until 2011. In March 2011, Romania and the IMF/EU/World Bank signed a 24-month precautionary standby agreement, worth $6.6 billion, to promote fiscal discipline, encourage progress on structural reforms, and strengthen financial sector stability; no funds were drawn. In September 2013, Romanian authorities and the IMF/EU agreed to a follow-on standby agreement, worth $5.4 billion, to continue with reforms. This agreement expired in September 2015, and no funds were drawn. Progress on structural reforms has been uneven, and the economy still is vulnerable to external shocks.
Economic growth rebounded in 2013-15, driven by strong industrial exports and excellent agricultural harvests, and the fiscal deficit was reduced substantially. Industry outperformed other sectors of the economy in 2015. Exports remained an engine of economic growth, led by trade with the EU, which accounts for roughly 70% of Romania trade. Domestic demand was a second driver, due to the mid-2015 cut, from 24% to 9%, of the VAT levied upon foodstuffs. In 2015, the government of Romania succeeded in meeting its annual target for the budget deficit, the external deficit remained low, even if it rose due to increasing imports. For the first time since 1989, inflation turned into deflation, allowing for a gradual loosening of monetary policy throughout the period.
An aging population, significant tax evasion, insufficient health care, and an aggressive loosening of the fiscal package jeopardize the low fiscal deficit and public debt and are the economy's top vulnerabilities.
Russia has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a centrally planned economy towards a more market-based system. Both economic growth and reform have stalled in recent years, however, and Russia remains a predominantly statist economy with a high concentration of wealth in officials' hands. Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with notable exceptions in the energy, transportation, banking, and defense-related sectors. The protection of property rights is still weak, and the state continues to interfere in the free operation of the private sector.|
Russia is one of the world's leading producers of oil and natural gas, and is also a top exporter of metals such as steel and primary aluminum. Russia's reliance on commodity exports makes it vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that follow the volatile swings in global prices.
The economy, which had averaged 7% growth during 1998-2008 as oil prices rose rapidly, has seen diminishing growth rates since then due to the exhaustion of Russia’s commodity-based growth model.
A combination of falling oil prices, international sanctions, and structural limitations pushed Russia into a deep recession in 2015, with the GDP falling by close to 4%. Most economists expect this downturn will continue through 2016. Government support for import substitution has increased recently in an effort to diversify the economy away from extractive industries. Although the Russian Ministry of Economic Development is forecasting a modest growth of 0.7% for 2016 as a whole, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is more pessimistic and expects the recovery to begin later in the year and a decline of 0.5% to 1.0% for the full year. Russia is heavily dependent on the movement of world commodity prices and the CBR estimates that if oil prices remain below $40 per barrel beyond 2016, the resulting shock would cause GDP to fall by up to 5%.
Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture and some mineral and agro-processing. Tourism, minerals, coffee and tea are Rwanda's main sources of foreign exchange. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with demand, requiring food imports. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap private sector growth.|
The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and temporarily stalled the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels. GDP has rebounded with an average annual growth of 7%-8% since 2003 and inflation has been reduced to single digits. Nonetheless, in 2015, 39% of the population lived below the poverty line, according to government statistics, compared to 57% in 2006.
Africa's most densely populated country is trying to overcome the limitations of its small, landlocked economy by leveraging regional trade; Rwanda joined the East African Community and is aligning its budget, trade, and immigration policies with its regional partners. The government has embraced an expansionary fiscal policy to reduce poverty by improving education, infrastructure, and foreign and domestic investment, and pursuing market-oriented reforms. In recognition of Rwanda's successful management of its macro economy, in 2010, the IMF graduated Rwanda to a Policy Support Instrument.
The Rwandan Government is seeking to become a regional leader in information and communication technologies. In 2012, Rwanda completed the first modern Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Kigali. The SEZ seeks to attract investment in all sectors, but specifically in agribusiness, information and communications, trade and logistics, mining, and construction.
The economy of Saint Barthelemy is based upon high-end tourism and duty-free luxury commerce, serving visitors primarily from North America. The luxury hotels and villas host 70,000 visitors each year with another 130,000 arriving by boat. The relative isolation and high cost of living inhibits mass tourism. The construction and public sectors also enjoy significant investment in support of tourism. With limited fresh water resources, all food must be imported, as must all energy resources and most manufactured goods. Employment is strong and attracts labor from Brazil and Portugal.|
|Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha||
The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $27 million in FY06/07 or more than twice the level of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, raising livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK.|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||
The economy of Saint Kitts and Nevis depends on tourism; since the 1970s, tourism has replaced sugar as the economy’s traditional mainstay. Roughly 200,000 tourists visited the islands in 2009, but reduced tourism arrivals and foreign investment led to an economic contraction in 2009-2013, and the economy returned to growth only in 2014. Like other tourist destinations in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis is vulnerable to damage from natural disasters and shifts in tourism demand.|
Following the 2005 harvest, the government closed the sugar industry after several decades of losses. To compensate for lost jobs, the government has embarked on a program to diversify the agricultural sector and to stimulate other sectors of the economy, such as export-oriented manufacturing and offshore banking. The government has made notable progress in reducing its public debt, from 154% of GDP in 2011 to 83% in 2013, although it still faces one of the highest levels in the world, largely attributable to public enterprise losses.
The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries. Tourism is Saint Lucia's main source of jobs and income - accounting for 65% of GDP - and the island's main source of foreign exchange earnings. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area. Crops such as bananas, mangos, and avocados continue to be grown for export, but St. Lucia's once solid banana industry has been devastated by strong competition.|
Saint Lucia is vulnerable to a variety of external shocks, including volatile tourism receipts, natural disasters, and dependence on foreign oil. Furthermore, high public debt - 77% of GDP in 2012 - and high debt servicing obligations constrain the ANTHONY administration's ability to respond to adverse external shocks.
St. Lucia has experienced anemic growth since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, largely because of a slowdown in tourism - airlines cut back on their routes to St. Lucia in 2012. Also, St. Lucia introduced a value added tax in 2012 of 15%, becoming the last country in the Eastern Caribbean to do so. In 2013, the government introduced a National Competitiveness and Productivity Council to address St. Lucia's high public wages and lack of productivity.
The economy of Saint Martin centers on tourism with 85% of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported, primarily from Mexico and the US. Saint Martin is reported to have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.|
|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. France heavily subsidizes the islands to the great betterment of living standards.
The government hopes an expansion of tourism will boost economic prospects. Fish farming, crab fishing, and agriculture are being developed to diversify the local economy. Recent test drilling for oil may pave the way for development of the energy sector.
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||
Success of the economy hinges upon seasonal variations in agriculture, tourism, and construction activity as well as remittances. Much of the workforce is employed in banana production and tourism, but persistent high unemployment has prompted many to leave the islands. Saint Vincent is home to a small offshore banking sector and has moved to adopt international regulatory standards.|
This lower-middle-income country is vulnerable to natural disasters - tropical storms wiped out substantial portions of crops in 1994, 1995, and 2002. Floods and mudslides caused by unseasonable rainfall in 2013, caused substantial damage to infrastructure, homes, and crops, which the World Bank estimated at US$112 million. The government's ability to invest in social programs and respond to external shocks is constrained by its high public debt burden, which was 67% of GDP - one of the lowest levels in the Eastern Caribbean - at the end of 2013.
In 2013, the islands had more than 200,000 tourist arrivals, mostly to the Grenadines. Arrivals represented a marginal increase from 2012 but remain 26% below St. Vincent's 2009 peak. Weak recovery in the tourism and construction sectors limited growth in 2015.
The economy of Samoa has traditionally been dependent on development aid, family remittances from overseas, tourism, agriculture, and fishing. It has a nominal GDP of $780 million. Agriculture, including fishing, employs roughly two-thirds of the labor force and furnishes 90% of exports, featuring fish, coconut oil, nonu products, and taro. The manufacturing sector mainly processes agricultural products. One factory in the Foreign Trade Zone employs 1,000 people to make automobile electrical harnesses for an assembly plant in Australia, and accounts for 65% of total exports. Industry accounts for nearly 15% of GDP while employing less than 6% of the work force. The service sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of GDP and employs approximately 50% of the labor force. Tourism is an expanding sector accounting for 25% of GDP; 132,000 tourists visited the islands in 2013.|
The country is vulnerable to devastating storms. In September 2009, an earthquake and the resulting tsunami severely damaged Samoa and nearby American Samoa, disrupting transportation and power generation, and resulting in about 200 deaths. In December 2012, extensive flooding and wind damage from Tropical Cyclone Evan killed four people, displaced over 6,000, and damaged or destroyed an estimated 1,500 homes on Samoa's Upolu Island.
The Samoan Government has called for deregulation of the country's financial sector, encouragement of investment, and continued fiscal discipline, while at the same time protecting the environment. Foreign reserves are relatively healthy and inflation is low, but external debt is approximately 55% of GDP. Samoa became the 155th member of the WTO in May 2012, and graduated from least developed country (LDC) status in January 2014.
San Marino's economy relies heavily on tourism, banking, and the manufacture and export of ceramics, clothing, fabrics, furniture, paints, spirits, tiles, and wine. The manufacturing and financial sectors account for more than half of San Marino's GDP. The per capita level of output and standard of living are comparable to those of the most prosperous regions of Italy.|
San Marino's economy has been contracting since 2008, largely due to weakened demand from Italy - which accounts for nearly 90% of its export market - and financial sector consolidation. Difficulties in the banking sector, the recent global economic downturn, and the sizable decline in tax revenues have contributed to negative real GDP growth. The government has adopted measures to counter the downturn, including subsidized credit to businesses and is seeking to shift its growth model away from a reliance on bank and tax secrecy. San Marino does not issue public debt securities; when necessary, it finances deficits by drawing down central bank deposits.
