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Jamaica Economy

    Economy—overview: Key sectors in this island economy are bauxite (alumina and bauxite account for more than half of exports) and tourism. Since assuming office in 1992, Prime Minister PATTERSON has eliminated most price controls, streamlined tax schedules, and privatized government enterprises. Continued tight monetary and fiscal policies have helped slow inflation—although inflationary pressures are mounting—and stabilize the exchange rate, but have resulted in the slowdown of economic growth (moving from 1.5% in 1992 to 0.5% in 1995). In 1996, GDP showed negative growth (-1.4%) and remained negative through 1998. Serious problems include: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; the weak financial condition of business in general resulting in receiverships or closures and downsizings of companies; the shift in investment portfolios to non-productive, short-term high yield instruments; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a widening merchandise trade deficit; and a growing internal debt for government bailouts to various ailing sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Jamaica's medium-term prospects will depend upon encouraging investment in the productive sectors, maintaining a competitive exchange rate, stabilizing the labor environment, selling off reacquired firms, and implementing proper fiscal and monetary policies.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$8.8 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: -2% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,300 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 7.4%
    industry: 42.1%
    services: 50.5% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: 34.2% (1992 est.)

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 2.4%
    highest 10%: 31.9% (1991)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9.9% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 1.14 million (1996)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 41%, agriculture 22.5%, industry 19% (1989)

    Unemployment rate: 16.5% (1997 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $2.27 billion
    expenditures: $3.66 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.265 billion (FY98/99 est.)

    Industries: tourism, bauxite, textiles, food processing, light manufactures

    Industrial production growth rate: NA%

    Electricity—production: 6.125 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 97.96%
    hydro: 2.04%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 6.125 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, potatoes, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk

    Exports: $1.7 billion (1997)

    Exports—commodities: alumina, bauxite, sugar, bananas, rum

    Exports—partners: US 33.3%, EU (excluding UK and Norway) 17.1%, Canada 14.1%, UK 13.4%, Norway 6.1%, Caricom 3.4%

    Imports: $2.8 billion (1997)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, fuel, food, chemicals

    Imports—partners: US 47.7%, EU (excluding UK) 12.8%, Caricom 10.2%, Latin America 6.7%, UK 3.7% (1997)

    Debt—external: $4.2 billion (1997 est.)

    Economic aid—recipient: $102.7 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 Jamaican dollar (J$) = 100 cents

    Exchange rates: Jamaican dollars (J$) per US$1—35.57 (December 1998), 35.404 (1997), 37.120 (1996), 35.142 (1995), 33.086 (1994)

    Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)