COUNTRYAAH, Guinea-Bissau's business is dominated almost entirely by
agriculture. The industry that exists is little developed
and mainly focuses on food production. Large trade deficits
and large external debt have made the country highly
dependent on international aid and loans.
At independence, Guinea-Bissau introduced planning
economics and formulated an investment program where
industry was prioritized. The economy, which was adversely
affected by the liberation war, continued the downward trend
during the 1970s. In the early 1980s, therefore, extensive
economic liberalization was implemented, which created a
certain upturn. However, continuing problems led
Guinea-Bissau to introduce a recovery program in 1987-90
aimed at strengthening the private sector by deregulating
trade and removing price controls. The civil war in the late
1990s meant that much of the infrastructure was destroyed
and almost all economic activity ceased; In 1998, GDP fell
by about 28 percent. At the beginning of the 1990s, the
economic problems continued; among other things, the world
market price of cashew nuts fell, which is the country's
most important export commodity, at the same time as
Guinea-Bissau's most important trading partner India has
increasingly begun to buy cashew nuts from its own growers.
However, during the latter part of the 1990s,
Guinea-Bissau's economy grew by just over 3 per cent
annually and the most recent growth has been above 5 per
cent for several years.
For information on GDP and other business statistics, see
Agriculture and natural resources
Agriculture (including fishing and forestry) is
Guinea-Bissau's most important economic sector. Rice is the
most important food crop and is grown mainly in the southern
parts of the country. Recurring dry periods and insect
infestation have periodically affected production
negatively. Other important food crops are corn, beans,
millet and sweet potatoes. The most important export crops
are cashews, peanuts, palm oil and cotton. Most of the
export crops are grown in the northeastern part of the
country. The farming methods are often simple, and the
majority of farming units are small. Livestock management is
also important in the hinterland, and some hides are
Guinea-Bissau has a lot of fish-rich waters, and in the
1980s the importance of the fishing industry increased.
Fishing licenses are sold to foreign countries and
companies. However, the domestic fishermen, who are engaged
in small-scale coastal fishing, have found it more difficult
to manage as the stocks have decreased as a result of
overfishing. There is also extensive illegal fishing off the
coast of the country.
A large part of Guinea-Bissau is covered by forest and
the country now exports timber. However, the majority of the
forest being harvested is used as firewood.
No mineral extraction occurs, but large deposits of
bauxite are found at Boé as well as phosphate at Cacheu and
Oio. Oil exploration is ongoing on the continental shelf.
Guinea-Bissau's exports are dominated by fishery and
agricultural products and imports of manu- facture and food.
The country has a large deficit in its trade. Imports mainly
come from Portugal, Senegal and China. Guinea-Bissau exports
mainly to India and Vietnam.