The economy benefits from foreign investment due to its relatively low corporate taxes and low taxes on interest earnings. The income tax rate is also very low, about one-third the average EU level. San Marino continues to work towards harmonizing its fiscal laws with EU and international standards. In September 2009, the OECD removed San Marino from its list of tax havens that have yet to fully adopt global tax standards, and in 2010 San Marino signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements with most major countries. In 2013, the San Marino Government signed a Double Taxation Agreement with Italy, but a referendum on EU membership failed to reach the quorum needed to bring it to a vote.
|Sao Tome and Principe||
This small, poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence in 1975. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement. Sao Tome and Principe has to import fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and food, making it vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices. Maintaining control of inflation, fiscal discipline, and increasing flows of foreign direct investment into the oil sector are major economic problems facing the country. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies.|
Over the years, Sao Tome and Principe has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. It benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries program, which helped bring down the country's $300 million debt burden. In August 2005, the government signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program worth $4.3 million. In April 2011, the country completed a Threshold Country Program with The Millennium Challenge Corporation to help increase tax revenues, reform customs, and improve the business environment.
Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. Potential also exists for the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome and Principe's territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria, but any actual production is at least several years off.
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.|
Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Over 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors; at the same time, however, Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population, which generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs.
In 2015, the Kingdom incurred a budget deficit estimated at 13% of GDP, and it faces a deficit of $87 billion in 2016, which will be financed by bond sales and drawing down reserves. Although the Kingdom can finance high deficits for several years by drawing down its considerable foreign assets or by borrowing, it has announced plans to cut capital spending in 2016. Some of these plans to cut deficits include introducing a value-added tax and reducing subsidies on electricity, water, and petroleum products. In January 2016, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced that Saudi Arabia intends to list shares of its state-owned petroleum company, ARAMCO - another move to increase revenue and outside investment. The government has also looked at privatization and diversification of the economy more closely in the wake of a diminished oil market. Historically, Saudi Arabia has focused diversification efforts on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. More recently, the government has approached investors about expanding the role of the private sector in the healthcare, education and tourism industries. While Saudi Arabia has emphasized their goals of diversification for some time, current low oil prices may force the government to make more drastic changes ahead of their long-run timeline.
Senegal’s economy is driven by mining, construction, tourism, fisheries and agriculture, which is the primary source of employment in rural areas. The country's key export industries include phosphate mining, fertilizer production, agricultural products and commercial fishing and it is also working on oil exploration projects. Senegal relies heavily on donor assistance, remittances and foreign direct investment. For the first time in the past twelve years, Senegal reached a growth rate of 6.5% in 2015 due in part to a buoyant performance in agriculture because of higher rainfall and productivity in the sector.|
President Macky SALL, who was elected in March 2012 under a reformist policy agenda, inherited an economy with high energy costs, a challenging business environment, and a culture of overspending. President SALL unveiled an ambitious economic plan, the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which aims to implement priority economic reforms and investment projects to increase economic growth while preserving macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability. Bureaucratic bottlenecks and a challenging business climate are among the perennial challenges that may slow the implementation of this plan.
Senegal is receiving technical support from the IMF from 2015-2017 under a Policy Support Instrument (PSI) to assist with implementation of the ESP. The PSI implementation continues to be satisfactory as concluded by the IMF’s second review mission in March 2016. Investors have signaled confidence in the country through Senegal’s successful Eurobond issuances in recent years, including in 2014.
The government will focus on 19 projects under the ESP for the 2016 budget to continue the structural transformation of the economy. These 19 projects include the Thies-Touba Highway, including the new airport- Mbour-Thies Highway. Senegal will increase the national family allowances program and the community development emergency program in 2016. Electricity supply is a chief constraint for Senegal’s development. Electricity prices in Senegal are among the highest in the world. Power Africa, a program led by USAID and OPIC, plans to increase the current 500 mW of generating capacity to over 1,000 mW in the next three to five years. Recent gas discoveries on the Senegal-Mauritanian border, as well as just south of Dakar, will help alleviate some of the energy shortages.
Serbia has a transitional economy largely dominated by market forces, but the state sector remains significant in certain areas and many institutional reforms are needed. The economy relies on manufacturing and exports, driven largely by foreign investment. MILOSEVIC-era mismanagement of the economy, an extended period of international economic sanctions, civil war, and the damage to Yugoslavia's infrastructure and industry during the NATO airstrikes in 1999 left the economy only half the size it was in 1990.|
After former Federal Yugoslav President MILOSEVIC was ousted in September 2000, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition government implemented stabilization measures and embarked on a market reform program. Serbia renewed its membership in the IMF in December 2000 and rejoined the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Serbia has made progress in trade liberalization and enterprise restructuring and privatization, but many large enterprises - including the power utilities, telecommunications company, natural gas company, and others - remain state-owned. Serbia has made some progress towards EU membership, signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Brussels in May 2008, and with full implementation of the Interim Trade Agreement with the EU in February 2010, gained candidate status in March 2012. In January 2014, Serbia's EU accession talks officially opened. Serbia's negotiations with the WTO are advanced, with the country's complete ban on the trade and cultivation of agricultural biotechnology products representing the primary remaining obstacle to accession. Serbia's program with the IMF was frozen in early 2012 because the 2012 budget approved by parliament deviated from the program parameters; the arrangement is now void. In late 2014, Serbia and the IMF announced a tentative plan for a precautionary loan worth approximately $1 billion, but the government will be challenged to implement IMF-mandated reforms that will target social spending and the large public sector.
High unemployment and stagnant household incomes are ongoing political and economic problems. Structural economic reforms needed to ensure the country's long-term prosperity have largely stalled since the onset of the global financial crisis. Growing budget deficits constrain the use of stimulus efforts to revive the economy and contribute to growing concern of a public debt crisis, given that Serbia's total public debt as a share of GDP more than doubled between 2008 and 2014. Serbia's concerns about inflation and exchange-rate stability preclude the use of expansionary monetary policy. During 2014 the SNS party addressed issues with the fiscal deficit, state-owned enterprises, the labor market, construction permits, bankruptcy and privatization, and other areas.
Major challenges ahead include: high unemployment rates and the need for job creation; high government expenditures for salaries, pensions, healthcare, and unemployment benefits; a growing need for new government borrowing; rising public and private foreign debt; attracting new foreign direct investment; and getting the IMF program back on track. Other serious longer-term challenges include an inefficient judicial system, high levels of corruption, and an aging population. Factors favorable to Serbia's economic growth include its strategic location, a relatively inexpensive and skilled labor force, and free trade agreements with the EU, Russia, Turkey, and countries that are members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.
Since independence in 1976, per capita output in this Indian Ocean archipelago has expanded to roughly seven times the pre-independence, near-subsistence level, moving the island into the upper-middle-income group of countries. 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 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.
In 2008, having depleted its foreign exchange reserves, Seychelles defaulted on interest payments due on a $230 million Eurobond, requested assistance from the IMF, and immediately enacted a number of significant structural reforms, including liberalization of the exchange rate, reform of the public sector to include layoffs, and the sale of some state assets. In December 2013, the IMF declared that Seychelles had successfully transitioned to a market-based economy with full employment and a fiscal surplus. Seychelles grew at 4.3% in 2015 because of a strong tourist sector and expanding private sector credits; its fiscal surplus reached 4% of GDP.
Sierra Leone is extremely poor and nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that destroyed most institutions before ending in the early 2000s.|
In recent years economic growth has been driven by mining - particularly iron ore. The country’s principal exports are iron ore, diamonds, and rutile, and the economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in international prices. Until 2014, the government had relied on external assistance to support its budget, but it was gradually becoming more independent. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, combined with falling global commodities prices, caused a significant contraction of economic activity in all areas.
While the World Health Organization declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in November 2015, economic recovery will depend on rising commodities prices and increased efforts to diversify the sources of growth. Pervasive corruption and undeveloped human capital will continue to deter foreign investors. Sustained international donor support in the near future will partially offset these fiscal constraints.
Singapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries. Unemployment is very low. The economy depends heavily on exports, particularly of consumer electronics, information technology products, medical and optical devices, pharmaceuticals, and on its vibrant transportation, business, and financial services sectors.|
The economy contracted 0.6% in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis, but has continued to grow since 2010 on the strength of renewed exports. Growth in 2014-15 was slower at under 3%, largely a result of soft demand for exports amid a sluggish global economy and weak growth in Singapore’s manufacturing sector.
The government is attempting to restructure Singapore’s economy by weaning its dependence on foreign labor, addressing weak productivity, and increasing Singaporean wages. Singapore has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production and will continue efforts to strengthen its position as Southeast Asia's leading financial and high-tech hub. Singapore is a member of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations with the nine other ASEAN members plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. In 2015, Singapore formed, with the other ASEAN members, the ASEAN Economic Community.
