Austria is one of the wealthiest and most stable of the EU member countries. It has a free market economy with a strong emphasis on social factors favoring the economically less privileged and providing conditions for equitable wages and pricing. Service, industry, and agriculture are the 3 major sectors of the Austrian economy. The foremost products are foodstuffs, luxury commodities, mechanical engineering, steel, chemicals, and vehicles. Within the vehicle sector, the production of engines and transmissions is the most important, accounting for an export quota of more than 90 percent. Austria manufactures as many as 800,000 engines per year for major car manufacturers. In the electronic engineering field, Austria is known for its production of customized electronics
Approximately 3 percent of all Austrians work in agriculture and forestry. In 1998 that sector accounted for 1.3 percent of Austria's gross domestic product. Although about 41 percent of Austria's total area is thought to be suitable for agriculture, currently about 18 percent of the surface area is actually covered by farmland. Another 27 percent of the country's area is considered as grassland and nearly half (47 percent) is woods and forests. With its 20,000 organic farmers, Austria occupies a leading position in Europe in the branch of organic agriculture.
In 1998, Austrian industry (commodities manufacturing, energy, and mining) accounted for 32.4 percent of the GDP and employed 29 percent of the workforce. In the field of raw materials and energy generation, Austria possesses ample resources. It has major deposits of iron ore and non-ferrous metals. It also has its own resources of oil and natural gas and is the EU's number-one generator of hydroelectric power. However, the constant growth of the industrial sector necessitates a significant amount of supplementary imports. This is also true of fuels and energy and of the electricity which generates industry.
There are an unusually high number of medium-size enterprises in Austria's commercial industrial sector. Austrian industry covers practically every branch of manufacturing starting from basic goods to the labor-intensive production of finished goods. Plant construction (encom-passing the planning, delivery, and assembly of industrial facilities) is among the most important industries of the country. Plant construction and electronics sectors are strongly export-oriented. Another export-oriented sector is Austria's handicrafts, famous worldwide for, among other things, costume jewelry, ceramics, and glassware.