Maldives - Economy

As of 2003, the Maldives remains on the UN list of least developed countries, yet economic progress has been steady. The first tourist resort was opened in 1972. In 1989 the government lifted import quotas and liberalized some sectors of trade. Gross domestic product growth rates averaged about 10% in the 1980s, and about 7% in the 1990s. In the 1990s the peak was 16%(1990) and the low 4% (1993). In 1998 and 1999, real GDP growth reached 9.1% and 8.5%, respectively, but fell to 4.8% in 2000, following a decline of -2.3% in agriculture (including coral and sand mining) and of -0.5% in industry. Growth recovered to5.7% in 2001.

Fishing, tourism, and shipping are the mainstays of the economy, employing over half of the work force. The tourism industry has become particularly important, accounting for about 20% of GDP, 31% of government revenues, and more than 60% of the country's foreign exchange earnings in 2002. The government is seeking to continue diversifying the economy through further promotion of tourism, processing industries, and garment production. Besides tourism, GDP is comprised of distribution, 4.5%; construction, 3%; fisheries, 6%; agriculture, 3%; transportation and communication, 16%; government administration, 12%; and manufacturing and electricity, 8%.

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