Appendix IX Classification of Countries

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
September 1986
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The classification scheme used in the preparation of this Report is as follows.1Industrial countries comprise:

BelgiumGermany, Fed. Rep. ofLuxembourgSweden
DenmarkIrelandNew ZealandUnited Kingdom
United States

The seven largest countries in this group in terms of gross national product (GNP)—Canada, the United States, Japan, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom—are collectively referred to as the major industrial countries.

The developing countries include all other Fund members (as of January 1, 1986) together with certain essentially autonomous dependent territories for which adequate statistics are available.2 The regional breakdowns of data for developing countries conform to the regional classification used in the Fund’s International Financial Statistics (IFS). It should be noted that, in this classification, Egypt and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya are classified as part of the Middle East, not Africa.

The analytical groupings in this classification are (1) countries grouped by predominant export; (2) countries grouped by financial criteria; (3) countries grouped by other criteria; and (4) countries grouped by the former classification criteria. At present, the financial criteria first distinguish among capital exporting and capital importing countries. Countries in the latter, much larger group are then distinguished on the basis of two additional financial criteria: by predominant type of creditor and by the degree of debt-servicing difficulties faced by countries. The country groups shown under the heading of “by miscellaneous criteria” include capital importing fuel exporters; 15 heavily indebted countries; small low-income countries; and sub-Saharan Africa (excluding Nigeria and South Africa). The accompanying table presents a breakdown of these analytical groupings according to the proportion of developing country gross domestic product (GDP), exports of goods and services, and level of indebtedness. Further details on the classification scheme are given below.

The first analytical criterion used to group developing countries is by predominant export category. Four categories are distinguished: fuel (Standard International Trade Classification—SITC 3); other primary commodities (SITC 0,1,2,4, and diamonds and gemstones); manufactures (SITC 5 to 8, less diamonds and gemstones); and “services and remittances.” On the basis of data for 1980, countries are assigned to the commodity grouping that accounts for 50 percent or more of their exports. Specifically, countries are assigned to the “services and remittances” category if their receipts on these transactions account for at least half of their exports of goods and services. If countries do not meet this criterion, they are assigned to the trade category (of the three listed above) that accounts for at least half of their total merchandise exports.3

Given these definitions, the fuel exporters comprise:

AlgeriaIndonesiaMexicoSyrian Arab Rep.
BahrainIran, Islamic Rep. ofNigeriaTrinidad and Tobago
EcuadorKuwaitQatarUnited Arab Emirates
GabonLibyan Arab JamahiriyaSaudi ArabiaVenezuela

The primary product exporters, that is, countries whose exports of agricultural and mineral primary products other than fuel accounted for over 50 percent of their total exports in 1980, comprise:

AfghanistanCote d’IvoireLiberiaSierra Leone
ArgentinaDjiboutiMadagascarSolomon Islands
BangladeshDominican Rep.MalawiSomalia
BelizeEl SalvadorMalaysiaSouth Africa
BeninEquatorial GuineaMaliSri Lanka
BhutanEthiopiaMauritaniaSt. Christopher and Nevis
BotswanaGambia, TheMoroccoSuriname
CameroonGuinea-BissauPapua New GuineaTogo
Central African Rep.GuyanaParaguayTurkey
ColombiaJamaicaRwandaViet Nam
ComorosKenyaSāo Tomé and PrincipeZaïre
Costa RicaLao People’s Dem Rep.SenegalZambia

A further distinction is made among the “primary product exporters” on the basis of whether countries’ exports of primary commodities (other than fuel) consisted primarily of agricultural (SITC 0 and 1) or mineral (SITC 2 and 4 and diamonds and gemstones) commodities. The mineral exporters comprise:

BotswanaLiberiaSierra LeoneZambia
ChileMauritaniaSouth AfricaZimbabwe

The agricultural exporters are those non-fuel primary product exporters that are not also mineral exporters.

The exporters of manufactures (i.e., those countries or areas whose exports of manufactures accounted in 1980 for over 50 percent of total exports) include:

Hong KongIsraelRomaniaYugoslavia

The service and remittance countries, that is, those countries whose receipts from services (such as tourism) and private transfers (such as workers’ remittances) amount to at least 50 percent of their exports of goods and services, comprise:

Antigua andEgyptMaldivesSeychelles
BarbudaGreeceMaltaSt. Lucia
Bahamas, TheGrenadaNepalSt. Vincent
Burkina FasoKampuchea,AntillesVanuatu
Cape VerdeDemocraticPakistanWestern Samoa
CyprusLebanonPanamaYemen Arab Rep.
DominicaLesothoPortugalYemen, People’s
Dem. Rep. of

The primary product exporters, exporters of manufactures, and service and remittance countries taken together are referred to as the “non-fuel exporters.”

A second set of analytical groupings of developing countries is based on financial criteria. A first distinction is made between those developing countries that have traditionally been capital exporters and those that have traditionally been capital importers. At present, capital exporters are defined as those developing countries that, on average, recorded a current account surplus during the period 1979-81 and were aid donors over the same period. The capital exporting countries comprise:

Iran, Islamic Rep. ofKuwaitOmanUnited Arab Emirates
IraqLibyan ArabQatar
JamahiriyaSaudi Arabia

The capital importing countries comprise all other developing countries.

