flag Yemen Yemen: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

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Yemen has been involved in a conflict since early 2015. For many years the poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), it is now experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The country is currently divided into two territories: the north and the capital Sana'a are controlled by Houthi rebels; whereas in the south there are two entities, the loyalists guided by the internationally recognised government of President Hadi and the autonomist Southern Transitional Council, led by Aidarous al-Zubaid and supported by Saudi Arabia. In April 2022, President Hadi resigned and transferred power to a leadership council formed of eight members, tasked with negotiating with the Houthis to agree on a permanent ceasefire and a political solution to the war. Yemen suffers from structural deficiencies and the current conflict exacerbates the situation. The ongoing war has destroyed Yemen's economy: it has essentially eliminated the country's exports, weakened the national currency, exacerbated inflation, limited food and fuel imports, and damaged infrastructure. The IMF estimated that GDP growth was negative by 8.5% in 2020 and by 1% in 2021 as private consumption, by far the main economic component, has constantly weakened because of shortages of basic goods and a steep rise in inflation. Economic output stabilized with modest economic growth of around 2% in 2022, which should slightly accelerate to 3.3% in 2023, albeit with considerable uncertainty regarding the evolution of the conflict and the availability of external financing.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, Yemen has lost more than half of its GDP. Hydrocarbon production and export were largely suspended, as well as investments. At the same time, low foreign reserves severely reduced Yemen's import capacities, causing a shortage of food, medicine and fuel. In 2022, the fiscal deficit remained unchanged at 2.2% of GDP, as the expiration of the truce and subsequent oil export constraints curbed revenues in the last quarter of the year, offsetting the balanced budget recorded in the first three quarters. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced a USD 3.3 billion financing assistance package, including USD 2 billion in deposits at the Central Bank of Yemen. Moreover, the authorities have introduced an FX auction system and eliminated the administered budget exchange rates, including for oil revenues, helping reduce the budget deficit and recourse to financing from the central bank (IMF). The debt-to-GDP ratio, estimated at 54% in 2022, is expected to follow a downward trend over the forecast horizon (48.4% in 2023 and 45.3% in 2024). According to the World Bank, economic stability both in the short and medium term remains contingent on mobilizing additional and sustainable external financing. The conflict has heavily jeopardized oil sector activity as well as Yemen's capability to attract foreign investment. The spike in global commodity prices affected Yemen’s inflation rate, which rose to more than 40% in 2022, though unevenly across the territory. A more stable exchange rate and the recent decline in global food prices are expected to translate into lower inflation in 2023 (17.1% as per the IMF projections).

The country has one of the lowest GDP per capita (PPP) in the world, estimated at USD 2,042 in 2023 by the IMF. The country has long been one of the poorest in the MENA region and the conflict caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises: the UN estimated that 24.1 million people in 2023 were at risk of hunger and disease, and roughly 14 million were in acute need of assistance. Approximately 18 million of its citizens lack access to safe water and sanitation; moreover, an alarming 16.2 million people urgently require emergency aid due to food insecurity and malnutrition, leading to recurring outbreaks of preventable diseases like cholera, diphtheria, measles, and dengue fever (World Bank).

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 23.5521.0521.8925.1928.37
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.5-
GDP per Capita (USD) 707618628707780
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 66.066.456.145.638.0
Inflation Rate (%) n/a14.917.313.711.2
Current Account (billions USD) -4.20-4.09-3.05-1.86-0.88
Current Account (in % of GDP) -17.8-19.4-13.9-7.4-3.1

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

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Yemeni Rial (YER) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GHS 53.8649.3946.8694.81132.42

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture accounted for 24.1% of GDP in 2017. Products included grain, fruits, vegetables, pulses, qat, coffee, cotton, dairy products, livestock, poultry, and fish.

Industry accounted for 14.3% in 2017. It included crude oil production and petroleum refining, small-scale production of cotton textiles, leather goods, food processing, handicrafts, aluminum products, cement, commercial ship repair, and natural gas production.

Services accounted for the remaining 61.6% of GDP in 2017.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 28.1 11.7 60.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 17.2 15.2 25.0
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.1 -5.2 -4.9

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 6,561,7776,793,4686,956,391

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 38.97%39.19%39.39%
Men activity rate 71.41%71.84%72.21%
Women activity rate 6.26%6.27%6.29%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


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.

Mostly Unfree
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

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


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Yemen Newspapers online
Yemen Newspapers and News Sites
Yemen News
BBC Country Profile, Yemen
Useful Resources
Yemen Finance Ministry (in Arabic)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
Central Bank

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Latest Update: December 2023