Economic and Political Overview

flag Madagascar Madagascar: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


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.

Despite being rich in natural resources, Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world. Political instability, weak institutions and poor governance have been impediments to the country's economic growth. Economic activity, which displayed a certain dynamism until 2019, contracted by an estimated -6.1% in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 (IMF). Economic activity gradually recovered in 2021, with GDP growth reaching an estimated 2.9%, supported by the mining, textile, and service sectors (IMF). Growth is expected to further strengthen to 4.8% in 2022 and 5.1% in 2023 (IMF). Risk factors that can affect growth include social fragility, fiscal imbalances and vulnerability to external shocks.

The economy of Madagascar was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the fall of tourism activities, exports and lower domestic demand. As tax revenues decreased sharply, the fiscal situation deteriorated, the domestic primary balance turning from a small surplus to a deficit. In 2021, the economy started to recover, but public finances continued to deteriorate. Public deficit reached 6.6% GDP in 2021 and is forecast to amount to 6.1% GDP in 2022 according to the 2022 budget. Public debt (almost exclusively concessional) increased from 46% GDP in 2020 to 48.8% GDP in 2021, but remains sustainable. It is expected to further increase to 49.3% GDP in 2022 and 49.4% GDP in 2023 (IMF). Mainly driven by food products and imports, inflation increased from 4.2% in 2020 to 6% in 2021, and is expected to reach 6.4% in 2022 and 6.2% in 2023 (IMF). The IMF called for prompt policy action to support the poor. In March 2021, the IMF and Malagasy authorities agreed on a medium-term program of about USD 320 million under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). This program aims at supporting recovery, preserving macroeconomic stability, rebuilding fiscal space and advancing reforms. The authorities are also committed to pursue the delayed Madagascar Emergence Plan 2019/2023, that aims to stimulate the country's economic growth through an increase in public and private investments, the strengthening of human capital and the improvement of governance. Among the country's persistent socio-economic challenges are poverty, corruption and the infrastructure deficit.

The ILO estimates the unemployment rate in Madagascar in 2020 at 1.9% of the total active population, but Madagascar’s living conditions remain among the lowest in the world. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty concerned almost three quarters of the population in 2019, and the pandemic worsened the situation. The ongoing famine in the South of the country is a major concern. Malagasy people have a low life expectancy due to poor living conditions, particularly in matters of sanitation and hygiene. According to WaterAid Madagascar, around 70% of the population does not have access to adequate sanitation and 89% of Malagasy people do not have access to improved toilets. As a result, there is a high risk of the spread of major infectious diseases among the population. More than half of the country's children suffer from a serious form of malnutrition. In addition, the country remains extremely vulnerable to climate shocks, such as hurricanes, floods, locust infestations and public health crises. The south of the country faces security concerns due to armed robbery of livestock.

Main Indicators 20202021202220232024
GDP (billions USD) 13.0614.2815.1116.0617.18
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 478507522540562
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 50.853.153.853.153.6
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -0.70-0.70-0.82-0.82-0.87
Current Account (in % of GDP) -5.4-4.9-5.4-5.1-5.1

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

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Madagascar is the leading exporter of vanilla in the world. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, accounts for 25.1% of GDP and employs 64% of the population according to World Bank data (even though the majority of inhabitants practice subsistence farming). The main crop is rice, grown on almost half of the agricultural land. The main other agricultural products are: coffee, sugar cane, cloves, cocoa, cassava, beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock products. The agricultural sector is limited by low productivity due to the minimal use of modern agricultural techniques, the lack of infrastructure and a great vulnerability to climatic fluctuations, but benefits from numerous ongoing investments aimed at meeting these challenges. Deforestation and erosion, compounded by excessive use of firewood, are of serious concern.

The industrial sector contributes 19.5% of GDP and employs 9% of the active population (World Bank). It is dominated by mining (precious stones including rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.), textiles and agro-industry. Other business sectors include soap making, glassware, cement, automotive assembly, paper and petroleum.

The tertiary sector contributes to 49.6% of the GDP and employs 27% of the active population. Trade has performed well in recent years (with growth of around 5% per year), as well as tourism, which is one of the main assets of the country and whose potential is still untapped.

Madagascar's economy suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism, mining, vanilla production and textile were the most impacted sectors.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 64.1 8.7 27.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 24.7 19.5 50.4
Value Added (Annual % Change) -1.4 -21.6 -4.8

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Malagasy Ariary (MGA) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 89.3790.3798.27101.9296.27

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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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.

