flag Macao SAR, China Macao SAR, China: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

A small open economy dependent on tourism and gambling, Macau is part of the People's Republic of China and has had the status of Special Administrative Region (SAR) since 1999. After some years of growth, economy went into deficit in 2019 (-2.6% of GDP), due to decreases in revenue at casino concessionaries and then plummeted to -56.3% in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, before reaching +20.4% in 2021. According to the updated 2022 IMF forecasts GDP is expected to pick up to 37.6% in 2022 and 26% in 2023, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery. In fact, Macau's economy continues to struggle in 2022 owing to the shock delivered to global tourism flows by the COVID-19, which has decimated the local casino sector with an 80% drop in the number of visitor in 2020.

The SAR's current account increased to 33.6% of GDP in 2019 but then plummeted to -34.2% in 2020 before coming back to -18.4% in 2021 (IMF, 2022). It is expected to come back to positive territory at +8.9% in 2022 and +24.5% in 2023. According to the latest World Economic Outlook of the IMF (2022), inflation fell to 0.8% in 2020 and -0.3% in 2021. it is expected to reach 2% in 2022, driven by housing, food, and energy prices. To counter its effects of inflation and redistribute the country's wealth, the government intends to pursue money transfers via the Wealth Partaking Scheme and lower taxation. Macau has benefited from the administration's prudent management of the economy, which aims at fiscal discipline and financial stability and providing a strong external position. The country's economy is still heavily dependent on the gambling industry, with the casino sector representing over 70% of Macau's tax revenue and employing one-fifth of the active workforce. It is estimated that Macau - with yearly gross gaming revenue around USD 28 billion - generates three times more gambling revenue compared to Las Vegas. The government is trying to diversify the economy, particularly through tourism and recreation. The country is also facing to rising credit and rising property prices. China intends to promote Macau's economy, giving it concessions to build a new university and industries in the Chinese territory. Macau's heritage as a former Portuguese colony gives China the prospect that it could become a potential interface with Portuguese-speaking countries. To shed its reputation as a tax haven, Macau has signed transparency agreements with several countries. By contrast, worsening of trade tensions between United States and Mainland China could significantly impact Macau economy, via a fall in tourism inflows from the Mainland.

Pre-COVID Macau was a flourishing territory where the unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the area (2.3% in 2020, IMF). Macau’s general unemployment rate for 2021 increased to 2.9%, its highest reported since 2009. Life expectancy is one of the highest in Asia (83 years). However, Caritas - one of the largest charities operating within Macau - estimates around 10% of the population lives in poverty and 7% struggles to meet basic food needs. The GDP per capita at USD 43 775 (CEIC, 2022) is not only over three times higher than the People's Republic of China, but it is also one of the highest globally. The territory is the most densely populated area in the world (20,164 people per sq. km) and there is a growing discontent related to immigration and escalating costs of living. Government officials are hand-picked by Chinese officials, creating potential disconnects between citizens and legislative decisions in the city.

 
Main Indicators 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 55.1524.3329.2241.8554.25
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -2.6-56.320.437.626.0
GDP per Capita (USD) 81,15735,621e42,10759,11475,354
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 0.00.00.00.00.0
Inflation Rate (%) 2.80.80.02.82.7
Current Account (billions USD) 18.56-8.31-5.413.7213.30
Current Account (in % of GDP) 33.6-34.2-18.58.924.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - October 2021.

Note: (e) Estimated Data


 
Monetary Indicators 20142015201620182019
Macau Pataca (MOP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 2.152.152.001.761.56

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

Main Sectors of Industry

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 0.4 9.7 89.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) n/a 4.2 94.0
Value Added (Annual % Change) n/a 5.5 -2.7

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
Socio-Demographic Indicators 20212022 (e)2023 (e)
Unemployment Rate (%) 2.92.51.8

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - Latest available data

 

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The Active Population in Figures

201820192020
Labour Force 383,791384,360394,521

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

 
201720182019
Total activity rate 77.62%78.17%78.15%
Men activity rate 83.28%84.16%84.39%
Women activity rate 72.50%72.76%72.51%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
70.3/100
World Rank:
34/178
Regional Rank:
9/42

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Macau News
Macau Newspapers online
BBC Country Profile, Macau
Useful Resources
Department of Finance
Department of Economy
Monetary Authority
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2022