Economy of Guyana

Last updated
Economy of Guyana
Downtown Georgetown, Guyana.jpg
Downtown Georgetown, Guyana
Currency Guyanese dollar (GYD)
Calendar year
Trade organisations
CARICOM, WTO, Prosur, Unasur, Mercosur (associate)
Country group
  • Increase2.svg $6.806 billion (nominal, 2020 est.) [3]
  • Increase2.svg $7.148 billion (PPP, 2019 est.) [4]
GDP rank
GDP growth
  • 4.1% (2018) 4.7% (2019e)
  • 51.1% (2020f) 8.1% (2021f) [5]
GDP per capita
  • Increase2.svg $8,649 (nominal, 2020 est.)
  • Increase2.svg $8,581 (PPP, 2018 est.) [6]
GDP per capita rank
GDP by sector
1.8% (2020 est.) [4]
Population below poverty line
35% (2006 est.) [7]
44.6 medium (2007) [7]
Labour force
  • Increase2.svg 324,943 (2019) [10]
  • 49.2% employment rate (2017) [11]
Labour force by occupation
UnemploymentIncrease Negative.svg 12.2% (2018) [12]
Main industries
bauxite, sugar, rice milling, timber, textiles, gold mining
Steady2.svg 134th (medium, 2020) [13]
ExportsIncrease2.svg $1.439 billion (2017 est.) [7]
Export goods
sugar, gold, bauxite, alumina, rice, shrimp, molasses, rum, timber petroleum
Main export partners
ImportsIncrease2.svg$1.626 billion (2017 est.) [7]
Import goods
manufactures, machinery, petroleum, food
Main import partners
FDI stock
Decrease2.svg −$237 million (2017 est.) [7]
Increase Negative.svg $1.69 billion (31 December 2017 est.) [7]
Public finances
Increase Negative.svg 52.2% of GDP (2017 est.) [7]
−4.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.) [7]
Revenues1.002 billion (2017 est.) [7]
Expenses1.164 billion (2017 est.) [7]
Economic aid$84 million
Foreign reserves
Increase2.svg $565.4 million (31 December 2017 est.) [7]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
Guyana export treemap Guyana Export Treemap.jpg
Guyana export treemap

The economy of Guyana is the fastest growing in the world with a projected GDP growth of 26.2% in 2020. [14] Guyana had a per capita gross domestic product of $8,300 in 2016 and an average GDP growth of 4.2% over the previous decade. [4] [15] Crude oil production started in 2019. [14]



Developed in conjunction with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the ERP significantly reduced the government's role in the economy, encouraged foreign investment, enabled the government to clear all its arrears on loan repayments to foreign governments and the multilateral banks, and brought about the sale of 15 of the 41 government-owned (parastatal) businesses. The cellphone company and assets in the timber, rice, and fishing industries also were privatized. International corporations were hired to manage the huge state sugar company, GuySuCo, and the largest state bauxite mine. An American company was allowed to open a bauxite mine, and two Canadian companies were permitted to develop the largest open-pit gold mine in South America. However, efforts to privatize the two state-owned bauxite mining companies, Berbice Mining Company and Linden Mining Company have so far been unsuccessful.

Most price controls were removed, the laws affecting mining and oil exploration were improved, and an investment policy receptive to foreign investment was announced. Tax reforms designed to promote exports and agricultural production in the private sector were enacted.


Since 1986, Guyana has received its entire wheat supply from the United States on concessional terms under a PL 480 Food for Peace programme. It is now supplied on a grant basis. The Guyanese currency generated by the sale of the wheat is used for purposes agreed upon by the U.S. and Guyana Governments. As with many developing countries, Guyana is heavily indebted. Reduction of the debt burden has been one of the present administration's top priorities. In 1999, through the Paris Club "Lyons terms" and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative Guyana managed to negotiate $256 million in debt forgiveness.

In qualifying for HIPC assistance, for the first time, Guyana became eligible for a reduction of its multilateral debt. About half of Guyana's debt is owed to the multilateral development banks and 20% to its neighbour Trinidad and Tobago, which until 1986 was its principal supplier of petroleum products. Almost all debt to the U.S. government has been forgiven. In late 1999, net international reserves were at $123.2 million, down from $254 million in 1994. However, net international reserves had rebounded to $174.1 million by January 2001.

Guyana's extremely high debt burden to foreign creditors has meant limited availability of foreign exchange and reduced capacity to import necessary raw materials, spare parts, and equipment, thereby further reducing production. The increase in global fuel costs also contributed to the country's decline in production and growing trade deficit. The decline of production has increased unemployment. Although no reliable statistics exist, combined unemployment and underemployment are estimated at about 30%.

Emigration, principally to the U.S. and Canada, remains substantial. Net emigration in 1998 was estimated to be about 1.4 percent of the population, and in 1999, this figure totaled 1.2 percent. After years of a state-dominated economy, the mechanisms for private investment, domestic or foreign, are still evolving. The shift from a state-controlled economy to a primarily mixed economic system began under Desmond Hoyte and continued under PPP/CIVIC governments. The current PPP/C administration recognizes the need for foreign investment to create jobs, enhance technical capabilities, and generate goods for export.

The foreign exchange market was fully liberalized in 1991, and currency is now freely traded without restriction. The rate is subject to change on a daily basis, but the Guyana dollar has depreciated 17.6% from 1998 to 2000 and may depreciate further pending the stability of the post-election period.

Economic history

European settlement and plantation workforce

The Dutch were the first to settle Guyana in the 1600s, engaging in trade with the Amerindians and establishing plantations. It was soon discovered that the soil and climate were ideal for growing sugar cane and slaves from Africa were brought in to work on these plantations. The colonies of the Guianas were merged and taken into the British empire. When slavery was abolished, a new wave of labor was brought from India as indentured servants. Politics was greatly controlled by powerful plantation owners. Portuguese and Chinese also came into the country as agricultural labor, but eventually settled into their own specific service industries. [16]


When Guyana became independent from British rule, there was a great need to ensure the economy was locally-owned after centuries of foreign involvement. Socialist policies were of great interest at the time, and early every sector of industry was nationalized during the Burnham presidency of the 1970s, with new agencies established to support the poor and working class. Initially, government investment was successful to aid growth, but lacked management skills and was weak in the face of world commodity prices and competition. Economic and political strife went hand in hand, and the population dwindled from resulting waves of emigration. [17]

Opening of markets

The economy made dramatic progress after President Hoyte's 1989 economic recovery program (ERP). As a result of the ERP, Guyana's GDP increased six percent in 1991 following 15 years of decline. Growth was consistently above six percent until 1995, when it dipped to 5.1 percent. The government reported that the economy grew at a rate of 7.9 percent in 1996, 6.2 percent in 1997, and fell 1.3 percent in 1998. The 1999 growth rate was three percent. The unofficial growth rate in 2005 was 0.5 percent. In 2006, it was 3.2%.


Infrastructure is primarily concentrated on the coast, and there is difficulty in building up industries in the hinterlands due to limitations of access and energy.

Major Economic Sectors

Agriculture and mining are Guyana's most important economic activities, with sugar, bauxite, rice, and gold accounting for 7075 percent of export earnings. However, the rice sector experienced a decline in 2000, with export earnings down 27 percent through the third quarter of 2000. Ocean shrimp exports, which were heavily impacted by a one-month import ban to the United States in 1999, accounted for only 3.5 percent of total export earnings that year. Shrimp exports rebounded in 2000, representing 11 percent of export earnings through the third quarter of 2000. Other exports include timber, diamonds, garments, rum, and pharmaceuticals. The value of these other exports is increasing.


Sugar is the most historically important product of Guyana, however, the industry has been in decline due to global competition and other factors. It still is a major export, along with its related products molasses and rum. [18] Banks DIH and Demerara Distilleries are the countries' only distillers, but Guyana is world’s 14th largest exporter of rum. [19]

In 2018, Guyana produced 1.2 million tons of sugar cane, 964 thousand tons of rice, 136 thousand tons of coconut, in addition to smaller productions of other products agricultural products, such as eggplant (47 thousand tons), pineapple (34 thousand tons), pepper (37 thousand tons), banana (23 thousand tons), orange (21 thousand tons), cassava (20 thousand tons), etc. [20]


Mining has surpassed the economic importance of sugar in recent years, making up a sizable portion of Guyana's GDP. The large-scale gold and bauxite mining operations are all foreign-owned, but the vast proportion of gold and diamond mining is done by small and medium-scale miners.


