Commerce, transport and public services accounted for almost 70% of GDP in 2001. Tourism was regarded as one of the most important growth sectors for the islands, along with transportation infrastructure. Construction was also thriving in the early 2000s. Only 11% of the GDP was accounted for by agriculture and fishing in 2001, which supplies the country's export market. Tuna and lobster are the main fishing products. Bananas, maize, and beans are key crops, with cassava, sweet potatoes, coconuts, dates, and sugar cane also produced on small, low-technology farms for domestic consumption. Cape Verde is drought-prone, and less than 10% of food requirements are met by local producers. Salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone are mineral resources.
Remittances from Cape Verdeans living abroad supplemented GDP by more than 20% in 2002. The government established tax incentives to attract emigrants' investment in Cape Verdean enterprises. Total debt in 2001 amounted to almost half of the country's annual GDP. Cape Verde runs a high trade deficit.
Perhaps Cape Verde's most important asset is its strategic economic location. It is an important refueling location for international air (Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal) and ocean traffic (at the port of Porto Grande, at Mindelo on São Vicente island). In 1997, a four-year World Bank-sponsored project designed to upgrade the port facilities at Porto Grande was completed. Two new ports were also built on the islands of Maio and Boavista.
The government aimed to develop the private sector, liberalize trade, and attract foreign investment in 2003. Political stability and transparency have helped Cape Verde's economic development. The World Bank in 2002 funded a study of the potential of Cape Verde's light industrial manufacturing sector.