Even in the midst of recent world economic downturns, the St. Lucia economy remains solid due primarily to the island’s stable political environment and educated work force. This assessment is substantiated by the continuation of foreign investment into a number of economic sectors.
While bananas represented the nation’s chief source of income since the 1960s, the growth in tourism brought that sector to the forefront early in this century.
The estimated St. Lucia employment statistics show the services sector providing approximately 55% of the jobs while light industry/manufacturing and agriculture account for approximately 24% and 21% respectively.
As Saint Lucia rapidly gained recognition as a premiere tourism destination over the past decade a corresponding increase in foreign investment in the industry has been realized. Several major developments within the sector are currently underway or have been approved. The island’s Offshore Financial Services sector also saw an upsurge in outside investment in the past five years.
The island’s banana industry has been affected by World Trade Organization rulings which have effectively eliminated trade preferences given the island by the European Union in the past.
All of Saint Lucia’s bananas are currently exported to the United Kingdom and existing contractual arrangements with major supermarket chains has kept the local industry in reasonable stead but the future is uncertain. Because of this, the Ministry of Agriculture is actively encouraging and assisting farmers to diversify with crops such as cocoa, mangos, and avocados, all of which are currently exported.
Saint Lucia’s manufacturing sector is among the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean and represents an area of potential growth.
Recent and ongoing improvements in the island’s infrastructure is a significant factor in the growth of the tourism industry and in the maintenance of an overall stable economy.