Barbados Economics and Business

Barbados is a small island nation in the Caribbean located east of the Windward Islands and north of Trinidad and Tobago. The economy of Barbados is largely reliant on tourism, international business and finance, and agriculture. The services sector accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP, with tourism being the largest contributor. Tourist arrivals have been increasing steadily since 2000, reaching a record high in 2019.

According to cheeroutdoor, the Barbados economy has also benefited from foreign direct investment as well as a highly educated workforce. Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the Caribbean, with almost 100% of its population having at least some level of education, making it an attractive location for foreign businesses to invest in. Furthermore, Barbados has a well-developed financial sector which includes several international banks offering a range of financial services including banking, insurance and investments.

Agriculture is another important sector in Barbados’ economy, although it only contributes around 5-6% to GDP. The main agricultural products are sugarcane (which accounted for nearly 40% of agricultural output in 2017), bananas, sweet potatoes and other root crops such as yam and cassava. Livestock farming is also an important part of agriculture in Barbados with poultry production being particularly significant and accounting for around 30% of total agricultural output in 2017. The government has implemented various initiatives to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the agricultural industry including providing subsidies to local farmers as well as investing in research initiatives related to food security and sustainable agriculture practices.

According to COUNTRYAAH, Barbados is among the Caribbean’s most prosperous states. The country’s economy has traditionally been based on sugar production, but from the first part of the 1970s tourism took over as the main source of income. Tourism accounts for more than half of the country’s revenue, and every year Barbados is visited by far more tourists than there are local residents. In 2001, service industries employed 76% of the workforce and contributed approx. 80% of GDP. The financial sector with so-called upshore banking has become increasingly important. Both the sugar industry and tourism are seasonal and there is great unemployment at times and many barbades go abroad after work.

Barbados GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

The vast majority of agricultural land is used for sugar cane. Sugar production has declined in recent years, partly as a result of reduced demand in the world market. The authorities have therefore stimulated the cultivation of other crops, including cotton (Gossypium barbadense) and tropical fruits. Otherwise, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, yam roots and other vegetables are grown, mainly for local consumption. The primary industries employed 4.2% of the working population in 2001, accounting for 4.7% of the gross domestic product in the same year.

The industry includes manufacturing of rooms, sugar factories as well as the manufacture of chemicals, plastics and rubber products, textiles, electronic components and cigarettes. In 2001, the industry employed approx. 20% of the workforce and contributed approx. 17% to GDP. Some crude oil and natural gas are also extracted.

Foreign Trade

The main export goods are sugar, molasses and rum, chemicals, electronic components and clothing. Imports include machinery and transport equipment, food and oil products. Major trading partners are the United States, the United Kingdom and other Caricom countries, in particular Trinidad and Tobago.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Barbados, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.

Transport and Communications

Abbreviated as BRB by, Barbados has dense road network. Bridgetown has a deep water port and is the only port city of importance. Seawell International Airport at the southern tip of the island, 18 km from the capital.

Note: the capital city of Barbados is Bridgetown with a population of 110,000 (2016 estimate). Other major cities include Speightstown.

Barbados Economics and Business

History. – Probably first visited by Portuguese, Barbados was occupied by the English in 1605: the ship Olive Blossom, finding it uninhabited, he took possession of it in the name of James I, thus extending the English support points in the West Indies (a few years earlier the island of Virginia had also been occupied), which would have served to counter the Spanish domination in the Americas. The first permanent settlement dates back to 1625: at first the colonists based their resources more on smuggling to the detriment of Spain and on piracy than on local crops; sugar cane, which would have been the main source of the island’s fortune, yielded only little profit as it was not allowed to fully ripen. Only towards 1640 Dutch colonists from Brazil taught more suitable methods of cultivation and the plantations spread rapidly: in 10 years the population had increased to about 100,000 Negroes and 50,000 Whites. In 1667 France recognized England as possessing the island; this, unlike Jamaica, a refuge for many Puritan elements, was rather home to realist elements. In the following years, a fierce competition in the cultivation of sugar followed by Jamaica (English since 1655), which reduced the white population from 70,000 individuals in 1670 to 18,000 in 1724. Other fierce blows were the loss of the sugar market. United States, after the acquisition of independence, competition from Mauritius (English since 1810) and Cuba, the abolition of trafficking (1812) and that of slavery (1834), the cultivation of beet in Europe. However, cultivation has regained importance under the pressure of the law of free trade and the production of sugar.

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