In the 2010's, significant off-shore oil finds by Exxon has renewed interest in foreign investment in the country. A 2018 estimate predicts Guyana's oilfields are holding over 3.2 billion barrels. [18] Off-shore crude oil extraction began in 2019.


Guyana contains the "largest unspoiled rainforests on the continent." [18] Despite the vast forests covering the country, the timber industry has remained small due to infrastructural limitations such as undeveloped roads and lacking or unreliable electricity to milling operations. [21]

The country also sees large financial contributions from international organizations looking to protect the forests.


Most of what is fished is consumed locally, but there is a sizable export market for ocean shrimp. Overfishing of shrimp has led to Atlantic seabob becoming the most commercially important catch. Commercial fishing is mostly marine, as inland fishing is mostly attributed to subsistence fishing done by Amerindians. [22]


The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017. [23]

GDP in $
1.28 Bln.1.37 Bln.1.38 Bln.2.19 Bln.2.73 Bln.3.14 Bln.3.40 Bln.3.73 Bln.3.88 Bln.4.04 Bln.4.37 Bln.4.59 Bln.4.90 Bln.5.24 Bln.5.54 Bln.5.77 Bln.6.05 Bln.6.29 Bln.
GDP per capita in $
GDP growth
−2.0 %0.4 %−3.0 %5.0 %−1.3 %−1.9 %5.2 %7.0 %1.9 %3.3 %4.4 %5.4 %4.8 %5.2 %3.8 %3.1 %3.3 %2.1 %
(in Percent)
14.1 %15.0 %64.3 %12.2 %6.1 %6.9 %6.8 %12.2 %8.1 %3.0 %4.3 %4.4 %2.4 %1.9 %0.7 %−0.9 %0.8 %2.1 %
Government debt
(Percentage of GDP)
............131 %119 %97 %61 %63 %67 %68 %67 %64 %58 %52 %50 %51 %51 %

See also

Related Research Articles

Economy of Burkina Faso National economy

The economy of Burkina Faso is based primarily on subsistence farming and livestock raising. Burkina Faso has an average income purchasing-power-parity per capita of $1,900 and nominal per capita of $790 in 2014. More than 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, with only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services. Highly variable rainfall, poor soils, lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure, a low literacy rate, and a stagnant economy are all longstanding problems of this landlocked country. The export economy also remained subject to fluctuations in world prices.

Economy of Burundi

The economy of Burundi is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 32.9% of GDP in 2008. Burundi itself is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. Agriculture supports more than 70% of the labour force, the majority of whom are subsistence farmers. Although Burundi is potentially self-sufficient in food production, the ongoing civil unrest, overpopulation, and soil erosion have contributed to the contraction of the subsistence economy by 25% in recent years. Large numbers of internally displaced persons have been unable to produce their own food and are largely dependent on international humanitarian assistance. Burundi is a net food importer, with food accounting for 17% of imports in 1997.

Economy of Cameroon Economy of the country

The economy of Cameroon was one of the most prosperous in Africa for a quarter of a century after independence. The drop in commodity prices for its principal exports – petroleum, cocoa, coffee, and cotton – in the mid-1980s, combined with an overvalued currency and economic mismanagement, led to a decade-long recession. Real per capita GDP fell by more than 60% from 1986 to 1994. The current account and fiscal deficits widened, and foreign debt grew. Yet because of its oil reserves and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon still has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Economy of the Central African Republic National economy

The economy of the Central African Republic is one of the world's least developed, with an estimated annual per capita income of just $805 as measured by purchasing power parity in 2019.

Economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo National economy

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has declined drastically since the mid-1980s, despite being home to vast potential in natural resources and mineral wealth.

