National Flag

Picture

Map

Picture

Basic Information

São Tomé and Príncipe is an island country in the southeast of the Gulf of Guinea on the central western side of Africa, with an area of about 1,001 square kilometres. It is composed of 14 isles including São Tomé, Príncipe, Rolas, and Caroço. The population is about 204,000, 90% of them are Bantu people. The capital city São Tomé is the largest city of the country.

Investment Environment

In recent years, the government of São Tomé and Príncipe has taken pro-active measures to reduce tariffs, improve the investment environment and establish free trade zones to attract foreign investment. It focuses on investment in infrastructure such as ports and electricity, and actively develops new industries such as tourism. These moves have allowed the economy to maintain moderate growth.

According to Doing Business 2020, the World Bank’s report on business environment, in terms of starting up  businesses, it takes only 6 procedures and takes an average of 7 days to start a business in São Tomé and Príncipe; in terms of construction permits, it only takes an average of 67 days in São Tomé and Príncipe and costs only 2.2% of the warehouse value.

In terms of industrial structure, 51% of the population is engaged in agricultural production. The main cash crop is cocoa, accounting for more than 20% of GDP. The unique geographical location, coupled with the beautiful natural landscape, provides São Tomé and Príncipe with rich tourism resources. In 2017, tourism and other service industries accounted for 65% of GDP.

Trade Overview

The main export destinations of São Tomé and Príncipe are the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and Germany, and the main export goods are cocoa, steel products, coffee, dried coconut and palm kernels. The main origins for imports are Portugal, Angola, China, and Brazil. The main import goods are grain, fuel, industrial products, and consumer goods.

In 2019, the total trade volume of commodities between China and São Tomé and Príncipe was US$ 8.934 million. Chinese exports took a larger part. The main export goods were flat rolled iron or non-alloy steel, small passenger cars and steel plates.

Economic Indicator

2017(a)

2018(a)

2019(b)

2020(c)

Surface area (sq. km)

1,001

1,001

1,001

1,001

Population (thousand)

207

211

215

Real GDP growth rate (%)

381.8

456.0(b)

482.8

Total exports (US$ million)

3.9

2.79(b)

2.3

-5.6

Total imports (US$ million)

16.0

16.0

15.3

8.4

Consumer Price Index (%)

-127.0

-133.0

-134.5

-86.8

Current account balance (US$ million)

5.7

7.9

7.2(a)

3.0

Real GDP growth rate (%)

-74.4

-64.1

-60.2

-21.7

Exchange Rate (São Tomé and Príncipe dobra STD: US dollars USD)

21.7

20.8

21.9(a)

22.2

Remarks: (a) actual value; (b) estimated value of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU); (c) estimates of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Source: Country Report May 2020 (São Tomé and Príncipe) by British Economist Intelligence Unit

 

Main export and import destinations

Main export destinations (2018)

Proportion in total exports (%)

The Netherlands

37.8

Portugal

24.1

Belgium

17.7

Germany

9.5

Others

10.9

Main source of import (2018)

Proportion in total imports (%)

Portugal

53.7

Angola

23.2

China

5.8

Brazil

1.6

Others

15.9

Source: International Trade Center (ITC)

 

Main export and import goods

Major export goods (2018)

Proportion in total exports (%)

Cocoa and cocoa products

69.5

Optical, photography, film photography, metrology, inspection, precision, medical or surgical instruments and appliances; their parts and accessories

10.7

Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts

5.8

Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and relevant spare parts

3.0

Others

11.0

Major import goods (2018)

Proportion in total imports (%)

Fossil fuels, mineral oil and its distilled products; bituminous substances; mineral wax

22.1

Electrical machinery and equipment and their parts; recorders and sound speakers, television image and sound recorders and speakers, and parts and accessories

8.0

Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and relevant spare parts

7.8

Drinks, wine and vinegar

6.8

Others

55.3

Source: International Trade Center (ITC)

 

Statistics on the trade between Mainland China and São Tomé and Príncipe (US$ 10,000)

Year

Total trade

Total exports*

Total imports**

2019

893.4

892.1

1.4

2018

730.5

725.5

5

2017

690.3

690.2

0.1

2016

642.2

640.4

1.8

2015

790.4

787.1

3.3

Remarks: * Value of goods exported to São Tomé and Príncipe from Mainland China; **Value of goods imported from São Tomé and Príncipe to Mainland China
Source of Data: General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China

Source of Data:

  • People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China
  • Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
  • SinoMaps Press
  • International Trade Center (ITC)
  • Country Report May 2020 (São Tomé and Príncipe) by the British Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Doing Business 2020 by the World Bank

Updated in May 2020.