Gross Domestic Product (GDP): US$6.1 billion (MPtc49.2
preliminary official estimate for 1999, when GDP growth was estimated
at -2.9 percent.
For 1999 GDP per capita was estimated at US$14,145. Per capita GPD
steadily decreasing since 1997, when it reached a high of US$16,729.
Industry: Major activities are textile and garment manufacturing,
83.8 percent of principal domestic exports in 1999. Other major sectors are footwear, electronics, and toys. Mainland China provides
most of Macau's raw materials.
Agriculture and Fishing: Traditionally, fishing and harvesting oysters has been the major form of food production. However,
meat production in 1996 was 1,246 metric tons of buffaloes and 10,938 metric tons of pigs slaughtered; declining catches led to the
suspension of fishing in July 1996. In the previous two years, only 1,900 metric tons (1994) and 1,600 metric tons (1995) of seafood
Decorated fishing boats were part of the celebration of the reversion of Macau to China on
1999. Courtesy Catherina
Pang, Hong Kong
Collection, Library of
Labor Force: In 1999,
Macau's labor force totaled around
217,000. Most (27.9 percent)
workers were in public administration
and personal and social services;
26.2 percent in wholesale, retail,
restaurant, and hotel trades; 22
percent in manufacturing, 8.1 in
construction and public works; 7.8
percent in financial activities, real
estate, leasing, and commercial
services; 7.4 percent in transportation
and communications; and 0.6
percent in other services. Nearly 13
percent of Macau's labor force is
made up of mainland construction
workers and Filipino shop and
restaurant employees; a presence that
was the cause of demonstrations in
May and July 2000.
Unemployment Rate: The official average unemployment rate was 4.3 for 1996, 3.2 for 1997, and 4.6 for 1998; unemployment
jumped to 6.5 in 1999. For the January-June 2000 period, the rate reached 7 percent and, unofficially, may have been higher.
Trade: In 1999, Macau's free-market economy produced total exports of US$2.2 billion (MPtc 17.6 billion) and consisted mainly of
textiles and garments, toys, electronic goods, and footwear. Total imports for the same period reached US$2 billion (MPtc 16.3 billion),
and consisted mostly of raw materials and semi-manufactures, consumer goods, capital goods, and mineral fuels and oils. Total
reexports were about US$317 million (MPtc 2.5 billion). In 1999 positive growth rates were seen in all three categories. Principal
import trade partners in 1999 were China (35.7 percent), Hong Kong (18.1 percent), the European Union (12.9 percent), Taiwan (9.5
percent), Japan (6.7 percent), the United States (5.1 percent), and other countries (12 percent). Exports went to the United States (47
percent), the European Union (30.2 percent), China (9.2), Hong Kong (6.8 percent), and other countries (6.8 percent).
In the second half of the twentieth century, Macau's economy was diversified with the development of light industry, the influx of
migrants from mainland China to serve as a labor force, and increased tourism. Portugal's efforts to develop economic and cultural
links between Macau and Brazil and Portuguese holdings in Africa, however, were not successful. Economic ties to the European
Union and Taiwan are considered important aspects of Macau's economic role as part of the People's Republic of China. Direct access
to the neighboring Zhuhai Special Economic Zone facilitates trade with mainland China. As a special administrative region, Macau
functions as a free port and as a separate customs territory.
Numerous small shops serve the people of Macau
Courtesy Robert L. Worden
Financial Institutions: Two banks issue currency: the Banco Nacional
and the Bank of China (starting in October 1995). There are twenty other
banks, sixteen of which are foreign. Macau has five of the top 500 commercial
banks in Asia,
including Banco Tai Fung (Tai Fung Bank) and Banco Seng Heng (Seng Heng
Currency/Exchange Rate: US$1 = Macau patacas (MPtc, M$, or
(August 7, 2000). One pataca divides into 100 avos. Coins are issued in 10,
20, and 50
avos and 1 and 5 patacas; notes are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 pataca
denominations. Hong Kong currency is freely used and represents about two-thirds of the
circulation. The new banknotes were issued by the Bank of China and the
Nacional Ultramarino on December 20, 1999, and are fully convertible to
Tourism: Major source of foreign exchange (US$1.9 billion in 1993);
estimated 30 percent of labor force and contributed estimated 45 percent GNP
According to official figures for 1999, some 7.4 million persons visited
Nearly 57 percent came from Hong Kong, 22 percent from mainland China, 13 percent from Taiwan, and 8 percent from other sources.
Most made short, overnight visits. Overall, tourism declined in the 1990s but increased in 1999.
Gambling: Gambling has been licensed since 1850 and has always been an important source of revenue for the government. In the
early 1960s, gambling provided 50 percent of Macau's official revenue. Starting in 1962, the gambling industry has been operated
under a government-issued monopoly license by the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (Macau Tourism and Entertainment
Corporation). Macau had nine casinos in the 1990s; gambling reportedly represented 20 to 25 percent of Macau's GDP. Direct taxes on
gambling were 44.5 percent of total government revenue in 1998, up from 40.1 percent in 1997. In 1999, however, there was a 9.1
percent decrease in this sector.
Internet gaming, with its worldwide
access, was scheduled to be
initiated in Macau in Summer 2000.
The monopoly license of the
Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de
Macau expires in 2001.
Organized crime is reported to be
heavily involved in gambling in
Macau (see Organized Crime, q.v.).
Fiscal Year: January
Data as of August 7, 2000