Guinea-Bissau Country Economic Memorandum : Terra Ranca! A Fresh Start

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After decades of turmoil and instability, a period of calm and progress evolved in Guinea-Bissau in 2009. A military coup in April 2012 interrupted it. A fresh start is needed to alter the dynamics that kept Guinea-Bissau poor. In 2013, Gross National Income per capita was US$590. Average economic growth barely kept pace with population growth. In 2010, poverty at the national poverty line of US$2 a day was 70 percent; extreme poverty at US$1 a day was 33 percent. These numbers have increased from their 2002 levels and they are estimated to have increased further since 2010. It is time to make a fresh start and turn the page on anemic growth and poverty. Guinea-Bissau s elections of May and June 2014 are described by many observers as the freest and fairest in the country s history. Voter registration and turnout were at record-levels. The conditions for progress and stability are favorable. Guinea-Bissau is a rural economy, almost entirely dependent on a single cash crop: cashew. It is the main source of income for most of the country s poor. Cashew nuts are Guinea-Bissau s main export, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of the country s total exports. The balance of payments is dominated by cashew, on the export side, and food and fuel, among imports. The economy is open, with exports and imports by land and sea amounting to more than 70 percent of GDP. Shocks to cashew, rice and oil prices have a considerable effect on the current account balance. Official Development Assistance (ODA) makes a critical contribution to supporting the state budget. In 2011, Guinea-Bissau ranked 20th among the world s most aid dependent countries. Recently, policy mistakes aggravated an already dire situation. However, the 2014 cashew campaign was been better than the 2013 campaign, and the prospects for a pick-up in growth have improved.
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World Bank. 2015. Guinea-Bissau Country Economic Memorandum : Terra Ranca! A Fresh Start. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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