The smallest country in South America, Suriname is an upper middle-income country and was one of the Caribbean’s best performing economies over the last decade, largely due to its rich endowment in natural resources. The economy grew by 4.3 percent per year on average between 2004 and 2014, bringing the per capita income to US$9,680 (Atlas method) by the end of the period. With the end of the commodity boom, GDP growth came to a halt in 2015 and the economic crisis deepened in 2016 as the country continued to feel the effects of a sluggish rebound in in international commodity prices, rapid currency depreciation and high rates of inflation. The World Bank and other international financial institutions are supporting the government’s economic reform program to stabilize the economy. Recent investments in large oil and gold operations are expected to help GDP growth recover in 2017.
Suriname’s economy is characterized by strong dependence on exports of extractives and a large public sector. Alumina, bauxite, gold and oil have historically made up three-quarters of total exports and have accounted for a large share of the government’s revenue (peaking at around 40 percent in 2011–2012). These factors make the economy vulnerable to shocks from changes in world commodity prices. A new gold mine opened in October 2016 and is already making a substantial contribution to the balance of payments. The government plays a large role in the economy: it employs over half of all workers, and state-owned firms dominate a number of industries. Most of Suriname’s population and economic activities are located in low-lying coastal areas that are vulnerable to rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, and strong winds.
To address these issues, Suriname’s 2012–16 National Development Plan placed a high priority on economic diversification through broad private sector development, strong social services programs, and better management of disaster risks. In May 2016 the government released the Recovery and Stabilization Plan 2016–18, which lays out a program of fiscal and monetary policy adjustments to stabilize the economy, along with policy and institutional reforms that will facilitate private sector activity. The World Bank and other international financial institutions are supporting implementation of these reforms.
Last Updated: Apr 10, 2017