Economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The St. Vincent economy is heavily dependent on agriculture being the world's leading producer of arrowroot and grows other exotic fruit, vegetables and root crops. Bananas alone account for upwards of 60% of the work force and 50% of merchandise exports. Such reliance on a single crop makes the economy vulnerable to external factors. St. Vincent's banana growers benefited from preferential access to the European market. In view of the European Union's announced phase-out of this preferred access, economic diversification is a priority.
Tourism has grown to become a very important part of the economy. In 1993, tourism supplanted banana exports as the chief source of foreign exchange. The Grenadines have become a favourite of the up-market yachting crowd. The trend toward increasing tourism revenues will likely continue. In 1996, new cruise ship and ferry berths came on-line, sharply increasing the number of passenger arrivals. In 1998, total visitor arrivals stood at 202,109 with United States visitors constituting 2.7%, as most of the nation's tourists are from other countries in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. Figures from 2005 record tourism's contribution to the economy at US$90 million.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a beneficiary of the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative. The country belongs to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has signed a framework agreement with the United States to promote trade and investment in the region.
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