The composition of commodity (also called visible) exports shifted over time. Before World War II, raw cotton made up 90 percent of total export value, but by 1970 it had dropped to 45 percent. Cotton textiles, meanwhile, rose to represent 16 percent in 1970. In the 1970s and 1980s, oil and petroleum products dominated the export list, reaching about 79 percent of the total in 1985. This share, however, fell with the drop in oil prices in 1986.
Non-oil exports stagnated and in some years decreased. For example, textile exports fell from US$267 million in 1979 to US$199 million in 1983. They increased after the government gave incentives to exporters, permitting them to retain their foreignexchange earnings and to convert them at the free-market rate. The drop in the oil price in 1986, however, led to a serious decline of roughly 22 percent in the overall value of exports between 1985 and 1988. Economists advised that the country should strive to increase exports of textiles and other manufactured products in the long run, because of the volatility of raw material prices and the potential rapid depletion of some natural resources, especially oil.
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