Cablegate: What Is Zimbabwe's Gdp?
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
020637Z Sep 03
UNCLAS HARARE 001725
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: What is Zimbabwe's GDP?
1. Summary: Sources differ widely about Zimbabwe's
present gross domestic product (GDP). It may be as low
as US$3.5 billion. End Summary.
2. The GOZ's Central Statistical Office stopped
publishing GDP figures in 1995, just before the country
began its relentless downhill slide.
Misleading World Factbook Stats
3. The CIA's World Factbook estimates GDP at US$28
billion or US$2,400/per capita using purchasing power
parity. This is wildly overstated, perhaps because the
World Factbook converts Zimdollar totals at official
exchange rates. However, casual Internet surfing
suggests most reports, almanacs and country profiles rely
solely on World Factbook numbers.
4. Given the unavailability of official data, local
economists use a variety of means to determine GDP.
There is no foolproof approach. The International
Monetary Fund estimated GDP at US$6.4 billion in recent
documentation arising from Article IV consultations.
5. Extrapolating data from the GOZ's supplementary budget
announcement, we arrive at a considerably lower total.
The GOZ estimates 2003 public spending at Z$1.442
trillion (US$257 million), or - the Government boasts -
now just 7.3 percent of GDP. (Interestingly, foreign
food assistance is almost as large as the national
budget.) Although the GOZ doesn't do the math for us, it
assumes a GDP of only US$3.5 billion when converting at
the present parallel exchange rate of Z$5600:US$1. GDP
comes to about US$24 billion when converting at the
unsupported official rate of Z$824:US$1, but there is no
market rationale for exchange at this level. Assuming a
population of 12 million, the per capita GDP would be
US$293 at parallel and US$2,000 at official exchange
rates. Reading between the lines of GOZ pronouncements
is an imperfect means of calculating GDP, but probably no
worse than other methods floating around.