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Sao Tome and Principe Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

The economy of São Tomé and Príncipe is small, based mainly on agricultural production, and, since independence in 1975, increasingly dependent on the export of cocoa beans. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement. Sao Tome depends heavily on imports of food, fuels, most manufactured goods, and consumer goods, and changes in commodity prices affect the country’s inflation rate. Maintaining control of inflation, fiscal discipline, and increasing flows of foreign direct investment into the nascent oil sector are major economic problems facing the country. In recent years the government has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies. In 2017, several business-related laws were enacted that aim to improve the business climate.

São Tomé and Príncipe has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. 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. In 2016, Sao Tome and Portugal signed a five-year cooperation agreement worth approximately $64 million, some of which will be provided as loans. In 2017, China and São Tomé signed a mutual cooperation agreement in areas such as infrastructure, health, and agriculture worth approximately $146 million over five years.

Considerable potential exists for development of tourism, and the government has taken steps to expand tourist facilities in recent years. Potential also exists for the development of petroleum resources in São Tomé and Príncipe's territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, some of which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria, but production is at least several years off.

Volatile aid and investment inflows have limited growth, and poverty remains high. Restricteded capacity at the main port increases the periodic risk of shortages of consumer goods. Contract enforcement in the country’s judicial system is difficult. The IMF in late 2016 expressed concern about vulnerabilities in the country’s banking sector, although the country plans some austerity measures in line with IMF recommendations under their three year extended credit facility. Deforestation, coastal erosion, poor waste management, and misuse of natural resources also are challenging issues.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$686 million (2017 est.)
$660.4 million (2016 est.)
$633.9 million (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$393 million (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
3.9% (2017 est.)
4.2% (2016 est.)
3.8% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$3,200 (2017 est.)
$3,200 (2016 est.)
$3,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
18.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
21% of GDP (2016 est.)
19.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 81.4% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 17.6% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 33.4% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 7.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -40.4% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 11.8% (2017 est.)
industry: 14.8% (2017 est.)
services: 73.4% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
66.2% (2009 est.)
Labor force
72,600 (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 26.1%
industry: 21.4%
services: 52.5% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate
12.2% (2017 est.)
12.6% (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 20.8%
male: NA
female: NA (2012 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Distribution of family income - Gini index
30.8 (2010 est.)
32.1 (2000 est.)
Budget
revenues: 103 million (2017 est.)
expenditures: 112.4 million (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
26.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-2.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
88.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
93.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
5.7% (2017 est.)
5.4% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate
16% (31 December 2009)
28% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
19.61% (31 December 2017 est.)
19.59% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$75.38 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$64.95 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$75.38 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$64.95 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$96.03 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$73.35 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares

NA

Agriculture - products
cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish
Industries
light construction, textiles, soap, beer, fish processing, timber
Industrial production growth rate
5% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$32 million (2017 est.)
-$23 million (2016 est.)
Exports
$15.6 million (2017 est.)
$9.31 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
cocoa 68%, copra, coffee, palm oil (2010 est.)
Exports - partners
Guyana 43.7%, Germany 23.6%, Portugal 6%, Netherlands 5.5%, Poland 4.4% (2017)
Imports
$127.7 million (2017 est.)
$119.1 million (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products
Imports - partners
Portugal 54.7%, Angola 16.5%, China 5.6% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$58.95 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$61.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$292.9 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$308.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$469.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$430.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$3.98 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
dobras (STD) per US dollar -
22,689 (2017 est.)
21,797 (2016 est.)
22,149 (2015 est.)
22,091 (2014 est.)
18,466 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020