The economy of Sint Maarten centers around tourism with nearly four-fifths of the labor force engaged in this sector. Nearly 1.8 million visitors came to the island by cruise ship and roughly 500,000 visitors arrived through Princess Juliana International Airport in 2013. Cruise ships and yachts also call on Sint Maarten's numerous ports and harbors. Limited agriculture and local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported. Sint Maarten had the highest per capita income among the five islands that formerly comprised the Netherlands Antilles.|
Slovakia has made significant economic reforms since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. With a population of 5.4 million, the Slovak Republic has a small, open economy, with exports, at about 93% of GDP, serving as the main driver of GDP growth. Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and the euro zone in 2009. The country’s banking sector is sound.|
Slovakia has led the region garnering FDI, because of its relatively low-cost, highly-skilled labor force, reasonable tax rates, and favorable geographic location in the heart of Central Europe. However, recent increases in corporate taxes, as well as changes to the Labor Code, slow dispute resolution, and ongoing corruption potentially threaten the attractiveness of the Slovak market. Moreover, the energy sector is characterized by high costs, unpredictable regulatory oversight, and growing government interference.
With excellent infrastructure, a well-educated work force, and a strategic location between the Balkans and Western Europe, Slovenia has one of the highest per capita GDPs in Central Europe, despite having suffered a protracted recession in 2008-2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Slovenia became the first 2004 EU entrant to adopt the euro (on 1 January 2007) and has experienced one of the most stable political transitions in Central and Southeastern Europe.|
In March 2004, Slovenia became the first transition country to graduate from borrower status to donor partner at the World Bank. In 2007, Slovenia was invited to begin the process for joining the OECD; it became a member in 2012. However, long-delayed privatizations, particularly within Slovenia’s largely state-owned and increasingly indebted banking sector, have fueled investor concerns since 2012 that the country would need EU-IMF financial assistance. In 2013, the European Commission granted Slovenia permission to begin recapitalizing ailing lenders and transferring their nonperforming assets into a “bad bank” established to restore bank balance sheets. Export-led growth fueled by demand in larger European markets pushed GDP growth to 3.0% in 2014, while stubbornly-high unemployment fell slightly to 12%.
Prime Minister CERAR’s government took office in September 2014, pledging to press ahead with commitments to privatize a select group of state-run companies, rationalize public spending, and further stabilize the banking sector.
The bulk of the population depends on agriculture, fishing, and forestry for at least part of its 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. Prior to the arrival of The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), severe ethnic violence, the closure of key businesses, and an empty government treasury culminated in economic collapse. RAMSI's efforts to restore law and order and economic stability have led to modest growth as the economy rebuilds.|
Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Somalia's government lacks the ability to collect domestic revenue and external debt – mostly in arrears – was estimated at 93% of GDP in 2014.|
Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Economic activity is estimated to have increased by 3.7% in 2014 because of growth in the agriculture, construction and telecommunications sector. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal.
In recent years, Somalia's capital city, Mogadishu, has witnessed the development of the city's first gas stations, supermarkets, and airline flights to Turkey since the collapse of central authority in 1991. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Economic growth has yet to expand outside of Mogadishu, and within the city, security concerns dominate business. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually, although international concerns over the money transfers into Somalia continues to threaten these services.
South Africa is a middle-income emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; and a stock exchange that is Africa’s largest and among the top 20 in the world.|
Economic growth has decelerated in recent years, slowing to just 1.5% in 2014. Unemployment, poverty, and inequality - among the highest in the world - remain a challenge. Official unemployment is roughly 25% of the workforce, and runs significantly higher among black youth. Even though the country's modern infrastructure supports a relatively efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region, unstable electricity supplies retard growth. Eskom, the state-run power company, is building three new power stations and is installing new power demand management programs to improve power grid reliability. Load shedding and resulting rolling blackouts gripped many parts of South Africa in late 2014 and early 2015 because of electricity supply constraints due to technical problems at some generation units, unavoidable planned maintenance, and an accident at a power station in Mpumalanga province. The rolling blackouts were the worst the country faced since 2008. Construction delays at two additional plants, however, mean South Africa will continue to operate on a razor thin margin; economists judge that growth cannot exceed 3% until electrical supply problems are resolved.
South Africa's economic policy has focused on controlling inflation; however, the country faces structural constraints that also limit economic growth, such as skills shortages, declining global competitiveness, and frequent work stoppages due to strike action. The current government faces growing pressure from urban constituencies to improve the delivery of basic services to low-income areas and to increase job growth.
Fisheries in 2013-14 landed 302,960 metric tons, of which 96% (291,370 tons-the highest reported catch since 1991) was krill and 4% (11,590 tons) Patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass), compared to 15,330 tons in 2012-13 (estimated fishing from the area covered by the Convention of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which extends slightly beyond the Southern Ocean area). International agreements were adopted in late 1999 to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which in the 2000-01 season landed, by one estimate, 8,376 metric tons of Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish. In the 2014-15 Antarctic summer, 36,702 tourists visited the Southern Ocean, slightly lower than the 37,405 visitors in 2013-14 (estimates provided to the Antarctic Treaty by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, and does not include passengers on overflights and those flying directly in and out of Antarctica).|
|South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands||
Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. Harvesting finfish and krill are potential sources of income. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK, the sale of fishing licenses, and harbor and landing fees from tourist vessels. Tourism from specialized cruise ships is increasing rapidly.|
Following several decades of civil war with Sudan, industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread. Subsistence agriculture provides a living for the vast majority of the population. Property rights are insecure and price signals are weak, because markets are not well organized. After independence, South Sudan's central bank issued a new currency, the South Sudanese Pound, allowing a short grace period for turning in the old currency.|
South Sudan has little infrastructure - approximately 200 kilometers of paved roads. Electricity is produced mostly by costly diesel generators, and indoor plumbing and potable water are scarce. South Sudan depends largely on imports of goods, services, and capital - mainly from Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.
Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources. At independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan's total oil output of nearly a half million barrels per day. The government of South Sudan derives the vast majority of its budget revenues from oil. Oil is exported through two pipelines that run to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The economy of South Sudan will remain linked to Sudan for some time, given the long lead time and great expense required to build another pipeline, should the government decide to do so. In January 2012, South Sudan suspended production of oil because of its dispute with Sudan over transshipment fees. This suspension lasted 15 months and had a devastating impact on GDP, which declined by 48% in 2012. With the resumption of oil flows the economy rebounded strongly during the second half of calendar year 2013. This occurred in spite of the fact that oil production, at an average level of 222,000 barrels per day, was 40% lower compared with 2011, prior to the shutdown. GDP grew by nearly 30% in 2013. However, the outbreak of conflict on 15 December 2013 combined with a further reduction of oil production and exports, meant that GDP growth fell significantly in 2014 and poverty and food insecurity rose. South Sudan holds one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa with fertile soils and abundant water supplies. Currently the region supports 10-20 million head of cattle.
South Sudan is currently burdened by considerable debt because of increased military spending and revenue shortfalls due to low oil prices and decreased production. South Sudan has received more than $4 billion in foreign aid since 2005, largely from the UK, the US, Norway, and the Netherlands. Annual inflation peaked at 79.5% in May 2012 but declined rapidly thereafter, to 1.7% in 2014, before jumping back to 52.8% in 2015, following the December 2013 outbreak of violence. The decision in December 2015 by the central bank to abandon a fixed exchange rate and allow the South Sudanese Pound to float has not reduced inflation in the short term. Long-term challenges include diversifying the formal economy, alleviating poverty, maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving tax collection and financial management and improving the business environment.
After experiencing a prolonged recession in the wake of the global financial crisis that began in 2008, in 2014 Spain marked the first full year of positive economic growth in seven years, largely due to increased private consumption. At the onset of the financial crisis, Spain's GDP contracted by 3.7% in 2009, ending a 16-year growth trend, and continued contracting through most of 2013. In 2013, the government successfully shored up struggling banks - exposed to the collapse of Spain's depressed real estate and construction sectors - and in January 2014 completed an EU-funded restructuring and recapitalization program.|
Until 2014, credit contraction in the private sector, fiscal austerity, and high unemployment weighed on domestic consumption and investment. The unemployment rate rose from a low of about 8% in 2007 to more than 26% in 2013, but labor reforms prompted a modest reduction to 22% in 2015. High unemployment strained Spain's public finances, as spending on social benefits increased while tax revenues fell. Spain’s budget deficit peaked at 11.4% of GDP in 2010, but Spain gradually reduced the deficit to just under 7% of GDP in 2013-14, and 4.7% of GDP in 2015. Public debt has increased substantially – from 60.1% of GDP in 2010 to nearly 101% in 2015.
Exports were resilient throughout the economic downturn and helped to bring Spain's current account into surplus in 2013 for the first time since 1986, where it remained in 2014-15. Rising labor productivity and an internal devaluation resulting from moderating labor costs and lower inflation have helped to improve foreign investor interest in the economy and positive FDI flows have been restored.
The government's efforts to implement labor, pension, healthcare, tax, and education reforms - aimed at supporting investor sentiment - have become overshadowed by political activity in 2015 in anticipation of the national parliamentary elections in December. The European Commission criticized Spain’s 2016 budget for its easing of austerity measures and its alleged overly optimistic growth and deficit projections. Spain’s borrowing costs are dramatically lower since their peak in mid-2012, and despite the recent uptick in economic activity, inflation has dropped sharply, from 1.5% in 2013 to a negative 0.6% in 2015.
Economic activity is limited to commercial fishing. The proximity to nearby oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins indicate potential oil and gas deposits, but the region is largely unexplored. No reliable estimates of potential reserves are available. Commercial exploitation has yet to be developed.|
Sri Lanka continues to experience strong economic growth following the end of the government's 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The government has been pursuing large-scale reconstruction and development projects in its efforts to spur growth in war-torn and disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises, and increase agricultural productivity.|
The government's high debt payments and bloated civil service have contributed to historically high budget deficits and low tax revenues remain a concern. Government debt of about 72% of GDP remains among the highest in emerging markets.
