|St Kitts Nevis Economy|
St Kitts & Nevis is a two-island sovereign state located in the Leeward Islands area of the Caribbean. The islands lie between the other Caribbean territories of Saint Eustatius (to the north-west) and Montserrat (to the south-east). St Kitts & Nevis covers a very small area totalling 104 square miles and has a combined population of approximately 51,000 inhabitants. The islands use the East Caribbean Dollar which is pegged at a set rate to the US Dollar. The St Kitts & Nevis economy was heavily dependent on one industry right up into the early 2000s, but is beginning to broaden its economic opportunities.
Agriculture Declines as Tourism Takes Over
Like many other Caribbean nations and territories, the St Kitts & Nevis economy came into its own in the 17th century with the arrival of the sugar cane plantation industry. Unlike many others in the Caribbean though, St Kitts & Nevis did not dwindle when the demand for sugar cane dropped through the 19th and 20th centuries. Indeed, the islands benefited from sugar cane right up until the industry practically ground to a halt on the islands in 2005.
In the current economic climate the St Kitts & Nevis economy relies heavily instead on the tourism niche. Tourism has played a big part in the islands' economy since the late 1970s, but has really come to the fore when the sugar cane industry dwindled. The sector did experience a bit of a knock with several hurricanes in the 1990s and the attacks in America in 2001 also had an impact. In recent years the tourism industry has managed to bounce back and is steadily growing, allowing for industries such as construction and retail to benefit too.
Approximately 500,000 people visit the islands each year and there is a large percentage of foreign investment off of the back of this (as much as 83%). In 1984, the islands' introduced a "Citizenship by Investment" programme which gave potential investors the opportunity to have citizenship of St Kitts & Nevis in return for investment in approved development projects. This unique programme is still running and provides a steady income into the islands' economy.
As well as tourism, agriculture plays a fairly substantial role in the St Kitts & Nevis economy. Almost 39% of the islands' land is devoted to crops but sugar cane is no longer mass produced. Other agricultural products that are produced now and exported from St Kitts & Nevis are coconuts, peanuts, tobacco and sea cotton. The islands' have several large export partners including the United States of America, Canada and The Netherlands.
Manufacturing Strengthens St Kitts Nevis Economy
St Kitts & Nevis has a high GDP (Gross Domestic Product) output for the manufacturing industry. As much as 26% of the GDP comes from manufacturing, with several large industrial plants situated on the islands. Amongst the products produced in this sector are electronics and clothing. There is also a large processing plant for sugar cane on St Kitts.
Although having faced some knocks in the tourism sector in previous years and having faced the decline of sugar cane production, the St Kitts & Nevis economy is quite stable in the current climate. The government of the two-island nation is committed to expanding its existing successful sectors, as well as diversifying the economy by introducing new industries in the near future.