Economy of Ecuador National economy

The economy of Ecuador is the eighth largest in Latin America and the 69th largest in the world by total GDP. Ecuador’s economy is based on the export of oil, bananas, shrimp, gold, other primary agricultural products and money transfers from Ecuadorian emigrants employed abroad. In 2017, remittances constituted 2.7% of country's GDP. The total trade amounted to 98% of the Ecuador’s GDP in 2017. The country is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources. In 2017, oil accounted for about one-third of public-sector revenue and 32% of export earnings. When Ecuador was part of OPEC, it was one of the smallest members and produced about 531,300 barrels per day of petroleum in 2017. It is the world's largest exporter of bananas and a major exporter of shrimp. Exports of non-traditional products such as cut flowers and canned fish have grown in recent years. In the past, Ecuador’s economy depended largely on primary industries like agriculture, petroleum, and aquaculture. As a result of shifts in global market trends and development of technology have led to the economic development of other sectors like textile, processed food, metallurgy and the service sectors. Between 2006 and 2014, GDP growth averaged 4.3%, driven by high oil prices and external financing. From 2015 until 2018 GDP growth averaged just 0.6%. Ecuador's president, Lenín Moreno, has launched a radical transformation of Ecuador’s economy since taking office in May 2017. The aim is to increase the private sector’s weight, in particular the oil industry.

Economy of Haiti

The economy of Haiti is a free market economy with low labor costs. Haiti's major trading partner is the United States (US), which provides the country with preferential trade access to the US market through the Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) and the Haiti Economic Lift Program Encouragement Acts (HELP) legislation.

Economy of Jamaica National economy

The economy of Jamaica is heavily reliant on services, accounting for 70% of the country's GDP. Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, and an ideal climate conducive to agriculture and also tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

Economy of Kyrgyzstan National economy

The economy of Kyrgyzstan is heavily dependent on the agricultural sector. Cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity. According to Healy Consultants, Kyrgyzstan's economy relies heavily on the strength of industrial exports, with plentiful reserves of gold, mercury and uranium. The economy also relies heavily on remittances from foreign workers. Following independence, Kyrgyzstan was progressive in carrying out market reforms, such as an improved regulatory system and land reform. In 1998, Kyrgyzstan was the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. Much of the government's stock in enterprises has been sold. Kyrgyzstan's economic performance has been hindered by widespread corruption, low foreign investment and general regional instability. Despite political corruption and regional instability, Kyrgyzstan is ranked 70th on the ease of doing business index.

Economy of Moldova

The economy of Moldova is one of the poorest in Europe. Moldova is a landlocked Eastern European country, bordered by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It was a former Soviet republic.

Economy of Nicaragua National economy

The economy of Nicaragua is focused primarily on the agricultural sector. Nicaragua itself is the least developed country in Central America, and the second poorest in the Americas by nominal GDP. In recent years, under the administrations of Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan economy has expanded somewhat, following the global recession of 2009, when the country's economy actually contracted by 1.5%, due to decreased export demand in the US and Central American markets, lower commodity prices for key agricultural exports, and low remittance growth. The economy saw 4.5% growth in 2010 thanks to a recovery in export demand and growth in its tourism industry. Nicaragua's economy continues to post growth, with preliminary indicators showing the Nicaraguan economy growing an additional 5% in 2011. Consumer Price inflation have also curtailed since 2008, when Nicaragua's inflation rate hovered at 19.82%. In 2009 and 2010, the country posted lower inflation rates, 3.68% and 5.45%, respectively. Remittances are a major source of income, equivalent to 15% of the country's GDP, which originate primarily from Costa Rica, the United States, and European Union member states. Approximately one million Nicaraguans contribute to the remittance sector of the economy.

Economy of the Republic of the Congo National economy

The economy of the Republic of the Congo is a mixture of subsistence hunting and agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum extraction and support services, and government spending characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. Nowadays the Republic of the Congo is increasingly converting natural gas to electricity rather than burning it, greatly improving energy prospects.

Economy of Sierra Leone

The economy of Sierra Leone is that of a least developed country with a gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately US$1.9 billion in 2009. Since the end of the civil war in 2002 the economy is gradually recovering with a GDP growth rate between 4 and 7%. In 2008 its GDP in PPP ranked between 147th and 153rd (CIA) largest in the world.

Economy of Tanzania National economy

The economy of Tanzania is a lower-middle income economy that is overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture. Tanzania's economy has been transitioning from a command economy to a market economy since 1985. Although total GDP has increased since these reforms began, GDP per capita dropped sharply at first, and only exceeded the pre-transition figure in around 2007.

