Saint Lucia's economy depends primarily on revenue from banana production and tourism with some input from small-scale manufacturing. There are numerous small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises. Revenue from agriculture has supported the noticeable socioeconomic changes that have taken place in St. Lucia since the 1960s. Eighty percent of merchandise trade earnings came from banana exports to the United Kingdom in the 1960s. In view of the European Union's announced phase-out of preferred access to its markets by Windward Island bananas by 2006, agricultural diversification is a priority. An attempt is being made to diversify production by encouraging the establishment of tree crops such as mangos and avocados. A variety of vegetables are produced for local consumption. Recently, St. Lucia added small computer driven information technology and financial services as development objectives.
St. Lucia's leading revenue producers--agriculture, tourism, and small-scale manufacturing--benefited from a focus on infrastructure improvements in roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities. Foreign investors also have been attracted by the infrastructure improvements as well as by the educated and skilled work force and relatively stable political conditions. The largest investment is in a petroleum storage and transhipment terminal built by Hess Oil. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-funded and airport expansion project.
Until the events of September 11, the tourism sector had made significant gains, experiencing a boom despite some untimely and destructive hurricanes. Stay-over visitors and cruise arrivals declined in 2001 and several hotels declared bankruptcy, including the Hyatt. The development of the tourism sector remains a priority, and the government is committed to providing a favourable investment environment. Incentives are available for building and upgrading tourism facilities. There has been liberal use of public funds to improve the physical infrastructure of the island, and the government has made efforts to attract cultural and sporting events and develop historical sites.
St. Lucia is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency (the East Caribbean Dollar) for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.
St. Lucia is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative and is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
St. Lucia is the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications (ECTEL) authority, which is developing the regulations to liberalize the telecommunications sector in the region by 2004.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $656 million (1998 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.9% (1998 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,300 (1998 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
- agriculture: 10.7%
- industry: 32.3%
- services: 57% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.7% (1998 est.)
Labour force: 43,800
Labour force - by occupation: agriculture 43.4%, services 38.9%, industry and commerce 17.7% (1983 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15% (1996 est.)
revenues: $141.2 million
expenditures: $146.7 million, including capital expenditures of $25.1 million (FY97/98 est.)
Industries: clothing, assembly of electronic components, beverages, corrugated cardboard boxes, tourism, lime processing, coconut processing
Industrial production growth rate: -8.9% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production: 110 GWh (1998)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% (1998)
Electricity - consumption: 102 GWh (1998)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)
Agriculture - products: bananas, coconuts, vegetables, citrus, root crops, cocoa
Exports: $75 million (1998)
Exports - commodities: bananas 41%, clothing, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, coconut oil
Exports - partners: United Kingdom 50%, United States 24%, Caricom countries 16% (1995)
Imports: $290 million (1998)
Imports - commodities: food 23%, manufactured goods 21%, machinery and transportation equipment 19%, chemicals, fuels
Imports - partners: United States 36%, Caricom countries 22%, United Kingdom 11%, Japan 5%, Canada 4% (1995)
Debt - external: $135 million (1998)
Economic aid - recipient: $51.8 million (1995)
Currency: 1 East Caribbean dollar (EC$) = 100 cents
Exchange rates: East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1 - 2.7000 (fixed rate since 1976)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March