Country Listing

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands

Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments

Bananas accounted for 40.1 percent of Dominica's merchandise exports during the period 1980 to 1983. This product was followed by laundry and toilet soaps (34.3 percent), citrus products (4.3 percent), and all other commodities (21.3 percent). Exports totalled US$32.9 million in 1983. The overwhelming percentage of Dominican exports that year were destined for members of the Commonwealth of Nations (see Appendix B). Britain absorbed 43.7 percent of all exports, followed by the non-OECS members of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom--see Appendix C) (41.8 percent), and the OECS (7.3 percent). Only 2.4 percent of exports were destined for the United States. Trade restrictions within Caricom restrained the development of the manufacturing sector.

Consumer goods--consisting of foods, beverages, tobacco, oils and fats, and manufactured goods--represented 56.1 percent of merchandise imports in 1983. Food, beverages, and tobacco alone composed 24.5 percent of imports. Other major segments of Dominican imports were intermediate goods (chemicals, fuels and lubricants, and raw materials) at 21.5 percent and capital goods (machinery and transport equipment) at 18.3 percent. Dominica's import bill for 1983 was US$49.3 million. The United States supplied 23.1 percent of imports that year, followed by Britain (18.1 percent), the OECS (14.5 percent), and the non-OECS members of Caricom (12.5 percent).

Continued debt servicing obligations and trade deficits were the largest burdens on the country's balance of payments in the 1980s. In 1985 debt service payments on the country's US$48-million external debt reached US$5.5 million, some 15 percent of government revenues. Increased indebtedness was almost entirely related to accumulated project debt, virtually all of which was externally financed. Because of the need to raise money to service the debt, the health of the export sector was increasingly important. In 1985, however, the island's trade deficit increased to US$28 million, a direct result of growing protectionism in Caricom.

Data as of November 1987