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.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade accounts for 49% of Madagascar’s GDP (World Bank), a country that collects a large share of its revenues in the form of customs duties, import taxes and VAT on imports. Madagascar is the 139th exporting economy in the world and the 137th importer. The country is a member of the WTO and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and does not have significant non-tariff barriers. In addition, most products can be imported without an import license. The country mainly exports vanilla (26.1%), clothing (11.4%), raw nickel (7.3%), crustaceans (5%), titanium ores (4.9%), essential oils (3.6%), gold (3.5%) and cloves (3.35). Its main imports are petroleum oils (11.4%), rice (5.6%), medicines (3.2%), palm oil (3%), fabrics (2.3%) and motor vehicles (1.9%).

Madagascar's main customers are France (23.1% of total exports), the United States, Germany, China and the Netherlands. Its main suppliers are China (25.4% of total imports), India, France, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa. Despite its abundant resources, Madagascar still struggles to channel its trade revenues into further development. Like other island states, Madagascar faces high transportation costs. The lack of well-developed infrastructure makes commercial transactions expensive, hindering private sector competitiveness. However, the country aims to improve logistics at the main ports and airports in order to improve trade.  While the European Union is by far the largest client of Malagasy products, exports to member states of North American Free Trade Agreement have received a huge boost since 2017 following a decision by the United States to reinstate Madagascar in its trade preference programme (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).

The country's trade balance has been traditionally negative and despite a steady increase in exports, this trend is unlikely to be reversed over the medium-term as imports continue to outpace exports. In 2020, merchandise exports amounted to USD 1.99 billion, while imports reached USD 3.22 billion. Exports of services amounted to USD 626 million, and imports reached USD 650 billion (WTO). In 2020, exports of goods and services decreased by -11.7% compared to 2019 while imports increased by 6.6%. Exports of mining products, vanilla and textiles were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,6704,0613,9423,2244,408
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,8483,1102,6961,9872,726
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,0891,1231,0226501,180
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,2441,3411,449626589
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 23.711.14.6-16.67.4
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 45.42.410.9-36.611.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.436.334.228.929.4
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 30.931.528.420.121.0
Trade Balance (million USD) -450-458-844-900-969
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -344-414-603-1,129-1,427
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 65.367.862.649.050.4

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
France 19.2%
United States 18.1%
China 13.2%
Japan 8.7%
Netherlands 5.2%
See More Countries 35.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 19.4%
France 10.2%
Oman 10.2%
India 8.3%
United Arab Emirates 5.9%
See More Countries 46.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

2.8 bn USD of products exported in 2021
VanillaVanilla 22.2%
Unwrought nickelUnwrought nickel 18.4%
Titanium ores and concentratesTitanium ores and concentrates 5.0%
Cloves, whole fruit, cloves and stemsCloves, whole fruit, cloves and stems 4.2%
Cobalt mattes and other intermediate products of...Cobalt mattes and other intermediate products of cobalt metallurgy; cobalt and articles thereof, n.e.s.; cobalt waste and scrap (excl. ash and residues containing cobalt) 3.9%
See More Products 46.3%
4.4 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 13.6%
RiceRice 6.2%
Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30...Fabrics, knitted or crocheted, of a width of > 30 cm (excl. warp knit fabrics "incl. those made on galloon knitting machines", those containing by weight >= 5% of elastomeric yarn or rubber thread, and pile fabrics, incl. "long pile", looped pile fabrics, labels, badges and similar articles, and knitted or crocheted fabrics, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated) 2.7%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined...Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 2.6%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.5%
See More Products 72.4%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Andry RAJOELINA (since 21 January 2019)
Prime Minister: Christian NTSAY (since 6 June 2018 and re-appointed 19 July 2019)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2023
Senate: 2021
National Assembly: 2024
Main Political Parties
AREMA: leader Didier RATSIRAKA
IRD: Coalition of 10 parties lead by Andry RAJOELINA
Type of State
Democratic Republic.
Executive Power
The President of the Republic is elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term, renewable twice. He appoints the Prime Minister. He can dissolve the National Assembly, which can for its part vote a motion of censure demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and his government.
Legislative Power
Legislative power is shared between the government and the two chambers (Senate and National Assembly). The National Assembly is made up of 160 representatives elected by direct suffrage every five years. The Senate is made up of 90 senators, two thirds of whom are elected by local legislators. The other third are appointed by the President, all for a six-year term.

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:

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.

Partly Free
Political Freedom:

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


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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID19 disease in Madagascar, please visit the Ministry of Public Health (MSANP) with the official data.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest public health situation in Madagascar and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the official governmental portal on COVID-19 including the up-to-date information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For the information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the portal of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Madagascar on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Madagascan government to address the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the Madagascan economy, please visit the website of the Madagascan Ministry of Economy and Finance.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Madagascan government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Madagascar in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For the information on the local business support scheme established by the Madagascan government to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the information about COVID19 on the portal of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Groupement des Enterprises de Madagascar.

For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters
To find out about the support plan for exporters put in place by the Madagascan government, please consult the Groupement des Enterprises de Madagascar website.

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Latest Update: March 2023