The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) comprise a diverse set of small and open economies highly prone to natural disasters, including: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Because of their size, they also tend to specialize in a few products and services but cannot benefit from economies of scale. These countries rely extensively on tourism and to a lesser extent agriculture, but do not have a diversified enough market for their products and services, and as a result, are subject to excessive volatility.
The impact of the 2008 global financial crisis was severe as tourism, remittances, and financial activity decreased sharply, growth rates plummeted, debt and fiscal imbalances increased to high levels, and labor market conditions deteriorated. Despite high human development indices, OECS countries have not succeeded in reducing poverty to levels compatible with their level of per capita income. Unemployment, especially among women and youth, remains high. On the other hand, tourism activity seems to show a steady recovery in most countries, bolstered by a strengthening US economy. Tourist arrivals to the OECS rose by 3.1 percent in the first semester of 2016, when compared with the first semester of 2015, reflecting increased arrivals by air from the USA, the UK and Canada.
The forecast for total growth of the Gross Domestic Product in 2016 is approximately 2.5 percent for the region, based on the improved performance of key sectors such as tourism, construction and agriculture, as well as low fuel prices
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2016