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Gabon Economy
 
 
 

General

Gabon is more prosperous than most nearby countries, with a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to offshore oil production. Critics note that the income was not invested in modernising or diversifying the economy and Gabon remains heavily reliant on its natural resources. Gabon was a full member of OPEC from 1975 to 1995. It is an exporter of manganese, iron and wood. Uranium mines near Franceville were shut down in 2001 with the arrival of new competition on the global market and there is work in progress to re-open them. Plans to exploit rich iron deposits north-east of Makokou are expected to begin in 2012. Oil production is now declining from its peak of 370,000 barrels per day (59,000 m³/d) in 1997. The 1998 fall-off in oil prices had a negative impact on government revenues and the economy. Gabon public expenditures from the years of significant oil revenues have not been spent efficiently.

During the 1990s, devaluation of the CFA franc left Gabon struggling to pay its overseas debt; France and the IMF have provided further loans and aid in exchange for the implementation of changes to the economy. Gabon's principal trading partners are the United States, China and Russia for exports while importing mainly from France.

Overview

Economy - overview
Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. The devaluation of the CFA franc – its currency – by 50% in January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandated progress in privatisation and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticised the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatisation and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices since 1999 have helped growth, but drops in production have hampered Gabon from fully realising potential gains, and will continue to temper the gains for most of this decade. In December 2000, Gabon signed a new agreement with the Paris Club to reschedule its official debt. A follow-up bilateral repayment agreement with the US was signed in December 2001. Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2004, and received Paris Club debt rescheduling later that year. Short-term progress depends on an upbeat world economy and fiscal and other adjustments in line with IMF policies.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$20.44 billion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)
$11.3 billion (2007 est.)

GDP - real growth rate
6.2% (2007 est.)


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