Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

In the 1980s, St. Lucia's economy was similar to those of other small eastern Caribbean islands. Its primary productive sectors were agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, which provided 14.2 percent, 9.6 percent, and 7.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP-see Glossary), respectively. Other significant contributors to aggregate economic output were government services (19.6 percent), the wholesale and retail trade (14.3 percent), and transport and communications (10.1 percent). The national economy still depended on the agricultural sector for most of its foreign exchange but had made gains in developing the manufacturing sector, as well as attracting a greater portion of the West Indies' tourist trade. In sum, the economy performed well in the first half of the 1980s, a particularly impressive achievement considering that much of the island was devastated by Hurricane Allen in 1980.

The economy was open and highly dependent on foreign trade. It was, therefore, very susceptible to the international effects of the trade policies and economies of its two primary trading partners in the 1980s, the United States and Britain. Both countries were assisting the island with economic development.

In the 1980s, St. Lucia was implementing a long-term coordinated development program aimed at creating a diversified economic structure and gaining access to foreign markets. With extensive public sector investment, as well as private and public foreign assistance and investment, St. Lucia hoped to achieve sustained growth by expanding all of its primary economic sectors, particularly tourism and manufacturing.

Macroeconomic Overview

National economic production has experienced both structural change and growth since the 1960s. Traditionally dependent on agriculture, St. Lucia was dramatically transformed in the 1960s from a sugar-based economy to one dedicated to banana production. This trend improved the economic situation of the small farmer because banana crops, unlike sugar, could be produced on small plots.

For more recent information about the economy, see Facts about Saint Lucia.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress