Economy of St. Kitts and Nevis
The economy of Saint Kitts and Nevis has traditionally depended on the growing and processing of sugar cane; decreasing world prices have hurt the industry in recent years. Tourism, export-oriented manufacturing, and offshore banking activity have assumed larger roles. Most food is imported. The government has undertaken a program designed to revitalize the faltering sugar sector. It is also working to improve revenue collection in order to better fund social programs.
The economy of St. Kitts and Nevis experienced strong growth for most of the 1990s but hurricanes in 1998 and 1999 contributed to a sharp slowdown. Real economic growth was 0.75% in 2002 after a decline of 4.3% in 2001. The economy experienced a mixed performance during 2002, with some sectors experiencing positive growth while others experienced varying levels of decline. The construction sector recorded a 4.51% decline, manufacturing and hotels and restaurants also recorded significant declines of 4.01 and 9.89% respectively, and sugar production fell by 5.1%. Significant new investment in tourism, including a 648-room Marriott hotel and convention center that opened in December 2002, as well as continued government efforts to diversify the economy, are expected to improve economic performance. Consumer prices have risen marginally over the past few years. IndustriesAgriculture
Of the islands' total land area, about 39% is devoted to crops. The principal agricultural product of St. Kitts is sugarcane; peanuts are now the second crop. On Nevis, sea island cotton and coconuts are the major commodities. Sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, and breadfruit are grown for local consumption on both islands, mostly by individual smallholders.Animal husbandry
Pasture areas are small, covering some 2.7% of the islands. Pangola and Bermuda grasses provide the bulk of the fodder. Estimates of livestock in 2001 were sheep, 14,000; goats, 14,400; cattle, 4,300 head; and pigs, 4,000. Fishing
The catch is not enough to satisfy local demand for fish. Large quantities of dried, salted and smoked fish, as well as frozen are imported from Canada and USA. Forestry
Both islands have small stands of virgin tropical forest, with palms, poincianas, and palmettos. About 11% of the land area consists of forests. Imports of forest products nearly reached US$1.8 million in 2000. Mining
The mining sector played a minor role in St. Kitts and Nevis. No commercially valuable mineral deposits have been found on Saint Kitts. Hence mining and quarrying activities are limited to earthen materials. Secondary Industries
Industry accounted for 26% of GDP in 2001. The principal manufacturing plant and largest industrial employer is the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corp., a government enterprise; it grinds and processes sugarcane for export. A brewery on St. Kitts makes beer for local consumption, and cotton is ginned and baled on Nevis. Electronic plants produce switches, calculators, car radios, and pocket radios. Other industries are clothing and shoe manufacturing. These provide a much-needed alternative to agricultural employment, particularly for women.
As a result of diversification and expansion, St. Kitts and Nevis has transformed small electronics plants into the largest electronics assembly industry in the Eastern Caribbean. Its apparel assembly industry has also become very successful in recent years. Garment manufacturing has expanded since the mid-1990s and now accounts for a large share of export earnings. Upgrading the Port Zante harbor complex in Basseterre enables large container ships to call, further enhancing St. Kitts' attractiveness as an offshore manufacturing base. Tourism
A unique point of interest is that the island of St. Kitts possesses the only remaining active railway in the West Indies. This was built to move sugar cane around, and part of the railway remains in use for tourist tours.
St. Kitts is also home to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site.
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