Liberia is a low-income country that relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from the diaspora. It is richly endowed with water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Its principal exports are iron ore, rubber, diamonds, and gold. Palm oil and cocoa are emerging as new export products. The government has attempted to revive raw timber extraction and is encouraging oil exploration.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, civil war and government mismanagement destroyed much of Liberia's economy, especially infrastructure in and around the capital. Much of the conflict was fueled by control over Liberia’s natural resources. With the conclusion of fighting and the installation of a democratically elected government in 2006, businesses that had fled the country began to return. The country achieved high growth during the period 2010-13 due to favorable world prices for its commodities. However, during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, the economy declined and many foreign-owned businesses departed with their capital and expertise. The epidemic forced the government to divert scarce resources to combat the spread of the virus, reducing funds available for needed public investment. The cost of addressing the Ebola epidemic coincided with decreased economic activity reducing government revenue, although higher donor support significantly offset this loss. During the same period, global commodities prices for key exports fell and have yet to recover to pre-Ebola levels.
In 2017, gold was a key driver of growth, as a new mining project began its first full year of production; iron ore exports are also increased as Arcelor Mittal opened new mines at Mount Gangra. The completion of the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Dam increased electricity production to support ongoing and future economic activity, although electricity tariffs remain high relative to other countries in the region and transmission infrastructure is limited. Presidential and legislative elections in October 2017 generated election-related spending pressures.
Revitalizing the economy in the future will depend on economic diversification, increasing investment and trade, higher global commodity prices, sustained foreign aid and remittances, development of infrastructure and institutions, combating corruption, and maintaining political stability and security.
|GDP (current US$) (billions)||0.38||0.53||1.29||2.1|
|GDP growth (annual %)||-51||28.6||6.1||-1.6|
|Inflation, GDP deflator (annual %)||-0.2||-6.9||5.5||5|
|Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added (% of GDP)||54||76||45||34|
|Industry (including construction), value added (% of GDP)||17||4||5||13|
|Exports of goods and services (% of GDP)||..||31||19||21|
|Imports of goods and services (% of GDP)||..||39||93||100|
|Gross capital formation (% of GDP)||..||7||19||20|
|Revenue, excluding grants (% of GDP)||..||..||20.9||24.7|
|Net lending (+) / net borrowing (-) (% of GDP)||..||..||-0.9||-0.7|
|States and markets|
|Time required to start a business (days)||..||..||21||6|
|Domestic credit provided by financial sector (% of GDP)||68.3||174.5||31.9||36.6|
|Tax revenue (% of GDP)||..||..||17.3||20.3|
|Military expenditure (% of GDP)||7.2||..||0.7||0.7|
|Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)||0||0.1||39.8||67.6|
|Individuals using the Internet (% of population)||0||0||2.3||7.3|
|High-technology exports (% of manufactured exports)||..||..||..||..|
|Statistical Capacity score (Overall average)||..||..||33||58|
|Merchandise trade (% of GDP)||374||188||72||70|
|Net barter terms of trade index (2000 = 100)||84||100||134||121|
|External debt stocks, total (DOD, current US$) (millions)||2,062||2,836||419||952|
|Total debt service (% of exports of goods, services and primary income)||3.7||..||1.4||2.9|
|Net migration (thousands)||-300||-50||-20||..|
|Personal remittances, received (current US$) (millions)||..||..||31||549|
|Foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current US$) (millions)||225||21||452||453|
|Net official development assistance received (current US$) (millions)||113.7||67.4||1,416.10||815|