Sao Tome and Principe: Economy#

This small, poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence in 1975. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement. Sao Tome and Principe has to import fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and food, making it vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices. Maintaining control of inflation, fiscal discipline, and increasing flows of foreign direct investment into the oil sector are major economic problems facing the country. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies.

Over the years, Sao Tome and Principe has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. It benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries program, which helped bring down the country's $300 million debt burden. In August 2005, the government signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program worth $4.3 million. 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.

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

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$694 million (2016 est.)
$667.3 million (2015 est.)
$641.6 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$351 million (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate4% (2016 est.)
4% (2015 est.)
4.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$3,300 (2016 est.)
$3,300 (2015 est.)
$3,200 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving19.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
16% of GDP (2015 est.)
3.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 85.2%
government consumption: 14.9%
investment in fixed capital: 48.5%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 9.6%
imports of goods and services: -58.7% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 22.4%
industry: 10.3%
services: 67.4% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish
Industrieslight construction, textiles, soap, beer, fish processing, timber
Industrial production growth rate4.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force70,620 (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
note: population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing; shortages of skilled workers
Unemployment rate13.5% (2014 est.)
13.7% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line66.2% (2009 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $108.6 million
expenditures: $127 million (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues30.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-5.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt89.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
81.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)5.1% (2016 est.)
5.3% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate16% (31 December 2009)
28% (31 December 2008)
Commercial bank prime lending rate15% (31 December 2016 est.)
15% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$71.57 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$63.82 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$139.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$126.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$73.47 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$72.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Current account balance-$44 million (2016 est.)
-$55 million (2015 est.)
Exports$11 million (2016 est.)
$11.3 million (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiescocoa 80%, copra, coffee, palm oil (2010 est.)
Exports - partnersNetherlands 29.2%, Belgium 22.4%, Spain 15.5%, US 6.6%, Nigeria 5.1% (2015)
Imports$116.8 million (2016 est.)
$118.9 million (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products
Imports - partnersPortugal 65.2%, China 8.1%, Gabon 7.3% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$68.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$72.86 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$236.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$219 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesdobras (STD) per US dollar -
22,624 (2016 est.)
22,091 (2015 est.)
22,091 (2014 est.)
18,466 (2013 est.)
19,068 (2012 est.)