The small industrial sector is mainly concentrated on the processing of agricultural commodities for export, mainly processing of vanilla and ylang-ylang on the island of Anjouan.
One obstacle to increased export of ylang-ylang (flowers from a tree used to produce the perfume essence) is the lack of firewood needed for distilling the raw material. The development of the industry is hampered by too small a home market and high transport costs for exports.
The Comoros have historically been an important link in regional trade. Nowadays, the country has a large deficit in trade with the outside world; import costs have long been several times greater than export income.
The most important export products are vanilla, cloves and ylang-ylang (flowers used to make perfume essence). Much of the exports go to the old colonial power of France, but Turkey is also an important export country. Imports mainly consist of food, oil products and vehicles. France and the United Arab Emirates are major importers of Comorian goods.
In an agreement with the Comoros, the EU has promised to compensate the country for falling prices on its export crops. The EU’s fisheries agreement with the Comoros (see Agriculture and Fisheries) includes assistance in the development of the country’s infrastructure, mainly port facilities. This is primarily aimed at enabling European vessels to land their catches in the Comoros.
FACTS – FOREIGN TRADE
US $ 20 million (2012)
US $ 218 million (2012)
– US $ 41 million (2012)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
29 percent (2018)
Main export goods
cloves, ylang-ylang (for perfume essence), vanilla
Largest trading partner
France, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
The Comoros have beautiful scenery, excellent beaches and water suitable for diving. In addition, there is an interesting Muslim cultural heritage similar to that which attracts many tourists to, for example, Zanzibar in Tanzania.
However, the constant political crises have frightened many tourists. Among those who still visit the islands, Frenchmen and expatriates are the largest groups.
FACTS – TOURISM
Number of foreign visitors per year
US $ 39,300,000 (2012)
The share of tourist income from exports
43.9 percent (2012)
Protests create problems
Business and public communications in Moroni are paralyzed for two days as a result of protests against the rise in gasoline prices. The protest actions are supported by trade unions and political opposition.
Raised gasoline prices cause concern
The government raises the price of gasoline, leading to social unrest around the country.
New government is presented
President Sambi resigns and is succeeded by his ally Ikililou Dhoinine, who will present his new government in the same month.