Western Sahara: Economy#

Western Sahara has a small market-based economy whose main industries are fishing, phosphate mining, and pastoral nomadism. The territory's arid desert climate makes sedentary agriculture difficult, and Western Sahara imports much of its food. The Moroccan Government administers Western Sahara's economy and is a key source of employment, infrastructure development, and social spending in the territory.

Western Sahara's unresolved legal status makes the exploitation of its natural resources a contentious issue between Morocco and the Polisario. Morocco and the EU in December 2013 finalized a four-year agreement allowing European vessels to fish off the coast of Morocco, including disputed waters off the coast of Western Sahara.

Oil has never been found in Western Sahara in commercially significant quantities, but Morocco and the Polisario have quarreled over who has the right to authorize and benefit from oil exploration in the territory. Western Sahara's main long-term economic challenge is the development of a more diverse set of industries capable of providing greater employment and income to the territory. However, following King MOHAMMED VI’s November 2015 visit to Western Sahara, the Government of Morocco announced a series of investments aimed at spurring economic activity in the region, while the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises announced a $609 million investment initiative in the region in March 2015.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$906.5 million (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$NA
GDP - real growth rateNA%
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,500 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: 40% (2007 est.)
Agriculture - productsfruits and vegetables (grown in the few oases); camels, sheep, goats (kept by nomads); fish
Industriesphosphate mining, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rateNA%
Labor force144,000 (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 50%
industry and services: 50% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rateNA%
Population below poverty lineNA%
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Budgetrevenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA
Taxes and other revenuesNA%
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)NA%
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)NA%
Exports - commoditiesphosphates 62% (2012 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfuel for fishing fleet, foodstuffs
Debt - external$NA
Exchange ratesMoroccan dirhams (MAD) per US dollar -
9.929 (2016 est.)
9.7351 (2015 est.)
9.7351 (2013)
8.3803 (2013)
8.6 (2012)