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Antigua & Barbuda Economy
 
 
 

General

Tourism dominates the economy, accounting for more than half of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Antigua is famous for its many exclusive luxury resorts. Weak tourist activity since early 2000 has slowed the economy, however, and squeezed the government into a tight fiscal corner.

Investment banking and financial services also make up an important part of the economy. Major world banks with offices in Antigua include the Bank of America (Bank of Antigua), Barclays, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Scotia Bank. Financial-services corporations with offices in Antigua include Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC).

The twin-island nation's agricultural production is focussed on its domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labour shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction work.

Manufacturing is made up of enclave-type assembly for export, the major products being bedding, handicrafts and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on income growth in the industrialised world, especially in the United States, from which about one-third of all tourists come.

Following the opening of the American University of Antigua College of Medicine by investor and attorney Neil Simon in 2003, a new source of revenue was established. The university employs many local Antiguans and the approximate 1,000 students consume a large amount of the goods and services.

Antigua & Barbuda is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency (the East Caribbean dollar) for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

Antigua & Barbuda is a beneficiary of the US Caribbean Basin Initiative. Its 1998 exports to the US were valued at about $3 million and its US imports totaled about $84 million. It also belongs to the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Overview

Economy - overview :
Tourism continues to dominate Antigua & Barbuda's economy, accounting for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment. The dual-island nation's agricultural production is focused on the domestic market and constrained by a limited water supply and a labour shortage stemming from the lure of higher wages in tourism and construction. Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on tourist arrivals from the US, Canada, and Europe and potential damages from natural disasters. After taking office in 2004, the SPENCER government adopted an ambitious fiscal reform program, and was successful in reducing its public debt-to-GDP ratio from 120% to about 90% in 2008. However, the global financial crisis that began in 2008, has led to a significant increase in the national debt, which is expected to top 130% by the end of 2010. The Antiguan economy experienced solid growth from 2003 to 2007, reaching over 12% in 2006 driven by a construction boom in hotels and housing associated with the Cricket World Cup, but growth dropped off in 2008 with the end of the boom. In 2009, Antigua's economy was severely hit by the global economic crisis, suffering from the collapse of its largest financial institution and a steep decline in tourism. This decline is expected to continue in 2010 as the country struggles with a yawning budget deficit.

GDP (purchasing power parity) :
$1.522 billion (2009 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate) :
$1.178 billion (2009 est.)


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