Economy of Togo National economy

The economy of Togo has struggled greatly. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks it as the tenth poorest country in the world, with development undercut by political instability, lowered commodity prices, and external debts. While industry and services play a role, the economy is dependent on subsistence agriculture, with industrialization and regional banking suffering major setbacks.

Economy of Tunisia National economy

The economy of Tunisia is in the process of being liberalized after decades of heavy state direction and participation in the country's economy. Prudent economic and fiscal planning have resulted in moderate but sustained growth for over a decade. Tunisia's economic growth historically has depended on oil, phosphates, agri-food products, car parts manufacturing, and tourism. In the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report for 2015–2016, Tunisia ranks in 92nd place. Based on HDI latest report, Tunisia ranks 96th globally and 5th in Africa.

Economy of Madagascar Economy of the country

The economy of Madagascar is a market economy and is supported by Madagascar's well-established agricultural industry and emerging tourism, textile and mining industries. Malagasy agriculture produces tropical staple crops such as rice and cassava, as well as cash crops such as vanilla and coffee. Madagascar's wealth of natural resources supports its sizable mining industry. Additionally, Madagascar's status as a developing nation exempts Malagasy exports from customs protocol in some areas, notably the United States and European Union. These exemptions have supported the growth of the Malagasy textile industry. Despite Madagascar's natural resources and developing industries, the 2009 Malagasy political crisis—considered by the international community to be an illegal coup—deterred foreign investments in Madagascar and caused the Malagasy economy to decline. Foreign investments have resumed following the resumption of elections in early 2014. At 2018, Madagascar is one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Economy of Mozambique National economy

The economy of Mozambique has developed since the end of the Mozambican Civil War (1977–1992). In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, have led to dramatic improvements in the country's growth rate. Inflation was brought to single digits during the late 1990s although it returned to double digits in 2000–02. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities. In spite of these gains, Mozambique remains dependent upon foreign assistance for much of its annual budget. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's workforce. A substantial trade imbalance persists although the opening of the Mozal aluminium smelter, the country's largest foreign investment project to date has increased export earnings. Additional investment projects in titanium extraction and processing and garment manufacturing should further close the import/export gap. Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt has been reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the International Monetary Fund's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives, and is now at a manageable level.

Economy of Papua New Guinea national economy

The economy of Papua New Guinea is largely underdeveloped. It is dominated by the agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector and the minerals and energy extraction sector. The agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector accounts for most of the labour force of Papua New Guinea, while the minerals and energy extraction sector is responsible for most of the export earnings.

Economy of Algeria National economy of Algeria

The economy of Algeria expanded by 4% in 2014, up from 2.8% in 2013. Growth was driven mainly by the recovering oil and gas sector and further economic expansion of 3.9% is forecast in 2015 and 4.1% in 2016.


  1. "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019". International Monetary Fund . Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  2. "World Bank Country and Lending Groups". World Bank . Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2020". International Monetary Fund. 13 October 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  4. 1 2 3 "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2020". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  5. "Global Economic Prospects, June 2020". World Bank. p. 86. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  6. "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2019". International Monetary Fund . Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency . Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  8. "Human Development Index (HDI)". HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme . Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  9. "Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)". HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme . Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  10. "Labor force, total - Guyana". World Bank. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  11. "Employment to population ratio, 15+, total (%) (national estimate) - Guyana". World Bank. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  12. The World Bank (April 2019). "Unemployment, total (% of total labor force) (modeled ILO estimate)" . Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  13. "Ease of Doing Business in Guyana". Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  14. 1 2 "The Five Fastest Growing Economies in the World, October 2020". Nasdaq. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  15. "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2019". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  16. "Guyana - HISTORY OF THE ECONOMY". Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  17. "Guyana - HISTORY OF THE ECONOMY - Postindependence". Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  18. 1 2 3 "South America :: Guyana — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  19. "Guyana's Rum Industry on an economic high". Guyana Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  20. Guyana production in 2018, by FAO
  21. "Guyana - Forestry". Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  22. "FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - Country Profile". Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  23. "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects" . Retrieved 2018-09-19.