Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Economy of Yemen

South Yemen and North Yemen had vastly different but equally struggling underdeveloped economic systems. Since unification, the economy has been forced to sustain the consequences of Yemen's support for Iraq during the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War: Saudi Arabia expelled almost 1 million Yemeni workers, and both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait significantly reduced economic aid to Yemen. The 1994 civil war further drained Yemen's economy. As a consequence, for the past 10 years Yemen has relied heavily on aid from multilateral agencies to sustain its economy. In return, it has pledged to implement significant economic reforms. In 1997 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved two programs to increase Yemen's credit significantly: the enhanced structural adjustment facility (now known as the poverty reduction and growth facility, or PRGF) and the extended funding facility (EFF). In the ensuing years, Yemen's government attempted to implement recommended reforms—reducing the civil service payroll, eliminating diesel and other subsidies, lowering defense spending, introducing a general sales tax, and privatizing state-run industries. However, limited progress led the IMF to suspend funding between 1999 and 2001.

At unification, both the Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen were struggling underdeveloped economies. In the north, disruptions of civil war (1962–1970) and frequent periods of drought had dealt severe blows to a previously prosperous agricultural sector. Coffee production, formerly the north's main export and principal form of foreign exchange, declined as the cultivation of khat increased. Low domestic industrial output and a lack of raw materials made the YAR dependent on a wide variety of imports.

Economists have reported that Yemen's services sector constituted 51.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002 and 52.2 percent of GDP in 2003. The U.S. government estimates that the services sector accounted for 39.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2004 and 39.3 percent in 2005.
Yemen's tourism industry is hampered by limited infrastructure as well as serious security concerns. The country's hotels and restaurants are below international standards, and air and road transportation is largely inadequate. Kidnappings of foreign tourists remain a threat, especially outside the main cities, and, coupled with terrorist bombings at the Port of Aden in 2000 and 2002, present a significant deterrent to tourism. As recently as September 2006, tribesmen in the Shabwa province, east of Sanaa, kidnapped four French tourists on their way to Aden. They were freed two weeks later. In October 2006, the U.S. Department of State reiterated previous warnings to U.S. citizens, strongly urging them to consider carefully the risks of traveling to Yemen. Britain's Foreign Office has issued a similar advisory. Recent statistics for tourist arrivals in Yemen are not available, but in 2004 the number rose to 274,000 from 155,000 in 2003.

According to the U.S. government, the agriculture and herding sector employs the majority of Yemen's working population (54.2 percent in 2003). Industry, together with services, construction, and commerce, accounts for less than 25 percent of the labor force.
According to the World Bank, Yemen's civil service is characterized by a large, poorly paid work force and inadequate salary differential between high and low skilled jobs to attract and retain qualified workers. In 2004 the government increased civil service salaries by 20 to 40 percent in order to alleviate the impact of anticipated economic reforms that were never implemented. The result was a 20 percent rise in wage costs; civil service wages constituted 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2004. The 2005 budget reduced economic subsidies but in exchange required the government to make various concessions, including increasing civil service wages another 10 to 15 percent by 2007 as part of a national wage strategy.

In 1990 the newly unified Republic of Yemen inherited an unsustainable debt burden amounting to roughly 106 percent of gross domestic product. Debt rescheduling by the Paris Club creditor countries in the 1990s coupled with assistance from the World Bank's International Development Agency resulted in a drop in Yemen's debt stock to US$5.4 billion (an estimated 39 percent of gross domestic product) by year-end 2004. According to the Central Bank of Yemen, Yemen's debt stock was US$5.2 billion (an estimated 33 percent of gross domestic product) by year-end 2005. According to the U.S. government, Yemen's reserves of foreign exchange and gold were US$6.1 billion in 2005.

Yemen does not have a stock exchange, therefore limiting inward portfolio investment. Portfolio investment abroad is also very limited, with the result that portfolio flows are largely unrecorded by authorities. In the early 1990s, net direct investment was at its peak as foreign investors tapped Yemeni oil reserves, but since 1995 net direct investment flows have been negative because cost recovery for foreign oil companies has exceeded new direct investment. A five-year US$3 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) construction project involving a consortium of foreign companies is planned following government approval in August 2005. Such a project raises the prospect of increased foreign investment in the future as LNG facilities are built.

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