Djibouti’s economy is based on service activities connected with the country’s strategic location as a deepwater port on the Red Sea. Three-fourths of Djibouti’s inhabitants live in the capital city; the remainder are mostly nomadic herders. Scant rainfall and less than 4% arable land limits crop production to small quantities of fruits and vegetables, and most food must be imported.
Djibouti provides services as both a transit port for the region and an international transshipment and refueling center. Imports, exports, and re-exports – primarily of coffee from landlocked neighbor Ethiopia – represent 70% of port activity at Djibouti’s container terminal. Djibouti has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An official unemployment rate of nearly 50% – with youth unemployment near 80% – continues to be a major problem. Inflation declined to 3% in 2014 due to low international food prices and a decline in electricity tariffs.
Djibouti’s reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food and water leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks, though in mid-2015 Djibouti passed new legislation to liberalize the energy sector. The government has emphasized infrastructure development for transportation and energy and Djibouti – with the help of foreign partners – has begun to increase and modernize its port capacity.
Djibouti was designated as AGOA Eligible Country on October 2nd 2000. Djibouti has not yet been declared eligible for Apparel Provision and does not benefit the Lesser Developed Country Special Rule for Apparel (3rd country fabric) nor Lesser Developed Country Rule for Certain Textile Articles (Category 0). Regarding the Category 9 Textile Products, Djibouti is not yet eligible to export Handloomed / Handmade, nor the folklore annex and ethnic printed fabrics.