The new government in 2015 drastically increased wages for public sector employees, which boosted demand for consumer goods but hurt the overall balance of payments and reduced foreign exchange reserves.
Sudan has experienced protracted social conflict, civil war, and, in July 2011, the loss of three-quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan. The oil sector had driven much of Sudan's GDP growth since 1999. For nearly a decade, the economy boomed on the back of rising oil production, high oil prices, and significant inflows of foreign direct investment. Since the economic shock of South Sudan's secession, Sudan has struggled to stabilize its economy and make up for the loss of foreign exchange earnings. The interruption of oil production in South Sudan in 2012 for over a year and the consequent loss of oil transit fees further exacerbated the fragile state of Sudan’s economy. Ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and the Blue Nile states, lack of basic infrastructure in large areas, and reliance by much of the population on subsistence agriculture, keep close to half of the population at or below the poverty line.|
Sudan is also subject to comprehensive US sanctions. Sudan is attempting to develop non-oil sources of revenues, such as gold mining, while carrying out an austerity program to reduce expenditures. The world’s largest exporter of gum Arabic, Sudan produces 75-80% of the world’s total output. Agriculture continues to employ 80% of the work force.
Sudan introduced a new currency, still called the Sudanese pound, following South Sudan's secession, but the value of the currency has fallen since its introduction. Khartoum formally devalued the currency in June 2012, when it passed austerity measures that included gradually repealing fuel subsidies. Sudan also faces high inflation, which reached 47% on an annual basis in November 2012 but subsided to 18% in 2015.
The economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil, gold, and alumina accounting for about 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues, making the economy highly vulnerable to mineral price volatility.|
Economic growth has declined annually from just under 5% in 2012 to 1.5% in 2015. In January 2011, the government devalued the currency by 20% and raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit. As a result of these measures, inflation receded to less than 4% in 2015.
Suriname's economic prospects for the medium term will depend on continued commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition. The government's reliance on revenue from extractive industries will temper Suriname's economic outlook, especially if gold prices continue their downward trend.
Tourism and international research are Svalbard's major revenue sources. Coal mining has historically been the dominant economic activity, and a treaty of 9 February 1920 gave 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 engaging in this are Norwegian and Russian. Low coal prices have forced the Norwegian coal company, Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani, to close one of its two mines and to considerably reduce the activity of the other. Since the 1990s, the tourism and hospitality industry has grown rapidly, and Svalbard now receives 60,000 visitors annually.|
The settlements on Svalbard were established as company towns, and at their height in the 1950s, the Norwegian state-owned coal company supported around 1,000 jobs. Today, around 300 people work in the mining industry.
Goods such as alcohol, tobacco, and vehicles, normally highly taxed on mainland Norway, are considerably cheaper in Svalbard in an effort by the Norwegian government to entice more people to live on the Arctic archipelago. By law, Norway collects only enough taxes to pay for the needs of the local government; none of tax proceeds go to the central government.
Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends on South Africa for 60% of its exports and for more than 90% of its imports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is heavily dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and worker remittances from South Africa supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland’s GDP per capita makes it a lower middle income country, but its income distribution is highly skewed, with an estimated 20% of the population controlling 80% of the nation’s wealth. As of 2014, more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.|
Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and wood pulp had been major foreign exchange earners until the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. 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 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. On 1 January 2015, Swaziland lost its eligibility for benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.
The IMF forecasted that Swaziland’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2016/2017 because of a region-wide drought, which is likely to hurt Swaziland’s revenue from sugar exports and other agricultural products, and a decline in the tourism and transport sectors. Swaziland’s revenue from SACU receipts and remittances from Swazi citizens abroad will also decline in 2016/2017, making it harder to maintain fiscal balance.
Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden remains outside the euro zone largely out of concern that joining the European Economic and Monetary Union would diminish the country’s sovereignty over its welfare system. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade.|
Economic growth slowed in 2013, as a result of continued economic weakness in Sweden’s European trading partners; Sweden’s economy experienced modest growth in 2014-15, with real GDP growth above 2%, but continues to struggle with deflationary pressure.
Switzerland, a country that espouses neutrality, is a prosperous and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world's most competitive economies.|
The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled demand for Swiss exports and put Switzerland into a recession. During this period, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy, as well as to prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland's economy began to recover in 2010.
The sovereign debt crises unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries, however, coupled with ongoing economic instability in Russia and other eastern European economies continue to pose a significant risk to the Swiss economy, driving up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safe-haven currency. In January 2015, the SNB abandoned the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro, roiling global currency markets and making active SNB intervention a necessary hallmark of present-day Swiss monetary policy. The independent SNB has upheld its zero interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc's strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country's growth outlook; GDP growth fell below 2% per year from 2011-15.
In recent years, Switzerland has responded to increasing pressure from neighboring countries and trading partners to reform its banking secrecy laws, by agreeing to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The Swiss government has also renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate OECD standards, and is openly considering the possibility of imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners.
Syria's economy continues to deteriorate amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by 62% from 2010 to 2014. The government has struggled to address the effects of international sanctions, widespread infrastructure damage, diminished domestic consumption and production, reduced subsidies, and high inflation, which have caused dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, a decreasing value of the Syrian pound, and falling household purchasing power.|
During 2014, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis and elicited a greater need for international assistance, as the number of people in need inside Syria increased from 9.3 million to 12.2 million, and the number of Syrian refugees increased from 2.2 million to more than 3.3 million.
Prior to the turmoil, Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange, but the economy remains highly regulated. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production, high unemployment, rising budget deficits, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.
Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing government guidance on investment and foreign trade. Exports, led by electronics, machinery, and petrochemicals have provided the primary impetus for economic development. This heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to fluctuations in world demand. Taiwan's diplomatic isolation, low birth rate, and rapidly aging population are other major long-term challenges.|
Free trade agreements have proliferated in East Asia over the past several years. Following the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed with China in June 2010, Taiwan in July 2013 signed a free trade deal with New Zealand - Taipei’s first-ever with a country with which it does not maintain diplomatic relations - and, in November, inked a trade pact with Singapore. However, follow-on components of the ECFA, including a signed agreement on trade in services and negotiations on trade in goods and dispute resolution, have stalled. In early 2014, the government bowed to public demand and proposed a new law governing the oversight of cross-Strait agreements, before any additional deals with China are implemented; the legislature has yet to vote on such legislation, leaving the future of ECFA up in the air as of the conclusion of President MA's second and final term in May 2016. MA portrayed ECFA as Taiwan’s key to greater participation in East Asia’s free trade networks, and has also expressed interest in Taiwan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Taiwan's total fertility rate of just over one child per woman is among the lowest in the world, raising the prospect of future labor shortages, falling domestic demand, and declining tax revenues. Taiwan's population is aging quickly, with the number of people over 65 expected to account for nearly 20% of the island's total population by 2025.
The island runs a trade surplus, largely because of its surplus with China, and its foreign reserves are the world's fifth largest, behind those of China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland. In 2006 China overtook the US to become Taiwan's second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island's number one destination for foreign direct investment. Taiwan since 2009 has gradually loosened rules governing Chinese investment on the island and has also secured greater market access for its investors in the mainland. In August 2012, the Taiwan Central Bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cross-Strait currency settlement with its Chinese counterpart. The MOU allows for the direct settlement of Chinese Renminbi (RMB) and the New Taiwan Dollar across the Strait, which has helped Taiwan develop into a local RMB hub.
Closer economic links with the mainland bring opportunities for Taiwan’s economy but also pose challenges as political differences remain unresolved and China’s economic growth is slowing. Domestic economic issues loomed large in public debate ahead of the 16 January 2016 presidential and legislative elections, including concerns about stagnant wages, high housing prices, youth unemployment, job security, and financial security in retirement.
Tajikistan is a poor, mountainous country with an economy dominated by minerals extraction, metals processing, agriculture, and reliance on remittances from citizens working abroad. The 1992-97 civil war severely damaged an already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production, and today, Tajikistan has one of the lowest per capita GDPs among the 15 former Soviet republics. Less than 7% of the land area is arable and cotton is the most important crop. Tajikistan imports approximately 60% of its food. Mineral resources include silver, gold, uranium, antimony, and tungsten. Industry consists mainly of small obsolete factories in food processing and light industry, substantial hydropower facilities, and a large aluminum plant - currently operating well below its capacity. |
Because of a lack of employment opportunities in Tajikistan, more than one million Tajik citizens work abroad - roughly 90% in Russia - supporting families back home through remittances that have been equivalent to nearly 50% of GDP. Some experts estimate the value of narcotics transiting Tajikistan is equivalent to 30-50% of GDP.
Since the end of the devastating, five-year civil war, the country has pursued half-hearted reforms and privatizations, but the poor business climate remains a hurdle to attracting investment. Tajikistan has sought to develop its substantial hydroelectricity potential through partnership with Russian and Iranian investors, and is pursuing completion of the Roghun dam - which, if built according to plan, would be the tallest dam in the world. However, the project will take at least 8 to 11 years to construct and faces financing shortfalls and opposition from downstream Uzbekistan.
Recent slowdowns in the Russian and Chinese economies, low commodity prices, and currency fluctuations are hampering economic growth in Tajikistan. By some estimates, the dollar value of remittances from Russia to Tajikistan dropped by more than 65% in 2015. The government faces challenges financing the public debt, which is equivalent to 35% of GDP, and the National Bank of Tajikistan has aggressively spent down reserves to bolster the weakening somoni, leaving little space for fiscal or monetary measures to counter any additional economic shocks.
