Suriname’s economy has been dominated by the mineral and energy sectors (gold, oil, and alumina) which account for approximately 30% of GDP. Agriculture and manufacturing, though relatively small, remain important goods producing sectors.
The service sector, 45% of GDP, is driven primarily by trade and transport activities, while personal services and transport and communications have been the fastest growing sectors. In 2001, financial services overtook trade, restaurants and hotels as the single most important service activity in the country. The tourism sector is 15% of GDP. The informal sector is also significant and may increase current estimates of GDP by up to 16% according to the Bureau of Statistics.
In 2012, the economy expanded by 4.7%, broadly in line with the outturn in 2011. The economy continues to benefit from buoyant commodity export prices (gold, petroleum, and alumina), elevated government spending and large capital investments in the mineral and energy sectors. Growth is expected to average around 4-5 % over the medium-term. Major new gold and bauxite mines are to be opened in 2013 providing further impetus to economic growth and government revenue.
A key challenge for the economy is the containment of fiscal pressures in the face of recent increases in wages and capital expenditure. The fiscal balance fell by 5 percentage points to a deficit of 4 % of GDP in 2012. The economy is also susceptible to commodity price fluctuations, particularly gold which accounts for 67 %of exports and 13 % of fiscal revenues.
To mitigate some of these impulses, the authorities have been and are expected to remain vigilant, tightening fiscal and monetary policies as needed. Additional efforts to improve structural competitiveness should be intensified to engender inclusive growth.
Suriname’s levels of poverty and inequality remain worrisome. The country ranked 105 out of 187 countries in the UNDP’s 2012 Human Development Index. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 15-20% of its population is undernourished. There are also significant inequalities between coastal areas, generally more affluent, and the rural interior. Suriname is on track to meet some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with rural areas mostly lagging behind the coastal region.