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Economy of Barbados

Since achieving independence in 1966, the island nation of Barbados has transformed itself from a High-income economy dependent upon "sugar" production, into an upper-middle-income economy based on tourism and the offshore sector. Barbados went into a deep recession in the 1990s after 3 years of steady decline brought on by fundamental macroeconomic imbalances. After a painful re-adjustment process, the economy began to grow again in 1993. Growth rates have averaged between 3%-5% since then. The country's three main economic drivers are: tourism, the international business sector, and foreign direct-investment. These are supported in part by Barbados operating as a service-driven economy and an international business centre.

By the end of 2012 the Barbados economy still exhibited signs of weakness with their main export (12.53% a value of $96.5 million) being liquor closely followed by frozen-fish (8%) and preserved-milk (6.23%) to Nigeria (a total of 41.38% at $319 million) with nearly three-quarters of the imports (61.05% at $3 billion in natural-rubber and cocoa-beans) originating from there. Although it is often quoted that Barbados' main produce is "sugar" there are only two working sugar factories remaining in the country (in the 19th century there were 10). At the end of 2013 Barbados economy continued to exhibited signs of weakness.



About 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres), or 37.2% of the total land area, are classified as arable. At one time, nearly all arable land was devoted to sugarcane, but the percentage devoted to ground crops for local consumption has been increasing. In 1999, 500,000 tons of sugarcane were produced, down from the annual average of 584,000 tons in 1989-91Major food crops ("Ground provisions") are yams, sweet potatoes, corn, eddoes, cassava, and several varieties of beans.

Animal husbandry

Livestock rearing isn't a major occupation in Barbados, chiefly because good pasture has always been scarce & imported animal feed is expensive. The island must import large quantities of meat and dairy products. Most livestock is owned by individual households.


The fishing industry employs about 2,000 persons, and the fleet consists of more than 500 powered boats. The catch in 2000 was 3,100 metric tons. Flying fish, dolphin fish, tuna, turbot, kingfish, and swordfish are among the main species caught.


Fewer than 20 hectares (49 acres) of original forests have survived the 300 years of sugar cultivation. There are an estimated 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of forested land, covering about 12% of the total land area. Roundwood production in 2000 totalled 5,000 cu m (176,500 cu ft), and imports amounted to 3,000 cu m (106,000 cu ft). In 2000, Barbados imported $35.3 million in wood and forest products.


Deposits of limestone and coral were quarried to meet local construction needs. Oil production is also undertaken in Barbados, with much of the on-shore activity taking place in Woodbourne, Saint Philip.


The manufacturing sector in Barbados has yet to recover from the recession of the late 1980s when bankruptcies occurred and almost one-third of the workforce lost their jobs. Today, approximately 10,000 Barbadians work in manufacturing. The electronics sector in particular was badly hit when the U.S. semi-conductor company, Intel, closed its factory in 1986. Leaving aside traditional manufacturing, such as sugar refining and rum distilling, Barbados's industrial activity is partly aimed at the local market which produces goods such as tinned food, drinks, and cigarettes. Many industrial estates are located throughout the island.


A construction boom, linked to tourism and residential development, has assisted the recovery of a large cement plant in the north of the island that was closed for some years and reopened in 1997.


Tourism is Barbados's crucial economic activity and has been since the 1960s. At least 10 percent of the working population (some 13,000 people) are employed in this sector, which offers a range of tourist accommodations from luxury hotels to modest self-catering establishments.

Financial services

The international business and financial services sector continues to be an important contributor to the economy of Barbados. During fiscal year 2010/2011 the sector contributed approximately Bds$186 million in corporate taxes - almost 60% of the total corporate tax intake.

Cruise industry

In 2006 the Central Bank governor of Barbados urged the Government to consider investing in a Barbadian cruise ship company. The government at that time did not invest in that opportunity but it is unknown if it will in future.


Barbados has three commercial rum distilleries: West Indies Rum Distillers Ltd, Mount Gay Rum and Four Square. Mount Gay Eclipse Silver is one of the most recent Rums created back in 2008. There is also St. Nicholas Abbey, a smaller boutique operation.


Retailing is an important economic activity, especially in Bridgetown where there are large department stores and supermarkets. In the countryside, most stores are small and family-run. Some 18,000 people work in the retail sector.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Economy Of Barbados"

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