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Eritrea Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of financial resources and chronic drought. 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. Mining accounts for the lion's share of output.

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 Eritrea are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the large percentage of the labor force tied up in military 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 continue to drive limited economic growth and government revenue over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans.

GDP (purchasing power parity)$9.702 billion (2017 est.)

$8.953 billion (2016 est.)

$8.791 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$5.813 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate5% (2017 est.)

1.9% (2016 est.)

2.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,600 (2017 est.)

$1,500 (2016 est.)

$1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving5.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

6% of GDP (2016 est.)

6.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 80.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 6.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 10.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -22.5% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 11.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 29.6% (2017 est.)

services: 58.7% (2017 est.)
Ease of Doing Business Index scoresOverall score: 21.6 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 52.9 (2020)

Trading score: 0 (2020)

Enforcement score: 55.9 (2020)
Population below poverty line50% (2004 est.)
Labor force2.71 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 80%

industry: 20% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate5.8% (2017 est.)

10% (2016 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA
Budgetrevenues: 2.029 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.601 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues34.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-9.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt131.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

132.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)9% (2017 est.)

9% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productssorghum, milk, vegetables, barley, cereals, pulses nes, roots/tubers nes, wheat, millet, beef
Industriesfood processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
Industrial production growth rate5.4% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance-$137 million (2017 est.)

-$105 million (2016 est.)
Exports$624.3 million (2017 est.)

$485.4 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiesgold and other minerals, livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small industry manufactures
Exports - partnersChina 62%, South Korea 28.3% (2017)
Imports$1.127 billion (2017 est.)

$1.048 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partnersUAE 14.5%, China 13.2%, Saudi Arabia 13.2%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 5.6%, South Africa 4.6% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$236.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$218.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external$792.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$875.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange ratesnakfa (ERN) per US dollar -

15.38 (2017 est.)

15.375 (2016 est.)

15.375 (2015 est.)

15.375 (2014 est.)

15.375 (2013 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on September 18, 2021

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