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Greenland Economy Profile 2017

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Economy - overviewGreenland’s economy depends on exports of shrimp and fish, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. Fish account for over 90% of its exports, subjecting the economy to fluctuations in world demand. The subsidy from the Danish Government is budgeted to be about $535 million in 2017, more than 50% of government revenues, and 25% of GDP.

The economy is expanding after a period of decline. In 2016 the economy grew 4.6% compared to 1.1% in 2015 and negative growth in the years 2013-14. For 2017 the economy is expected to continue to expand at a more subdued rate. The expansion has been driven by larger quotas for shrimp, the predominant Greenlandic export, and also by increased activity in the construction sector, especially in Nuuk, the capital, where the harbor is being enlarged and a prison is under construction. Private consumption and tourism also are contributing to GDP growth more than in previous years. Tourism in Greenland has grown annually around 20% in 2015 and 2016, largely a result of increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.

The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. 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 budget was in deficit in 2014 and 2016, but public debt remains low at about 5% of GDP. The government plans a balanced budget for the 2017 – 2020 period.

Significant challenges face the island, including low levels of qualified labor, geographic dispersion, lack of industry diversification, the long-term sustainability of the public budget, and a declining population due to emigration. Catches in fisheries have been declining in recent years. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$2.173 billion (2015 est.)
$2.137 billion (2014 est.)
$2.154 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$2.221 billion (2011 est.)
GDP - real growth rate1.7% (2015 est.)
-0.8% (2014 est.)
-3% (2013 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$37,600 (2015 est.)
$37,000 (2014 est.)
$38,500 (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 24.8%
government consumption: 28%
investment in fixed capital: 14.3%
investment in inventories: -13.9%
exports of goods and services: 18.2%
imports of goods and services: 28.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 15.9%
industry: 10.1%
services: 73.9% (2015)
Population below poverty line16.2% (2015 est.)
Labor force26,840 (2015 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 15.9%
industry: 10.1%
services: 73.9% (2015)
Unemployment rate9.1% (2015 est.)
10.3% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Distribution of family income - Gini index33.9 (2015 est.)
34.3 (2014 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $1.578 billion
expenditures: $1.876 billion (2014 est.)
Taxes and other revenues71% of GDP (2015 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-13.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
Public debt13% of GDP (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.3% (January 2017 est.)
1.2% (January 2016 est.)
Central bank discount rateNA%
Agriculture - productssheep, cow, reindeer, fish
Industriesfish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, zinc, anorthosite and ruby mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
Industrial production growth rateNA%
Exports$407.1 million (2015 est.)
$599.7 million (2014 est.)
Exports - commoditiesfish and fish products 91% (2015 est.)
Exports - partnersDenmark 76%, Portugal 9.7%, Iceland 4.2% (2015)
Imports$783.5 million (2015 est.)
$866.1 million (2014 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partnersDenmark 71%, Sweden 12.7%, Iceland 5.1% (2015)
Debt - external$36.4 million (2010)
$58 million (2009)
Exchange ratesDanish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
6.865 (2016 est.)
6.7236 (2015 est.)
6.7236 (2014 est.)
5.3687 (2013 est.)
5.79 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on July 9, 2017