Within the group of capital importing developing countries and areas, two types of financial distinction are made. The first distinguishes among countries and areas on the basis of their predominant type of creditor. Market borrowers are defined as those countries that obtained at least two thirds of their external borrowings from 1978 to 1982 from commercial creditors. The group includes:

Antigua andCote d’IvoireMalaysiaSingapore
BarbudaCyprusMexicoSouth Africa
ArgentinaEcuadorNigeriaTrinidad and
Bahamas, TheGabonPanamaTobago
BoliviaGreecePapua New GuineaUruguay
BrazilHong KongParaguayVenezuela

Official borrowers comprise those countries, except China and India, that obtained two thirds or more of their external borrowings from 1978 to 1982 from official creditors. The countries are:

BahrainGambia, TheMaliSwaziland
BangladeshGhanaMaltaSyrian Arab Rep.
Burkina FasoGuatemalaNepalTogo
BurmaGuineaNetherlands AntillesTonga
Cape VerdeGuyanaPakistanViet Nam
Central African Rep.HondurasRwandaWestern Samoa
ChadJamaicaSāo Tomé and PrincipeYemen Arab Rep.
ComorosJordanSenegalYemen, People’s
DjiboutiLao People’sSeychellesDem. Rep. of
DominicaDem. Rep.Sierra LeoneZaïre
Dominican Rep.LiberiaSomaliaZambia
El SalvadorMadagascarSt. Lucia
Equatorial GuineaMalawiSt. Vincent

Diversified borrowers comprise those capital importing developing countries that are not market or official borrowers. These countries’ external borrowings in 1978-82 were more or less evenly divided between official and commercial creditors. China and India are included in this group.

A second financial distinction among capital importing developing countries is based on whether countries have or have not experienced debt-servicing difficulties in the recent past. Countries that have experienced debt-servicing problems are defined as those countries which incurred external payments arrears during 1983 to 1984 or rescheduled their debt during the period from end-1982 to mid-1985 as reported in the relevant issues of the Fund’s Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions. Countries classified as not having experienced debt-servicing problems are defined as all other capital importing developing countries.

Several other analytical groups are also used in the Report. One of these is the group of capital importing fuel exporters. This group, which is also referred to as the “indebted fuel exporters,” comprises those 12 fuel exporters that are not capital exporters. A second is the group of 15 heavily indebted countries. This group comprises:

BoliviaCote d’IvoireNigeriaVenezuela

A third is the group of low-income countries, which comprises 43 countries whose per capita GDP, as estimated by the World Bank, did not exceed the equivalent of $410 in 1980. The countries in this group are:

AfghanistanComorosKenyaSao Tome and
BangladeshEquatorial GuineaLao People’s Dem. RepPrincipe
BeninEthiopiaMadagascarSierra Leone
BhutanGambia, TheMalawiSomalia
Burkina FasoGhanaMaldivesSri Lanka
Cape VerdeHaitiMozambiqueTogo
Central African Rep.IndiaNepalUganda
ChadKampuchea,NigerViet Nam

References to the small or smaller low-income countries refer to the above group, less China and India. Reference is also made to sub-Saharan Africa, which comprises all African countries (as defined in IFS) except Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tunisia.

Finally, in the classification used in Fund publications until recently, the developing countries were divided into two groups—“oil exporting countries”4 and “non-oil developing countries.” The countries included under the heading oil exporting countries were:

AlgeriaIraqNigeriaUnited Arab
Iran, IslamicLibyan ArabQatarVenezuela
Rep. ofJamahiriyaSaudi Arabia

The remaining countries, grouped under the heading non-oil developing countries, were further disaggregated into subgroupings based primarily on the character of the countries’ economic activity and on the predominant composition of their exports.

Except where otherwise specifically indicated, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other nonmember countries of Eastern Europe, Cuba, and North Korea are excluded from the tables in this Report.

Also, it has not been possible to include in the tables a number of small countries or territories for which trade and payments data are not available.

Developing Countries: Shares of Various Subgroups in Aggregate GDP, Exports of Goods and Services, and Debt Outstanding, 1980(In percent)
GDPExports of Goods and ServicesDebt1Memorandum: Number of Countries in Each Subgroup
Developing countries100.0100.0...132
By region
Middle East17.736.6...16
Western Hemisphere27.216.640.633
By predominant export
Fuel exporters33.449.6...20
Non-fuel exporters66.650.474.9112
Primary product exporters33.021.645.673
Agricultural exporters26.214.334.555
Mineral exporters6.87.311.218
Exporters of manufactures28.222.820.110
Service and remittance
By financial criteria
Capital exporting countries15.032.4...8
Capital importing countries85.067.6100.0124
Market borrowers50.849.267.834
Official borrowers7.15.110.760
Diversified borrowers27.113.321.530
Countries with recent debt-
servicing difficulties43.331.262.261
Countries without recent debt-
servicing difficulties41.736.437.863
By miscellaneous criteria
Capital importing fuel exporters18.417.325.112
Fifteen heavily indebted countries33.321.247.115
Small low-income countries5.62.88.441
Sub-Saharan Africa24.64.07.343
By alternative analytical categories
Oil exporting countries25.043.7...12
Non-oil developing countries75.056.386.4120

In percent of outstanding debt of capital importing developing countries.

Excluding Nigeria and South Africa.

In percent of outstanding debt of capital importing developing countries.

Excluding Nigeria and South Africa.


This classification is the same as that adopted in the World Economic Outlook, April 1986.


It should be noted that the term “country” used in this Report does not in all cases refer to a territorial entity that is a state as understood by international law and practice. The term also covers some territorial entities that are not states but for which data are maintained and provided internationally on a separate and independent basis.


Two countries that did not meet any of the above criteria were assigned to the trade category that accounted for the largest share of their exports.


The countries included here were those whose oil exports (net of any imports of crude oil) both accounted for at least two thirds of total exports and were at least 100 million barrels a year (roughly equivalent to 1 percent of annual world exports). These criteria were applied to 1978-80 averages.

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