View the information below regarding the economy of Gabon. The summary and statistics contains
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GDP (2003): $4.8 billion.
Annual real growth rate (2004 est.): 1.1%.
Per capita income (2004 est.): $4,579.
Avg. inflation rate (2004 est): 2.1%.
Natural resources: Petroleum (43% of GDP), timber, manganese, uranium.
Agriculture and forestry (7% of GDP): Products--cocoa, coffee, rubber, sugar, and pineapples. Cultivated land--1%.
Industry (9% of GDP): Types--petroleum related, wood processing, food and beverage processing.
Trade (2003): Exports--$2.6 billion: petroleum, wood, manganese.
Major markets--U.S., EU, Asia. Imports--$0.7 billion: construction equipment, machinery, food, automobiles, manufactured goods. Major suppliers--U.S., France, China.
Gabon's economy is dominated by oil. Oil revenues comprise 65% of the Government of Gabon budget, 43% of GDP, and 81% of exports. Oil production is now declining rapidly from its apogee of 370,000 barrels per day in 1997. In spite of the decreasing oil revenues, little planning has been done for an after-oil scenario. Gabon public expenditures from the years of significant oil revenues were not spent efficiently. Overspending on the Transgabonais railroad, the oil price shock of 1986, the franc CFA devaluation of 1994, and low oil prices in the late 1990s have caused serious debt problems. Gabon has earned a poor reputation with the Paris Club and the IMF for the management of its debt and revenues. Successive IMF missions have criticized the government for over-spending on off-budget items (in good years and bad), over-borrowing from the Central Bank, and slipping on the schedule for privatization and administrative reform.
Gabon's oil revenues have given it a strong per capita GDP of more than $3,700, extremely high for the region. On the other hand, a skewed income distribution and poor social indicators are evident. Approximately five percent of the population receives over ninety percent of the income/wealth. The economy is highly dependent on extraction of abundant primary materials. After oil, logging and manganese mining are the other major sectors. Foreign and Gabonese observers have consistently lamented the lack of transformation of primary materials in the Gabonese economy. Various factors have so far stymied more diversification (small market of 1 million people, dependence on French imports, inability to capitalize on regional markets, lack of entrepreneurial zeal among the Gabonese, and the fairly regular stream of oil "rent"). The small processing and service sectors are largely dominated by just a few prominent local investors. At World Bank and IMF insistence, the government embarked on a program of privatization of its state-owned companies and administrative reform, including reducing public sector employment and salary growth, but progress has been slow. An 18-month Stand-By Arrangement between the government and the IMF expired in April 2002 without the government fulfilling most of its targets.