The country is very poor, with 63 per cent of the population living below the poverty line and a 28 per cent unemployment rate. Customs dues from the South African Customs Union and remittances from expatriates working in South Africa are a vital supplement to the domestic economy; customs revenue dropped sharply in the global downturn and the government applied for international financial assistance. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought and floods are potential future problems.
ESwatini has the highest levels of HIV/AIDS infection in the world, more than a quarter of the adult population, and consequently faces serious demographic, economic and social problems.
Subsistence agriculture occupies 10.7 per cent of the population and contributes 6.5 per cent of GDP. Sugar cane, cotton, citrus fruits and pineapples are the main cash crops and the basis of industries producing sugar, canned fruit and soft drink concentrates. Coal mining has become less important since the 1980s with diversification into gold and diamond mining, alongside manufacturing products such as textiles, clothing, wood pulp and refrigerators. Industry contributes 45 per cent of GDP and services 48.6 per cent.
South Africa accounts for 94 per cent of exports and over 80 per cent of imports. Principal exports are the products of agriculture and manufacturing. The main imports are vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products and chemicals.
GNI – US$4.1bn; US$2,960 per capita (2017)
Annual average growth of GDP – 0.3 per cent (2017 est)
Inflation rate – 7 per cent (2017 est)
Population below poverty line – 63 per cent (2010)
Total external debt – US$548.2m (2017 est)
Imports – US$1,525m (2013)
Exports – US$1,894m (2013)
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
Trade – US$370m surplus (2013)
Current Account – US$639m surplus (2016)
Trade with UK
Imports from UK
Exports to UK