Economy of Bahamas
The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. Steady growth in tourism receipts and a boom in construction of new hotels, resorts, and residences had led to solid GDP growth for many years, but the slowdown in the US economy and the attacks of September 11, 2001 held back growth in these sectors in 2001-03. Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for about 15% of GDP. However, since December 2000, when the government enacted new regulations on the financial sector, many international businesses have left The Bahamas. Manufacturing and agriculture together contribute approximately a tenth of GDP and show little growth, despite government incentives aimed at those sectors. Overall growth prospects in the short run rest heavily on the fortunes of the tourism sector, which depends on growth in the US, the source of more than 80% of the visitors. In addition to tourism and banking, the government supports the development of a "2nd-pillar", e-commerce.
The Bahamian economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism and financial services to generate foreign exchange earnings. Tourism alone provides an estimated 60% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about half the Bahamian workforce. In 2004, over half a million tourists visited The Bahamas, most of whom are from the United States and Canada.
Financial services constitute the second-most important sector of the Bahamian economy, accounting for up to 17% of GDP, due to the country's status as an offshore financial center.
Agriculture and fisheries industry together account for 5% of GDP. The Bahamas exports lobster and some fish but does not raise these items commercially. There is no large scale agriculture, and most agricultural products are consumed domestically. The Bahamas imports more than $250 million in foodstuffs per year, representing about 80% of its food consumption.
The Bahamas has a few notable industrial firms: the Freeport pharmaceutical firm, PharmaChem Technologies (GrandBahama) Ltd. (formerly Syntex); the BORCO oil facility, also in Freeport, which transships oil in the region; the Commonwealth Brewery in Nassau, which produces Heineken, Guinness, and Kalik beers; and Bacardi Corp., which distills rum in Nassau for shipment to the U.S. and European markets. Other industries include sun-dried sea salt in Great Inagua, a wet dock facility in Freeport for repair of cruise ships, and mining of aragonite—a type of limestone with several industrial uses—from the sea floor at Ocean Cay.
The Bahamas is largely an import, service economy. There are about 110 U.S.-affiliated businesses operating in The Bahamas, and most are associated with tourism and banking. With few domestic resources and little industry, The Bahamas imports nearly all its food and manufactured goods from the United States. American goods and services tend to be favored by Bahamians due to cultural similarities and heavy exposure to American advertising. Area of opportunity
The best U.S. export opportunities remain in the traditional areas of foodstuffs and manufactured goods: vehicles and automobile parts; hotel, restaurant, and medical supplies; and computers and electronics. Bahamian tastes in consumer products roughly parallel those in the U.S. With approximately 85% of the population of primarily African descent, there is a large and growing market in the Bahamas for "ethnic" personal care products. Merchants in southern Florida have found it profitable to advertise in Bahamian publications. Most imports in this sector are subject to high but non discriminatory tariffs.
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