Country Listing

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands

Trade and Finance

Although Antigua and Barbuda was dependent on trade for its survival, it maintained large annual trade deficits throughout the 1980s. Manufactured goods, not including processed foods and beverages, comprised 59 percent of all exports in 1981. Food, beverages, and tobacco represented 20 percent, and other items accounted for the remaining 21 percent. Seventy percent of exports were destined for other Caricom countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica; the United States received 26 percent of Antiguan and Barbudan exports. Imports mainly came from the United States and included food, beverages, and tobacco (33 percent in 1981) and manufactured goods (25 percent). Other items accounted for 43 percent. Other major trading partners were Britain and Canada. In 1986 exports were estimated to equal US$51.8 million, whereas imports were US$74.1 million, for a trade deficit of US$22.3 million. This gap, although still large, was reduced from the 1982 level, when the trade deficit was US$90 million.

Like the economy in general, the finance industry in the 1980s was controlled largely by foreigners. Predominant were a small number of British and Canadian banks and insurance companies. Loans, a source of commercial and consumer credit, constituted the main link between the financial elements and the rest of the economy. The private financial institutions favored the tourist and construction industries to the detriment of other areas of the economy. Seeing this as unsatisfactory, the government established its own banks and insurance companies, including the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank. Public institutions were a relatively insignificant part of the financial sector, however.

Antigua and Barbuda, as a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS--see Glossary), was a member of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. As such, it used the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which was created in July 1976 and pegged to the United States dollar at the rate of EC$2.70 equals US$1.00.

Data as of November 1987