Tanzania is one of the world's poorest economies in terms of per capita income, but has achieved high growth rates based on its vast natural resource wealth and tourism. GDP growth in 2009-15 was an impressive 6-7% per year. Dar es Salaam used fiscal stimulus measures and easier monetary policies to lessen the impact of the global recession. Tanzania has largely completed its transition to a market economy, though the government retains a presence in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, energy, and mining.|
The economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for more than one-quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the work force; agriculture accounts for 7% of government expenditures. All land in Tanzania is owned by the government, which can lease land for up to 99 years. Proposed reforms to allow for land ownership, particularly foreign land ownership, remain unpopular.
The financial sector in Tanzania has expanded in recent years and foreign-owned banks account for about 48% of the banking industry's total assets. Competition among foreign commercial banks has resulted in significant improvements in the efficiency and quality of financial services, though interest rates are still relatively high, reflecting high fraud risk. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment.
The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's aging infrastructure, including rail and port, that provide important trade links for inland countries. In 2013, Tanzania completed the world's largest Millennium Challenge Compact grant, worth $698 million, and, in December 2014, the Millennium Challenge Corporation selected Tanzania for a second Compact.
In late 2014, a highly publicized scandal in the energy sector involving senior Tanzanian officials resulted in international donors freezing nearly $500 million in direct budget support to the government. The Tanzanian shilling weakened in 2015 because of lower gold prices, election-related political risk, and outflows from emerging market currencies generally.
With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand historically has had a strong economy, but it experienced slow growth in 2013-15 as a result of domestic political turmoil and sluggish global demand, which curbed Thailand’s traditionally strong exports - mostly electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. Following the May 2014 coup d'etat, tourism decreased 6-7% but is beginning to recover. The Thai baht depreciated more than 8% during 2015.|
Thailand faces labor shortages, and has attracted an estimated 2-4 million migrant workers from neighboring countries. The Thai Government in 2013 implemented a nationwide 300 baht (roughly $10) per day minimum wage policy and deployed new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners. The household debt to GDP ratio is over 80%.
Since gaining independence in 1999, Timor-Leste has faced great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of offshore oil and gas resources has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs in part because there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste. Gas is currently piped to Australia for processing, but Timor-Leste has expressed interest in developing a domestic processing capacity.|
In June 2005, the National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of the Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of $16.5 billion, as of December 2014. Oil accounts for 90% of government revenues, and the drop in the price of oil in 2014 has led to concerns about the long-term sustainability of government spending. The Ministry of Finance maintains that the Petroleum Fund is sufficient to sustain government operations for the foreseeable future.
Annual government budget expenditures increased markedly between 2009 and 2012 but dropped significantly in 2013-15. Historically, the government failed to spend as much as its budget allowed. The government has focused significant resources on basic infrastructure, including electricity and roads. Limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these projects. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty.
This small, sub-Saharan economy depends heavily on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for a significant share of the labor force. Some basic foodstuffs must still be imported. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton generate about 40% of export earnings with cotton being the most important cash crop. Togo is among the world's largest producers of phosphate and seeks to develop its carbonate phosphate reserves.|
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 moved slowly. Togo completed its IMF Extended Credit Facility in 2011 and reached a Heavily Indebted Poor Country debt relief completion point in 2010 at which 95% of the country's debt was forgiven. Togo continues to work with the IMF on structural reforms. Progress depends on follow through on privatization, increased openness in government financial operations, progress toward legislative elections, and continued support from foreign donors.
Togo’s 2015 economic growth remained steady at 5.4%, largely driven by infusions of foreign aid, infrastructure investment in the port and mineral sectors, and improvements in the business climate. Foreign direct investment inflows have slowed in recent years.
Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. 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 people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand - about $15 million annually in FY12/13 and FY13/14 - to maintain public services. New Zealand's support amounts to 80% of Tokelau's recurrent government budget. An international trust fund, currently worth nearly $32 million, was established in 2004 by New Zealand to provide Tokelau an independent source of revenue.
Tonga has a small, open, island economy and is the last constitutional monarchy among the Pacific Island countries. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 45,000 visitors in 2013. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand.|
The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from overseas Tongans to offset its trade deficit. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, encouraging investment, and is committing increased funds for healthcare and education. Tonga's English-speaking and educated workforce offer a viable labor market, and the tropical climate provides fertile soil. Renewable energy and deep sea mining also offer opportunities for investment.
Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. The government faces high unemployment among the young, moderate inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures.
|Trinidad and Tobago||
Trinidad and Tobago attracts considerable foreign direct investment from international businesses, particularly in energy, and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. Economic growth between 2000 and 2007 averaged slightly over 8% per year, significantly above the regional average of about 3.7% for that same period; however, GDP has slowed down since then, contracting during 2009-2012, making small gains in 2013 and contracting again in 2014-2015.|
Energy production and downstream industrial use dominate the economy. Trinidad and Tobago produces about nine times more natural gas than crude oil on an energy equivalent basis with gas contributing about two-thirds of energy sector government revenue. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports but less than 5% of employment. In 2013, Trinidad and Tobago was the world’s sixth-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter and is home to one of the largest natural gas liquefaction facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The United States is the country’s largest trading partner, accounting for 33% of its total imports and taking 44% of its exports.
Trinidad and Tobago is buffered by considerable foreign reserves and a sovereign wealth fund that equals about one-and-a-half times the national budget, but the country is in a recession and the government faces the dual challenge of gas shortages and a low price environment. A projected 70% decrease in energy revenue to the government in 2016 will likely force cuts to the government budget, which has increased by 35% over the past six years.
Economic diversification is a longstanding government talking point, and Trinidad and Tobago has much potential due to its stable, democratic government and its educated, English speaking workforce. Although Trinidad and Tobago enjoys cheap electricity from natural gas, the renewable energy sector has recently garnered increased interest. The country is also a regional financial center with a well-regulated and stable financial system. Other sectors the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has targeted for increased investment and projected growth include tourism, agriculture, information and communications technology, and shipping. Unfortunately, a host of other factors, including low labor productivity, inefficient government bureaucracy, and corruption, have hampered economic development.
Tunisia's diverse, market-oriented economy has long been cited as a success story in Africa and the Middle East, but it faces an array of challenges following the 2011 Arab Spring revolution. Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia embarked on a successful strategy focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment, and tourism, all of which have become central to the country's economy. Key exports now include textiles and apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals, and phosphates, with about 80% of exports bound for Tunisia's main economic partner, the EU.|
Tunisia's liberal strategy, coupled with investments in education and infrastructure, fueled decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth and improving living standards. Former President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (1987-2011) continued these policies, but as his reign wore on cronyism and corruption stymied economic performance, and unemployment rose among the country's growing ranks of university graduates. These grievances contributed to the January 2011 overthrow of BEN ALI, sending Tunisia's economy into a tailspin as tourism and investment declined sharply.
Since its establishment in late 2014, Tunisia’s new government has faced challenges reassuring businesses and investors, bringing budget and current account deficits under control, shoring up the country's financial system, lowering high unemployment, and reducing economic disparities between the more developed coastal region and the impoverished interior. In 2015, successive terrorist attacks against the tourism sector and worker strikes in the phosphate sector, which combined account for nearly 15% of GDP, slowed growth to less than 1% of GDP.
Turkey's largely free-market economy is increasingly driven by its industry and service sectors, although its traditional agriculture sector still accounts for about 25% of employment. An aggressive privatization program has reduced state involvement in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. An emerging cadre of middle-class entrepreneurs is adding dynamism to the economy and expanding production beyond the traditional textiles and clothing sectors. The automotive, petrochemical, and electronics industries are rising in importance and have surpassed textiles within Turkey's export mix.|
Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that has brought up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian region to market. The joint Turkish-Azeri Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) is moving forward to help transport Caspian gas to Europe through Turkey, helping to address Turkey's dependence on imported gas, which currently meets 98% of its energy needs.
After Turkey experienced a severe financial crisis in 2001, Ankara adopted financial and fiscal reforms as part of an IMF program. The reforms strengthened the country's economic fundamentals and ushered in an era of strong growth averaging more than 6% annually until 2008. Global economic conditions and tighter fiscal policy caused GDP to contract in 2009, but Turkey's well-regulated financial markets and banking system helped the country weather the global financial crisis, and GDP rebounded strongly to around 9% in 2010-11, as exports returned to normal levels following the crisis. Two rating agencies upgraded Turkey's debt to investment grade in 2012 and 2013, and Turkey's public sector debt to GDP ratio fell to 33% in 2014. The stock value of Foreign Direct Investment reached nearly $195 billion at yearend 2014.
Despite these positive trends, GDP growth dropped to 4.4% in 2013 and 2.9% in 2014. Growth slowed considerably in the last quarter of 2014, largely due to lackluster consumer demand both domestically and in Europe, Turkey’s most important export market. High interest rates have also contributed to the slowdown in growth, as Turkey sharply increased interest rates in January 2014 in order to strengthen the country’s currency and reduce inflation. Turkey then cut rates in February 2015 in a bid to spur economic growth.
The Turkish economy retains significant weaknesses. Specifically, Turkey's relatively high current account deficit, uncertain commitment to structural reform, and turmoil within Turkey's neighborhood leave the economy vulnerable to destabilizing shifts in investor confidence. Turkey also remains overly dependent on often volatile, short-term investment to finance its large current account deficit.
Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Although agriculture accounts for roughly 14% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce. Hydrocarbon exports (mainly natural gas) make up 31% of Turkmenistan’s GDP, with 60% of gas exports going to China and the remainder to Russia and Iran. Ashgabat has explored two initiatives to bring gas to new markets: a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Both face major financing and security hurdles and are unlikely to be completed soon.|
Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments under presidents NIYAZOW (1991-2006) and BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 2007) have made little progress improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, and combatting corruption, limiting economic development outside the energy sector. High energy prices in the mid-2000s allowed the government to undertake extensive development and social spending, including providing heavy utility subsidies.
Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arrears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued the manat by 19%, and downward pressure on the currency continues. Turkmenistan continues to report GDP growth of nearly 10% per year and claims substantial foreign currency reserves, but non-transparent data limit international institutions’ ability to verify this information.
|Turks and Caicos Islands||
The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Most capital goods and food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than three-quarters of the more than 1 million visitors that arrived in 2013. Three-quarters of the visitors came by ship. Major sources of government revenue also include fees from offshore financial activities and customs receipts.|
Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. Only eight of the atolls are inhabited. It is one of the smallest countries in the world, with its highest point at 4.6 meters above sea level. The country is isolated, almost entirely dependent on imports, particularly of food and fuel, and vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, which pose significant challenges to development.|
The public sector dominates economic activity. Tuvalu has few natural resources, except for its fisheries. Earnings from fish exports and fishing licenses for Tuvalu’s territorial waters are a significant source of government revenue. In 2013, revenue from fishing licenses doubled and totaled more than 45% of GDP.
Official aid from foreign development partners has also increased. Tuvalu has substantial assets abroad. The Tuvalu Trust Fund, an international trust fund established in 1987 by development partners, has grown to $141 million in 2013 and is an important cushion for meeting shortfalls in the government's budget. While remittances are another substantial source of income, the value of remittances has declined since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Growing income inequality is one of many concerns for the nation.
Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing one third of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Uganda’s economy remains predominantly agricultural with a small industrial sector that is dependent on imported inputs like oil and equipment. Overall productivity is hampered by a number of supply-side constraints, including underinvestment in an agricultural sector that continues to rely on rudimentary technology. Industrial growth is impeded by high-costs due to poor infrastructure, low levels of private investment, and the depreciation of the Ugandan shilling.|
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 while encouraging foreign investment to boost production and export earnings. Since 1990 economic reforms ushered in an era of solid economic growth based on continued investment in infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, lower inflation, better domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs.
The global economic downturn in 2008 hurt Uganda's exports; however, Uganda's GDP growth has largely recovered due to past reforms and a rapidly growing urban consumer population. Oil revenues and taxes are expected to become a larger source of government funding as production starts in the next five to 10 years. However, lower oil prices since 2014 and protracted negotiations and legal disputes between the Ugandan government and oil companies may prove a stumbling block to further exploration and development.
Uganda faces many challenges. Instability in South Sudan has led to a sharp increase in Sudanese refugees and is disrupting Uganda's main export market. High energy costs, inadequate transportation and energy infrastructure, insufficient budgetary discipline, and corruption inhibit economic development and investor confidence. During 2015 the Uganda shilling depreciated 22% against the dollar, and inflation rose from 3% to 9%, which led to the Bank of Uganda hiking interest rates from 11% to 17%. As a result, inflation remained below double digits; however, trade and capital-intensive industries were negatively impacted.
The budget for FY 2015/16 is dominated by energy and road infrastructure spending, while relying on donor support for long-term economic drivers of growth, including agriculture, health, and education. The largest infrastructure projects are externally financed through low-interest concessional loans. As a result, debt servicing for these loans is expected to rise in 2016/2017 by 22% and consume 15% the domestic budget.
After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was 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 unique equipment, such as, large diameter pipes and vertical drilling apparatus, and raw materials to industrial and mining sites in other regions of the former USSR.|
Shortly after independence in August 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 by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF –encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms to foster economic growth. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy. But more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, and improving the legislative framework. From 2000 until mid-2008, Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president.
Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. Ukraine depends on imports to meet about three-fourths of its annual oil and natural gas requirements and 100% of its nuclear fuel needs. In January 2009, after a two-week dispute that saw gas supplies cut off to Europe, Ukraine agreed to 10-year gas supply and transit contracts with Russia that brought gas prices to "world" levels. The strict terms of the contracts further hobbled Ukraine's cash-strapped state gas company, Naftohaz. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports in exchange for extending Russia's lease on its naval base in Crimea.
Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated economy grew slowly from 2010 to 2014. After former President YANUKOVYCH fled the country during the Revolution of Dignity, the international community began efforts to stabilize the Ukrainian economy, including a March 2014 IMF assistance package of $14-18 billion. Ukraine has made significant progress on reforms designed to make the country a prosperous, democratic, and transparent country.
Russia’s occupation of Crimea in March 2014 and on-going aggression in eastern Ukraine have hurt economic growth. With the loss of a major portion of Ukraine’s heavy industry in Donbas and ongoing violence, Ukraine’s economy contracted by 6.8% in 2014 and by an estimated 10.5% in 2015. Ukraine and Russia have engaged in a trade war with sharply reduced trade between the countries by the end of 2015. The EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area finally started up on 1 January 2016, and is expected to help Ukraine integrate its economy with Europe by opening up markets and harmonizing regulations.
|United Arab Emirates||
The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%.|
Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. The country's free trade zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors.
The global financial crisis of 2008-09, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency and ultimately a $20 billion bailout from the UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi Government that was refinanced in March 2014.
Dependence on oil, a large expatriate workforce, and growing inflation pressures are significant long-term challenges. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to take steps to reduce its social spending, including eliminating fuel subsidies in August 2015, but the UAE has sufficient assets to cover its deficits with money from its sovereign investment funds. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on economic diversification and creating more job opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.
The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining; the UK has been a net importer of energy since 2005. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, are key drivers of British GDP growth. Manufacturing, meanwhile, has declined in importance but still accounts for about 10% of economic output.|
In 2008, the global financial crisis hit the economy particularly hard, due to the importance of its financial sector. Falling home prices, high consumer debt, and the global economic slowdown compounded Britain's economic problems, pushing the economy into recession in the latter half of 2008 and prompting the then BROWN (Labour) government to implement a number of measures to stimulate the economy and stabilize the financial markets. Facing burgeoning public deficits and debt levels, in 2010 the CAMERON-led coalition government (between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) initiated an austerity program, which has continued under the new Conservative majority government. However, the deficit still remains one of the highest in the G7, standing at 5.1% of GDP as of mid-2015. London intends to eliminate its deficit by 2020, primarily through additional cuts to public spending and welfare benefits. It has also pledged to lower its corporation tax from 20% to 18% by 2020.
In 2012, weak consumer spending and subdued business investment weighed on the economy, however, GDP grew 1.7% in 2013 and 2.8% in 2014, accelerating because of greater consumer spending and a recovering housing market. As of late 2015, the Bank of England is examining when to begin raising interest rates from historically low levels while being cautious not to damage economic growth. While the UK is one of the fastest growing economies in the G7, economists are concerned about the potential negative impact if the UK votes to leave the EU. The UK has an extensive trade relationship with other EU members through its access to the single market and economic observers have warned an exit could jeopardize its position as the central location for European financial services.
|United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges||
no economic activity|
The US has the most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $54,800. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, pharmaceuticals, and medical, aerospace, and military equipment; however, their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. Based on a comparison of GDP measured at Purchasing Power Parity conversion rates, the US economy in 2014, having stood as the largest in the world for more than a century, slipped into second place behind China, which has more than tripled the US growth rate for each year of the past four decades.|
In the US, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, businesses face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets.
Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.
The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in 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 comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.
Imported oil accounts for nearly 55% of US consumption and oil has a major impact on the overall health of the economy. Crude oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices climbed another 50% between 2006 and 2008, and bank foreclosures more than doubled in the same period. Besides dampening the housing market, soaring oil prices caused a drop in the value of the dollar and a deterioration in the US merchandise trade deficit, which peaked at $840 billion in 2008. Because the US economy is energy-intensive, falling oil prices since 2013 have alleviated many of the problems the earlier increases had created.
The sub-prime mortgage crisis, falling home prices, investment bank failures, tight credit, and the global economic downturn pushed the US into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted until the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and industrial corporations, much of which had been returned to the government by early 2011. In January 2009, Congress passed and President Barack OBAMA signed a bill providing an additional $787 billion fiscal stimulus to be used over 10 years - two-thirds on additional spending and one-third on tax cuts - to create jobs and to help the economy recover. In 2010 and 2011, the federal budget deficit reached nearly 9% of GDP. In 2012, the Federal Government reduced the growth of spending and the deficit shrank to 7.6% of GDP. US revenues from taxes and other sources are lower, as a percentage of GDP, than those of most other countries.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through 2014, the direct costs of the wars totaled more than $1.5 trillion, according to US Government figures.
In March 2010, President OBAMA signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance reform that was designed to extend coverage to an additional 32 million Americans by 2016, through private health insurance for the general population and Medicaid for the impoverished. Total spending on healthcare - public plus private - rose from 9.0% of GDP in 1980 to 17.9% in 2010.
In July 2010, the president signed the DODD-FRANK Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law designed to promote financial stability by protecting consumers from financial abuses, ending taxpayer bailouts of financial firms, dealing with troubled banks that are "too big to fail," and improving accountability and transparency in the financial system - in particular, by requiring certain financial derivatives to be traded in markets that are subject to government regulation and oversight.
