According to countryaah, Swaziland’s economy is relatively developed and diversified, but suffers from significant socio-economic inequalities. The economy is closely linked to South Africa through ownership, trade, finance and currency policy and membership in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
Agriculture and forestry are the most important industries. The majority of the economically active population is active in related industries or self-sustaining farms, where maize and cotton cultivation as well as livestock care are the main activities. The most important crop is sugar cane, which is grown mainly on larger artificial irrigated plantations. Swaziland is also a major producer of citrus fruits and pineapples, which are preserved for export. Forest plantations cover 6 percent of Swaziland’s area and include the Usutu dominated by South African interests, which with 65,000 ha is one of the world’s largest landscaped forests. In 2011, however, the country’s only pulp mill was closed.
The mining industry has declined, and since the country’s diamond deposits began to be mine, only coal and stone have been mined.
The industrial sector is mainly built around food production and processing of agricultural products. The tourism industry is also important. During the 1990s, the trade balance showed an increasing deficit, and so has been the case since 2005 after a period of surplus in the early 00s. Significant income from SACU has declined, as have transfers from the shrinking number of Swaziland miners in South Africa. Swaziland’s main export products are fruit concentrates for beverages, sugars, fresh and canned fruits and cotton yarns and refrigerators. Imports are dominated by machinery, workshop products and fuels. South Africa is the completely dominant trading partner, with 50 percent of exports and over 90 percent of imports.