Sierra Leone Trade, Exports & Imports

By: EW Content Team   Date: 10 May 2010

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When looking at the economy of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone Trade, Sierra Leone  Exports, Sierra Leone Imports, it is important to understand that this particular country is listed as a “least developed country.  Currently, the GDP is at 1.9 billion in United States dollars, which as slowly increased since the end of the civil war in 2002.  Just two years ago, the World Bank listed Sierra Leone trade at the 147

When looking at the economy of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone Trade, Sierra Leone  Exports, Sierra Leone Imports, it is important to understand that this particular country is listed as a “least developed country.  Currently, the GDP is at 1.9 billion in United States dollars, which as slowly increased since the end of the civil war in 2002.  Just two years ago, the World Bank listed Sierra Leone trade at the 147 position while the CIA rated it as the 153.  The challenge with the Sierra Leone trade is that it has always experienced a tough time because of exploitation of mineral being depended on too much.

Interestingly, the government of Sierra Leone and even the people of this country have long believed that gold and diamonds are enough to generate earnings specific to the foreign exchange market.  It has also been believed that these two resources are enough to bring investors in.  Unfortunately, with this thinking being off base, large scale agriculture products, sustainable investments, and any development for the industrial sector have been grossly neglected by the government.  Therefore, the economy is based on Sierra Leone exports of unsustainable resources or assets that cannot be reused.

The one positive thing for Sierra Leone trade is that this country is rich in minerals.  In fact, the country has long depended on mining, which includes gold but primarily diamonds.  Even so, during the 1970s and 1980s, mining began to slow down and with Sierra Leone being at a financial disadvantage regarding foreign exchange rates, and with government budget deficits being what they were, the result was significant inflation and balance of payments deficits.  This prompted the government to implement various maintenance infrastructures and aid projects.

Even though approximately 65% of the people in Sierra Leone are involved with subsistence agriculture and while most of the country earns a living from this, just a little more than 40% of the national income is connected to agricultural accounts.  To rectify the problem, five years ago government officials worked to improve small farmer skills and boost crop production.  In addition, a number of larger donors from other countries have been getting involved with the Sierra Leone government to create agricultural projects and operate integrated rural development.

Regarding Sierra Leone exports, the main product is minerals.  Of course, this country is a large producer of high quality diamonds and even though mining has slowed, diamonds continue to be highly exploited and exported.  Today, it is estimated that the production of diamonds every year is between $70 and $250 million but even so, only $1.2 to $25 million are actually a part of Sierra Leone exports.  Sadly, the majority of diamonds mined in Sierra Leone are actually smuggled out of the country, which is then used to pay off illegal debt, or to finance various illicit activities.

Another part of  Sierra Leone trade is the vast deposits of titanium ore called Rutile, which is used as a coating for welding rods and creating pigmentation in paint.  The volume of this titanium is so large that for Sierra Leone exports, about 88,000 tons, which is equivalent to $75 million was occurring in 1990.  However, in 1995 mining of this ore was halted temporarily when the mining sites were raided by rebels.  Eventually, the sites reopened and today, they are still being mined but after this incidence, involvement by the United States dropped by 25%.

The most recent reported numbers for Sierra Leone exports is that $216 million worth of transactions are completed annually, which includes coffee, fish, cocoa, Rutile, and of course diamonds.  The for Sierra Leone imports, the estimated amount is $560 million.  For this, imports include chemicals, machinery, equipment, foods, and fuels.  The primary countries involved with imports include China, as well as Belgium, the United Kingdom, Thailand, and India.
 

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