|Antigua Barbuda Economy|
Antigua & Barbuda is a twin-island nation situated in the centre of the Leeward Islands area of the Caribbean. The two separate islands are divided by several nautical miles but have a total of 169 square miles between them. The combined population for the island is around 85,000 people with a work force of approximately 30,000 people between the two. The nation uses the East Caribbean Dollar which is fixed to the currency heavyweight, the US Dollar. The Antigua & Barbuda economy has been turbulent in previous years but it thrives in several service industries today, in particular the tourism niche.
Like many of the Caribbean islands and nations, in previous years the Antigua & Barbuda economy relied heavily on sugar cane production. This was after a period during Colonial rule in the 17th century when it relied on the production of tobacco, cotton and ginger, which dwindled after sugar production became more prominent in the Caribbean.
Today the Antigua & Barbuda economy has a variety of industries that all contribute to its economic stability, the biggest of which is tourism. Indeed, this sector contributes as much as 50% to the nation's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rate.
Tourism in Antigua & Barbuda Economy
The tourism industry did suffer a setback in the early 00s thanks to the September 11th attacks on The United States of America, but it has managed to recover quite well. This sector employs approximately half of the available workforce in Antigua & Barbuda and the governments of both Antigua and Barbuda are committed to developing the tourism trade as far as they can. This dedication to growth also helps to boost the construction industry on the island with hotels and new housing developments springing up at a steady pace.
Changes in Modern Antigua & Barbuda Economy
Due to its vulnerability to natural disasters such as hurricanes, the islands have also decided to build on the Antigua & Barbuda economy by diversifying into other industries and services. This includes the offshore financial sector which started to grow in the 1990s but faced problems when the United Kingdom and the United States of America placed sanctions on the twin-nation to combat money-laundering practices.
In 2000 Antigua & Barbuda introduced measures to closely monitor money-laundering activities in their financial services and they continue to take any such illegal activity very seriously. It is hoped that the offshore financial sector can continue to grow in future years and the internet gambling niche is something that is contributing well to the economy of the nation.
Retail Growth in Antigua & Barbuda
Retail is also a prominent feature of the Antigua & Barbuda economy. The islands' mainly make their profit in the retail sector producing clothing, food, beverages, textiles and clothing, most of which is sold to visitors to the islands by way of Duty Free shops and street vendors. The government are keen to improve this industrial sector and steps to make improvements are already underway. An example of this is a new fisheries compound to help improve the processing and exportation of foodstuffs to export partners including Italy, Germany and Spain.
Having had a turbulent economic history, Antigua & Barbuda stands a good chance of being able to improve its circumstances in the years to come. With tourism being a strong feature of the Antigua & Barbuda economy, the focus needs to turn to the improvement of the other industries in order for the twin-nation to be able to move forward.