Equatorial Guinea - Economy

The agricultural industry employs the majority of the population. The country exports cocoa, coffee, and timber, and imports large quantities of foodstuffs. Production of oil began in 1991, and substantial new reserves were discovered in 1995. Trace deposits of a few minerals have been located. Industry is limited to a few processing facilities for agricultural products. In 1990, compliance difficulties with the IMF structural adjustment program and the government's repeated violations of human rights resulted in the suspension of most foreign economic assistance. The arrival of significant oil revenues, however, has caused the economy to be viewed with guarded optimism. Continuing fiscal mismanagement and the lack of economic reforms casts doubt on the government's ability to fully capitalize on the oil revenues. Nonetheless, oil now accounts for 90% of exports and over 60% of GDP. Oil production was forecast to rise from 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2001 to 350,000 bpd in 2002. Other natural resources that are undeveloped are titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and gold.

In 1985, Equatorial Guinea joined the CFA franc zone, improving the economic situation. In 1994, France devalued the CFA franc, causing its value to drop in half overnight, and raising the value of exports. Increased export revenue, together with newly exploited petroleum reserves, caused GDP to rise dramatically (over 50%) during 1996 and 1997. GDP growth was estimated at 6% in 2001.

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