In December 2012, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced plans to purchase $85 billion per month of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities in an effort to hold down long-term interest rates, and to keep short term rates near zero until unemployment dropped below 6.5% or inflation rose above 2.5%. In late 2013, the Fed announced that it would begin scaling back long-term bond purchases to $75 billion per month in January 2014 and further reduce them as conditions warranted; the Fed ended the purchases during the summer of 2014. In 2014, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.2%, and continued to fall to 5.5% by mid-2015, the lowest rate of joblessness since before the global recession began; inflation stood at 1.7%, and public debt as a share of GDP continued to decline, following several years of increases. In December 2015, the Fed raised its target for the benchmark federal funds rate by 0.25%, the first increase since the recession began, but the Fed has opted to hold the target rate steady at 0.25%-0.5% through the first three quarters of 2016, with US GDP growth falling below 2% in each of those quarters.
Uruguay has a free market economy characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated workforce, and high levels of social spending. Uruguay has sought to expand trade within the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and with non-Mercosur members, and President VAZQUEZ has maintained his predecessor’s mix of pro-market policies and a strong social safety net.|
Following financial difficulties in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Uruguay's economic growth averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08. The 2008-09 global financial crisis put a brake on Uruguay's vigorous growth, which decelerated to 2.6% in 2009. Nevertheless, the country managed to avoid a recession and keep positive growth rates, mainly through higher public expenditure and investment; GDP growth reached 8.9% in 2010 but slowed in 2012-13 as a result of a renewed slowdown in the global economy and in Uruguay's main trade partners and Mercosur counterparts, Argentina and Brazil.
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country with more than 60% of the population living in densely populated rural communities. Since its independence in September 1991, the government maintained its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. Despite ongoing efforts to diversify crops, Uzbekistani agriculture remains largely centered on cotton; Uzbekistan is the world's fifth largest cotton exporter and sixth largest producer. Uzbekistan's growth has been driven primarily by state-led investments, and export of natural gas, gold, and cotton provides a significant share of foreign exchange earnings. In 2015, Russia’s Gazprom announced it would reduce its natural gas imports from Uzbekistan but Tashkent continues to export natural gas to China and Chinese investments in the country have substantially increased.|
While aware of the need to improve the investment climate, the government continues to intervene in the business sector and has not addressed the impediments to foreign investment in the country. In the past, Uzbekistani authorities have accused US and other foreign companies operating in Uzbekistan of violating Uzbekistani laws and have frozen and seized their assets. At the same time, the Uzbekistani Government has actively courted several major US and international corporations, offering financing and tax advantages.
In 2003, the government accepted Article VIII obligations under the IMF, providing for full currency convertibility. However, strict currency controls and tightening of borders have lessened the effects of convertibility and have also led to some shortages that have further stifled economic activity. Recently, lower global commodity prices and economic slowdown in neighboring Russia and China have been hurting Uzbekistan's trade and investment and worsening its problem of currency shortage.
This South Pacific island economy is based primarily on small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for about two-thirds of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism, with nearly 197,000 visitors in 2008, are other mainstays of the economy. Australia and New Zealand are the main source of tourists and foreign aid. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits.|
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. In response to foreign concerns, the government has promised to tighten regulation of its offshore financial center.
Since 2002, the government has stepped up efforts to boost tourism through improved air connections, resort development, and cruise ship facilities. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, is a second target for growth.
Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for almost all export earnings and nearly half of the government’s revenue. The country ended 2015 with an estimated 10% contraction in its GDP, 275% inflation, widespread shortages of consumer goods, and declining central bank international reserves. The IMF forecasts that the GDP will shrink another 8% in 2016 and inflation may reach 720%.|
Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. Market uncertainty and state oil company PDVSA’s poor cash flow have slowed investment in the petroleum sector, resulting in a decline in oil production.
Under President Nicolas MADURO, the Venezuelan Government’s response to the economic crisis has been to increase state control over the economy and blame the private sector for the shortages. The Venezuelan government has maintained strict currency controls since 2003. On 17 February 2016, the Venezuelan government announced a change from three official currency exchange mechanisms to only two official rates for the sale of dollars to private sector firms and individuals, with rates based on the government's import priorities. The official exchange rate used for food and medicine imports was devalued to 10 bolivars per dollar from 6.3 bolivars per dollar. The second rate moved to a managed float. These currency controls present significant obstacles to trade with Venezuela because importers cannot obtain sufficient dollars to purchase goods needed to maintain their operations. MADURO has used decree powers to enact legislation to deepen the state’s role as the primary buyer and distributor of imports, further tighten currency controls, cap business profits, and extend price controls.
Vietnam is a densely populated developing country that has been transitioning from the rigidities of a centrally-planned economy since 1986. Agriculture's share of economic output has shrunk from about 25% in 2000 to 18% in 2014, while industry's share increased from 36% to 38% in the same period. State-owned enterprises now account for only about 40% of GDP.|
Vietnamese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to economic modernization and a more open economy. Vietnam joined the WTO in January 2007, which has promoted more competitive, export-driven industries. Vietnam was one of 12-nations that concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations in 2015.
Hanoi has oscillated between promoting growth and emphasizing macroeconomic stability in recent years. During 2015, Vietnam's managed currency, the dong, depreciated about 5%. Poverty has declined significantly, and Vietnam is working to create jobs to meet the challenge of a labor force that is growing by more than one million people every year.
Vietnam is trying to reform its economy by restructuring public investment, state-owned enterprises, and the banking sector, although Hanoi’s progress in meeting its goals is lagging behind the proposed schedule. Vietnam's economy continues to face challenges from an undercapitalized banking sector and nonperforming loans.
Tourism, trade, and other services are the primary economic activities, accounting for nearly 60% of the Virgin Island's GDP and about half of total civilian employment. The islands host nearly 3 million tourists per year, mostly from visiting cruise ships. The islands are vulnerable to damage from storms. The agriculture sector is small, with most food being imported. Industry and government each account for about one-fifth of GDP. The manufacturing sector consists of rum distilling, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and watch assembly. A refinery on St. Croix, one of the world’s largest, processed 350,000 barrels of crude oil a day until it was shut down in February 2012, after operating for 45 years.|
Federal programs and grants, totaling $241.4 million in 2013, contributed 19.7% of the territory’s total revenues. The economy declined in 2013, due to decreases in exports resulting from the loss of refined oil products. Nevertheless, the economy remains relatively diversified. Along with a vibrant tourism industry, rum exports, trade, and services will be major income sources in future years.
Economic activity is limited to providing services to military personnel and 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 80% of labor force earnings coming from agriculture (coconuts and vegetables), livestock (mostly pigs), and fishing. However, roughly 70% of the labor force is employed in the public sector, although only about 20% of the population is in salaried employment.|
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. France directly finances the public sector and healthcare and education services. It also provides funding for key development projects in a range of areas, including infrastructure, economic development, environmental management, and healthcare facilities.
A key concern for Wallis and Futuna is an aging population with consequent economic development issues. Very few people aged 18-30 live on the islands due to the limited formal employment opportunities. Improving job creation is a current priority for the territorial government.
Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2015 exacerbated challenges to economic growth in the West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian Territories. Increased security restrictions and political instability slowed economic activity, and Israel’s four-month withholding of taxes and other fees it collects on the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) behalf caused the PA to delay salary payments to its employees, which in turn had broader effects on business activity and consumer demand.|
Longstanding Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows and the territory’s industrial capacity, limit imports and exports, and constrain private sector development. The PA for the foreseeable future will continue to rely heavily on donor aid for its budgetary needs and economic activity.
Western Sahara has a small market-based economy whose main industries are fishing, phosphate mining, and pastoral nomadism. The territory's arid desert climate makes sedentary agriculture difficult, and Western Sahara imports much of its food. The Moroccan Government administers Western Sahara's economy and is a key source of employment, infrastructure development, and social spending in the territory.|
Western Sahara's unresolved legal status makes the exploitation of its natural resources a contentious issue between Morocco and the Polisario. Morocco and the EU in December 2013 finalized a four-year agreement allowing European vessels to fish off the coast of Morocco, including disputed waters off the coast of Western Sahara.
Oil has never been found in Western Sahara in commercially significant quantities, but Morocco and the Polisario have quarreled over who has the right to authorize and benefit from oil exploration in the territory. Western Sahara's main long-term economic challenge is the development of a more diverse set of industries capable of providing greater employment and income to the territory. However, following King MOHAMMED VI’s November 2015 visit to Western Sahara, the Government of Morocco announced a series of investments aimed at spurring economic activity in the region, while the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises announced a $609 million investment initiative in the region in March 2015.
The international financial crisis of 2008-09 led to the first downturn in global output since 1946 and presented the world with a major new challenge: determining what mix of fiscal and monetary policies to follow to restore growth and jobs, while keeping inflation and debt under control. Financial stabilization and stimulus programs that started in 2009-11, combined with lower tax revenues in 2009-10, required most countries to run large budget deficits. Treasuries issued new public debt - totaling $9.1 trillion since 2008 - to pay for the additional expenditures. To keep interest rates low, most central banks monetized that debt, injecting large sums of money into their economies - between December 2008 and December 2013 the global money supply increased by more than 35%. Governments are now faced with the difficult task of spurring current growth and employment without saddling their economies with so much debt that they sacrifice long-term growth and financial stability. When economic activity picks up, central banks will confront the difficult task of containing inflation without raising interest rates so high they snuff out further growth.|
Fiscal and monetary data for 2013 are currently available for 180 countries, which together account for 98.5% of world GDP. Of the 180 countries, 82 pursued unequivocally expansionary policies, boosting government spending while also expanding their money supply relatively rapidly - faster than the world average of 3.1%; 28 followed restrictive fiscal and monetary policies, reducing government spending and holding money growth to less than the 3.1% average; and the remaining 70 followed a mix of counterbalancing fiscal and monetary policies, either reducing government spending while accelerating money growth, or boosting spending while curtailing money growth.
