Country Listing

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands


In the late 1980s, Grenada was in the midst of a lengthy economic transition following the downfall of the PRG government in October 1983. Although somewhat limited in choice by the country's economic resource base, the PRG and the parliamentary government of Blaize that followed opted for two distinct economic development strategies. The PRG's economic strategy was based on a centrally governed economy dependent on substantial Cuban assistance. The Blaize strategy was one that allowed market forces to regulate the economy, with financial assistance from the United States.

Bishop's PRG guided the economy into a phase aptly described as "foreign aid socialism," a form of socialism maintained by financial dependence on other socialist countries. Early PRG economic philosophy espoused a strong, diversified agricultural sector and government control of industry through cooperative management and nationalization. What actually developed was a program dependent on the construction industry for growth and on foreign grants for capitalization. Analyses following the removal of the PRG government suggested that the attempt at socialist transformation did not produce a revolution in economic development; there was no change in the distribution of income, and the standard of living actually declined slightly. This occurred because the PRG failed to develop a well-defined economic plan, managed economic enterprises poorly, and became overly concerned with political, rather than economic, priorities.

The Blaize government, by contrast, undertook a change in economic orientation emphasizing tourism and agriculture as the leading economic sectors. Private control of economic enterprises, attraction of both public and private foreign capital, and pursuit of a strong export trade were the fundamental elements of the development policy. This approach was in keeping with the economic realities of an island nation with natural resources limited to small amounts of arable land, natural tourist attractions, and an underutilized labor force. Because of this resource restriction, as well as limited domestic consumption, cultural and historical ties, and easy market penetration, Grenada's economy was naturally linked to the import markets of the United States, Britain, and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom--see Appendix C) countries.

Data as of November 1987