Swaziland: Economy#

Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland depends on South Africa for 60% of its exports and for more than 90% of its imports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, effectively relinquishing Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. The government is heavily dependent on customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and worker remittances from South Africa supplement domestically earned income. Swaziland’s GDP per capita makes it a lower middle income country, but its income distribution is highly skewed, with an estimated 20% of the population controlling 80% of the nation’s wealth. As of 2014, more than one-quarter of the adult population was infected by HIV/AIDS; Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.

Subsistence agriculture employs approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector diversified in the 1980s and 1990s, but manufacturing has grown little in the last decade. Sugar and wood pulp had been major foreign exchange earners until the wood pulp producer closed in January 2010, and sugar is now the main export earner. Mining has declined in importance in recent years. Coal, gold, diamond, and quarry stone mines are small scale, and the only iron ore mine closed in 2014.

With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and to attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems. On 1 January 2015, Swaziland lost its eligibility for benefits under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

The IMF forecasted that Swaziland’s economy will grow at a slower pace in 2016/2017 because of a region-wide drought, which is likely to hurt Swaziland’s revenue from sugar exports and other agricultural products, and a decline in the tourism and transport sectors. Swaziland’s revenue from SACU receipts and remittances from Swazi citizens abroad will also decline in 2016/2017, making it harder to maintain fiscal balance.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$11.06 billion (2016 est.)
$11.01 billion (2015 est.)
$10.83 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$3.43 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate0.5% (2016 est.)
1.7% (2015 est.)
2.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$9,800 (2016 est.)
$9,800 (2015 est.)
$9,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving4.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
18.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
12.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 74.7%
government consumption: 21.4%
investment in fixed capital: 14.6%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 34.5%
imports of goods and services: -45.2% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 5.8%
industry: 44.5%
services: 49.7% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productssugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep
Industriescoal, forestry, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles and apparel
Industrial production growth rate2.8% (2016 est.)
Labor force446,100 (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 70%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate40% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line69% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 40.1% (2010 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index50.4 (2001)
Budgetrevenues: $866.9 million
expenditures: $1.195 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues25.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-9.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year1 April - 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices)8.8% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate6.5% (31 December 2010)
6.5% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate10.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
9.04% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$236.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$304.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$825.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.008 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$511.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$557.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
$203.1 million (31 December 2007)
$199.9 million (31 December 2006)
Current account balance-$167 million (2016 est.)
$370 million (2015 est.)
Exports$1.717 billion (2016 est.)
$1.763 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiessoft drink concentrates, sugar, timber, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit
Imports$1.655 billion (2016 est.)
$1.603 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmotor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$603.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$548 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$470.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$440.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesemalangeni per US dollar -
16.15 (2016 est.)
12.7581 (2015 est.)
12.7581 (2014 est.)
10.8469 (2013 est.)
8.2 (2012 est.)