(For more information, see attached spreadsheet, Fiscal and Monetary Data, 2008-2012.)
In 2013, for many countries the drive for fiscal austerity that began in 2011 abated. While 5 out of 6 countries slowed spending in 2012, only 1 in 2 countries slowed spending in 2013. About 1 in 3 countries actually lowered the level of their expenditures. The global growth rate for government expenditures increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 5.1% in 2013, after falling from a 10.1% growth rate in 2011. On the other hand, nearly 2 out of 3 central banks tightened monetary policy in 2013, decelerating the rate of growth of their money supply, compared with only 1 out of 3 in 2012. Roughly 1 of 4 central banks actually withdrew money from circulation, an increase from 1 out of 7 in 2012. Growth of the global money supply, as measured by the narrowly defined M1, slowed from 8.7% in 2009 and 10.4% in 2010 to 5.2% in 2011, 4.6% in 2012, and 3.1% in 2013. Several notable shifts occurred in 2013. By cutting government expenditures and expanding money supplies, the US and Canada moved against the trend in the rest of the world. France reversed course completely. Rather than reducing expenditures and money as it had in 2012, it expanded both. Germany reversed its fiscal policy, sharply expanding federal spending, while continuing to grow the money supply. South Korea shifted monetary policy into high gear, while maintaining a strongly expansionary fiscal policy. Japan, however, continued to pursue austere fiscal and monetary policies.
Austere economic policies have significantly affected economic performance. The global budget deficit narrowed to roughly $2.7 trillion in 2012 and $2.1 trillion in 2013, or 3.8% and 2.5% of World GDP, respectively. But growth of the world economy slipped from 5.1% in 2010 and 3.7% in 2011, to just 3.1% in 2012, and 2.9% in 2013.
Countries with expansionary fiscal and monetary policies achieved significantly higher rates of growth, higher growth of tax revenues, and greater success reducing the public debt burden than those countries that chose contractionary policies. In 2013, the 82 countries that followed a pro-growth approach achieved a median GDP growth rate of 4.7%, compared to 1.7% for the 28 countries with restrictive fiscal and monetary policies, a difference of 3 percentage points. Among the 82, China grew 7.7%, Philippines 6.8%, Malaysia 4.7%, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia 3.6%, Argentina 3.5%, South Korea 2.8%, and Russia 1.3%, while among the 28, Brazil grew 2.3%, Japan 2.0%, South Africa 2.0%, Netherlands -0.8%, Croatia -1.0%, Iran -1.5%, Portugal -1.8%, Greece -3.8%, and Cyprus -8.7%.
Faster GDP growth and lower unemployment rates translated into increased tax revenues and a less cumbersome debt burden. Revenues for the 82 expansionary countries grew at a median rate of 10.7%, whereas tax revenues fell at a median rate of 6.8% for the 28 countries that chose austere economic policies. Budget balances improved for about three-quarters of the 28, but, for most, debt grew faster than GDP, and the median level of their public debt as a share of GDP increased 9.1 percentage points, to 59.2%. On the other hand, budget balances deteriorated for most of the 82 pro-growth countries, but GDP growth outpaced increases in debt, and the median level of public debt as a share of GDP increased just 1.9%, to 39.8%.
The world recession has suppressed inflation rates - world inflation declined 1.0 percentage point in 2012 to about 4.1% and 0.2 percentage point to 3.9% in 2013. In 2013 the median inflation rate for the 82 pro-growth countries was 1.3 percentage points higher than that for the countries that followed more austere fiscal and monetary policies. Overall, the latter countries also improved their current account balances by shedding imports; as a result, current account balances deteriorated for most of the countries that pursued pro-growth policies. Slow growth of world income continued to hold import demand in check and crude oil prices fell. Consequently, the dollar value of world trade grew just 1.3% in 2013.
Beyond the current global slowdown, the world faces several long standing economic challenges. The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of pollution, waste-disposal, epidemics, water-shortages, famine, over-fishing of oceans, deforestation, desertification, and depletion of non-renewable resources. The nation-state, as a bedrock economic-political institution, is steadily losing control over international flows of people, goods, services, funds, and technology. The introduction of the euro as the common currency of much of Western Europe in January 1999, while paving the way for an integrated economic powerhouse, has created economic risks because the participating nations have varying income levels and growth rates, and hence, require a different mix of monetary and fiscal policies. Governments, especially in Western Europe, face the difficult political problem of channeling resources away from welfare programs in order to increase investment and strengthen incentives to seek employment. Because of their own internal problems and priorities, the industrialized countries are unable to devote sufficient resources to deal effectively with the poorer areas of the world, which, at least from an economic point of view, are becoming further marginalized. The terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001 accentuated a growing risk to global prosperity - the diversion of resources away from capital investments to counter-terrorism programs.
Despite these vexing problems, the world economy also shows great promise. Technology has made possible further advances in a wide range of fields, from agriculture, to medicine, alternative energy, metallurgy, and transportation. Improved global communications have greatly reduced the costs of international trade, helping the world gain from the international division of labor, raise living standards, and reduce income disparities among nations. Much of the resilience of the world economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis resulted from government and central bank leaders around the globe working in concert to stem the financial onslaught, knowing well the lessons of past economic failures.
Yemen is a low-income country that faces difficult long-term challenges to stabilizing and growing its economy, and the current conflict has only exacerbated those issues. The ongoing war has halted Yemen’s exports, pressured the currency’s exchange rate, accelerated inflation, severely limited food and fuel imports, and caused widespread damage to infrastructure. At least 82% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.|
Prior to the start of the conflict in 2014, Yemen was highly dependent on declining oil resources for revenue. Oil and gas earnings accounted for roughly 25% of GDP and 65% of government revenue. The Yemeni Government regularly faced annual budget shortfalls and has tried to diversify the Yemeni economy through a reform program designed to bolster non-oil sectors of the economy and foreign investment. As part of these reform efforts, Yemen exported its first liquefied natural gas in October 2009. The international community supported Yemen’s efforts toward economic and political reform in part by establishing the Friends of Yemen group. In 2012, the Friends of Yemen pledged nearly $7 billion in assistance to Yemen. In July 2014, the government continued reform efforts by eliminating some fuel subsidies and in August 2014, the IMF approved a three-year, $570 million Extended Credit Facility for Yemen.
However, the conflict that began in 2014 stalled these reform efforts. Rebel Huthi groups have interfered with Ministry of Finance and Central Bank operations and diverted funds for their own use. Yemen’s Central Bank reserves, which stood at $5.2 billion prior to the conflict, currently stand at $1.5 billion. The Central Bank is exposed to approximately $7 billion in overdraft, more than three times the legal limit, directly linked to the Huthis withdrawing $116 million on a monthly basis. The private sector is hemorrhaging, with almost all businesses making substantial layoffs. The Port of Hudaydah, which handles 60% of Yemen’s commercial traffic, was damaged in August 2015 as a result of the conflict and is only operating at 50% capacity. Access to food and other critical commodities such as medical equipment is limited across the country due to security issues on the ground. The Social Welfare Fund, a cash transfer program for Yemen’s neediest, is no longer operational and has not made any disbursements since late 2014.
Yemen will require significant international assistance during and after the protracted conflict to stabilize its economy. Long-term challenges include a high population growth rate, high unemployment, declining water resources, and severe food scarcity.
Zambia has had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the past ten years, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed in 2015 to just over 3%, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer.|
Despite recent strong economic growth and its status as a lower middle-income country, widespread and extreme rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain significant problems, made worse by a high birth rate, a relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, and by market-distorting agricultural and energy policies. Economic policy inconsistency and poor budget execution in recent years has hindered the economy and contributed to weakness in the kwacha, which was Africa’s worst performing currency during 2015. Zambia has raised $7 billion from international investors by issuing separate sovereign bonds in September 2012, April 2014, and July 2015, significantly increasing the country’s public debt as a share of GDP.
Poor management of water resources has also contributed to a power generation shortage, which has hampered industrial productivity and contributed to an increase in year-on-year inflation to 23% by March 2016. Zambia’s currency, the kwacha, also depreciated sharply against the dollar through 2015, before the central bank restricted lending.
Zimbabwe's economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, the economy recorded real growth of more than 10% per year in the period 2010-13, before slowing to roughly 3% in 2014 due to poor harvests, low diamond revenues, and decreased investment. Lower mineral prices, infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, a poor investment climate, a large public and external debt burden, and extremely high government wage expenses impede the country’s economic performance.|
Until early 2009, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) routinely printed money to fund the budget deficit, causing hyperinflation. Dollarization in early 2009 - which allowed currencies such as the Botswana pula, the South Africa rand, and the US dollar to be used locally - ended hyperinflation and reduced inflation below 10% per year. The RBZ introduced bond coins denominated in 1, 5, 10, and 25 cent increments on a par with the US dollar in December 2014, more than five years after the Zimbabwe dollar was taken out of circulation. In January 2015, as part of the government’s effort to boost trade and attract foreign investment, the RBZ announced that the Chinese renmimbi, Indian rupee, Australian dollar, and Japanese yen would be accepted as legal tender in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s government entered a second Staff Monitored Program with the IMF in 2014 and undertook other measures to reengage with international financial institutions. Foreign and domestic investment continues to be hindered by the lack of clarity regarding the government’s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act. In 2015 the depreciation of the South African rand against the US dollar has led to deflation in Zimbabwe as prices for South African imports decline while the costs of domestic production in US dollars remains stable.