Economy of St Kitts and Nevis
KEY FACTS 2015
GNI: US$836 million
GNI p.c.: US$15,060
GDP growth: 3.8% p.a. 2011–15
Inflation: -2.3% p.a. 2011–15
St Kitts and Nevis was virtually a sugar monocrop economy until the late 1970s, when the government backed a drive into small-scale industrialisation. Tourism has become the largest source of foreign exchange. From 1984 a small offshore sector on Nevis grew rapidly, with around 18,000 companies registered by 1999, and in 2005 St Kitts initiated a registry of ships and yachts; by the end of the decade it had registered some 1,000 vessels.
Despite the challenges of industrial diversification at such small scale, electronics assembly, food-processing, and beverages and clothing production were developed, and by the 2000s sugar production only accounted for 20 per cent of GDP, finally ceasing in 2005.
Foreign debt rose rapidly from the mid-1990s, in large measure due to the consequences of five hurricanes in five years. After strong growth in 2000, the economy hardly grew in 2001–03, reflecting the downturn in the USA and consequent fall in tourism, but there followed investment in new tourist resorts and golf courses, and the economy picked up in 2004. It then maintained 5.0 per cent p.a. over 2004–08, slowing from 2008 with the onset of the world economic downturn in that year, and shrinking by 6.9 per cent in 2009 and 2.4 per cent in 2010, before returning to steady growth in 2011–14.