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Barbados Economy
 
 
 

General

Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita, has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is classified as being in its 66 top high income economies of the world.

Historically, the economy of Barbados had been dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s it has diversified into the manufacturing and tourism sectors. Offshore finance and information services have become important foreign exchange earners, and there is a healthy light manufacturing sector. Since the 1990s the Barbados Government has been seen as business-friendly and economically sound. The island has seen a construction boom, with the development and redevelopment of hotels, office complexes, and homes.

Recent government administrations have continued efforts to reduce unemployment, encourage foreign direct investment, and privatise remaining state-owned enterprises. Unemployment has been reduced from around 14% in the past to under 10%.

The economy contracted in 2001 and 2002 due to slowdowns in tourism, consumer spending and the impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks, but rebounded in 2003 and has shown growth since 2004. Traditional trading partners include Canada, the Caribbean Community (especially Trinidad and Tobago), the United Kingdom and the United States.

Business links and investment flows have become substantial: as of 2003 the island saw from Canada CA$25 billion in investment holdings, placing it as one of Canada's top five destinations for Canadian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Businessman Eugene Melnyk of Toronto, Canada, is said to be Barbados' richest permanent resident.

It was thought by key Barbadian industry sources that the year 2006 would have been one of the busiest years for building construction ever in Barbados, as the building-boom on the island entered the final stages for several multi-million dollar commercial projects.

The European Union is presently assisting Barbados with a €10 million dollar programme of modernisation of the country's International Business and Financial Services Sector.

Barbados maintains the third largest stock exchange in the Caribbean region. At present, officials at the stock exchange are investigating the possibility of augmenting the local exchange with an International Securities Market (ISM) venture.

Overview

Economy - overview :
Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about three-quarters of GDP and 80% of exports being attributed to services. Growth has rebounded since 2003, bolstered by increases in construction projects and tourism revenues, reflecting its success in the higher-end segment, but the sector will likely face declining revenues with the global economic downturn. The country enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centres and a relatively highly educated workforce. The government continues its efforts to reduce unemployment, to encourage direct foreign investment, and to privatise remaining state-owned enterprises. The public debt-to-GDP ratio of about 80% will likely widen as the THOMPSON administration engages in a more expansionary fiscal policy.

GDP (purchasing power parity) :
$5.367 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate) :
$3.67 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate :
0.7% (2008 est.)


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