Guinea-Bissau Economics and Business

Guinea-Bissau is a small West African country with a population of approximately 1.8 million people. The economy of Guinea-Bissau is largely dependent on agriculture and fisheries, with the majority of the population engaged in subsistence farming or fishing. The main export commodities include fish, cashew nuts, and groundnuts. The country has limited amounts of mineral resources such as bauxite, iron ore, phosphates, and rutile.

According to cheeroutdoor, the economy of Guinea-Bissau has been characterized by low growth rates over the past decade due to political instability and weak governance structures. In recent years, the government has taken steps to improve the business environment by introducing reforms aimed at improving the investment climate such as creating new laws to attract foreign investment and providing incentives for green energy projects.

In terms of infrastructure development, Guinea-Bissau has seen some improvements in recent years with an expansion in access to electricity, water and sanitation services as well as road construction projects across the country. However, much more needs to be done in order to improve transportation networks which are currently inadequate for meeting the needs of businesses or individuals looking to travel within or outside of Guinea-Bissau.

In terms of education, there have been some improvements in recent years with an increase in access to basic education services particularly for children aged 6-14 years old while higher education remains limited due to lack of resources or infrastructure needed for universities and other tertiary institutions.

The main trading partners for Guinea-Bissau are Senegal, Portugal (its former colonial power), China and India while its main import partners are France, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The government is taking steps towards diversifying its export base by encouraging investments into new industries such as information technology (IT) or manufacturing while also promoting tourism initiatives across the country which could help stimulate economic activity further down the line if successful over time.

Overall, despite some improvements made in recent years Guinea-Bissau’s economy still remains fragile due to ongoing political instability which continues to hamper economic growth prospects going forward unless strong governance structures can be established that foster an environment conducive for business activities across all sectors including agriculture; fisheries; manufacturing; IT; tourism; etc..


According to 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.

Guinea-Bissau GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

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 percent annually and the most recent growth has been above 5 per cent for several years.

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 exported.

Abbreviated as GNB by, 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.

Foreign trade

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.

Note: the capital city of Guinea-Bissau is Bissau with a population of 558,000 (estimate 2018). Other major cities include Gabú, Bafatá.

Guinea-Bissau Economics and Business

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