Foreign Trade and Assistance
Because of the overall decline in productivity after independence, Angola has become increasingly dependent on foreign trade and assistance to meet its domestic needs. It has also become dependent on oil export earnings to fund imports. Traditionally, the most important imports have been machinery items, especially equipment for the oil industry. By the mid-1980s, however, military equipment and food were becoming Angola's most important imports. The country continued to export most of its oil to the West, in particular the United States. The Soviet Union, as the country's arms supplier, and France and the United States, as suppliers of oil equipment, were the country's major import partners. Assistance from individual foreign countries and international organizations was also becoming increasingly important to Angola because of its mounting food crisis.
Only by severely limiting imports has the government been able to prevent a serious crisis in the balance of payments account. In the 1980s, the Ministry of Planning, in consultation with the National Bank of Angola (Banco Nacional de Angola--BNA), the Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade, and other ministries drew up an annual foreign trade budget as part of the annual national plan. This plan set ceilings for categories of imports in each sector of the economy, and import quotas were then allocated to individual companies. For each foreign order, the importing company was required to submit invoices and apply to the Ministry of Domestic and Foreign Trade for an import license. Most imports were brought in by state foreign trade companies and new regional import-export companies. However, the oil companies enjoyed foreign exchange autonomy and imported their equipment directly.
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