Angola Table of Contents
Until the dramatic fall in world oil prices in 1985 and 1986, the most dominant feature of the external economy since independence had been the large increase in oil export earnings (see table 6, Appendix A). By 1985 crude oil exports were more than eight times their 1973 level. At the same time, however, there was a precipitous drop in other exports, most notably coffee and diamonds, leaving Angola almost completely dependent on oil for export earnings. In 1988, for example, oil revenue represented nearly 90 percent of total export earnings. Nevertheless, the strong performance of the oil sector, combined with stringent import controls, resulted in continuing trade surpluses, which by 1985 had risen to US$740 million.
The country's principal trading partners, except for the Soviet Union, continued to be Western nations. The United States has been the main market for oil and thus the leading importer by far of Angolan goods since at least 1980. Angola's other main Western markets were Spain, Britain, Brazil, and the Netherlands. Spain, in particular, substantially increased its trade with Angola by importing a record US$300 million worth of goods in 1985, ten times the 1980 level. Angola's principal Western sources of goods were the United States, France, and Portugal (suppliers of oil industry equipment), but an increasing amount of goods came from Brazil. The Soviet Union, because of the large amount of arms it supplied, emerged as the major source of imports. Angola has also developed close trade ties with Zimbabwe, importing corn for local consumption and blankets to use as items of barter in rural marketing campaigns.
Since 1979 Angola has imported an increasing amount of foodstuffs from Western nations. In particular, it has imported wheat from the European Economic Community (EEC) and Canada, increasing from 83,000 tons in 1980 to 205,000 tons the following year and dropping to an average of 160,000 tons per year from 1982 to 1986. Likewise, Angola imported meat (100,000 tons in 1985) and milk (400,000 tons in 1985) from the West.
Because of the sharp drop in oil prices in 1986, imports were severely limited by the government. The government suspended the issue of import licenses except when importers obtained credit abroad or had their own foreign exchange. Capital goods imports were slashed, as were consumer goods, spare parts, and some industrial inputs. Military purchases were not cut, however, nor were imports of food, pharmaceuticals, goods for rural marketing campaigns, and oil industry equipment.
Data as of February 1989