BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday December 24, 2013, CMC – The World Bank has rated the Bahamas as the wealthiest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
The Washington-based financial institution said that the Bahamas is the most economically prosperous country relying on tourism to generate most of its economic activity.
It said that the tourism industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian gross domestic product (GDP), but provides jobs for more than half the country’s workforce.
After tourism, the next most important economic sector is financial services, accounting for approximately 15 per cent of its GDP. The Bahamas with a gross national income (GNI) of US$21, 280, is one of the richest countries in the Americas.
The World Bank in its 2014 World Development Report, noted that oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago with a GNI of US$14, 440 is one of the wealthiest and well-developed nations in the Caribbean.
In November 2011, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of developing countries.
“Trinidad’s economy is strongly influenced by the petroleum industry. Tourism and manufacturing are also important to the local economy. Tourism is a growing sector, although not proportionately as important as in many other Caribbean islands. Agricultural products include citrus, cocoa and others,” the World Bank said.
It said that within the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), St Kitts-Nevis, with a GNI of US$13,330, has an economy characterised by its dominant tourism, agriculture and light manufacturing industries.
The World Bank said sugar was the primary export from the 1940s on, but rising production costs, low world market prices, and the government’s efforts to reduce dependence on it have led to a growing diversification of the agricultural sector.
Tourism on the island has been expanding since 1978. In 2009, there were 587,479 tourist arrivals to St. Kitts compared to 379,473 in 2007.
Tourism dominates Antigua and Barbuda’s economy, accounting for more than half of the gross domestic product (GDP). The island, which is famous for its many luxury resorts located around the coastline, has a GNI of US$12,640.
“The growing medical schools and its students also add much to the economy. The University of Health Sciences Antigua and the American University of Antigua College of Medicine teach aspiring doctors,” said the World Bank.
It said democracy in the Dutch-speaking Suriname, which is fifth on the list of Caribbean countries, gained some strength after the turbulent 1990s, and its economy became more diversified and less dependent on Dutch financial assistance.
Bauxite (aluminium ore) mining continues to be a strong revenue source, and the discovery and exploitation of oil and gold has added substantially to Suriname’s economic independence,” the World Bank said.
“Agriculture, especially rice and bananas, remains a strong component of the economy, and ecotourism is providing new economic opportunities,” it added, noting that Suriname has a GNI of US$8,480.
Grenada’s economic progress in fiscal reforms and prudent macroeconomic management have boosted annual growth to five and six per cent in 1998–1999 and the World Bank said the increase in economic activity has been led by construction and trade. Tourist facilities are being expanded as tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner.
“Grenada is also a leading producer of several spices. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, allspice, orange and citrus peels, wild coffee used by the locals, and especially nutmeg, providing 20 percent of the world’s supply, are all important exports.”
The island has a GNI of US$7,110, which is higher than that of St Lucia, estimated at US$6,530 (GNI)
The World Bank said St Lucia’s educated workforce and improvements in roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities have attracted foreign investment in tourism and in petroleum storage and transhipment.
“The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, which is the its main source of revenue,” the financial institution said, noting that the manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean, and the government is trying to revitalize the banana industry.
Jamaica, which has had to look to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in shoring up its economy, is listed below Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and above Guyana.
The island with a GNI of US$5,140 has a mixed economy with both state enterprises and private sector businesses.
“Major sectors of the Jamaican economy include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, and financial and insurance services. Tourism and mining are the leading earners of foreign exchange. Half of the Jamaican economy is generated by income coming from services such as tourism. An estimated 1.3 million foreign tourists visit Jamaica every year,” the World Bank noted.
It said that the 2014 report did not give specific gross national income information for Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Barbados or Haiti.