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Jamaica: Economy#

The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which accounts for more than 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. Remittances and tourism each account for 30% of GDP, while bauxite/alumina exports make up roughly 5% of GDP. The bauxite/alumina sector was most affected by the global downturn while the tourism industry and remittance flow remained resilient.

Jamaica's economy faces many challenges to growth: high crime and corruption, large-scale unemployment and underemployment, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 130%. The attendant debt servicing cost consumes a large portion of the government's budget, limiting its ability to fund the critical infrastructure and social programs required to drive growth. Jamaica's economic growth rate in the recent past has been stagnant, averaging less than 1% per year for over 20 years.

Jamaica's onerous public debt burden is largely the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy, most notably the financial sector. In early 2010, the Jamaican Government initiated the Jamaica Debt Exchange to retire high-priced domestic bonds and reduce annual debt servicing. Despite these efforts, debt continued to be a serious concern, forcing the government to negotiate and sign a new IMF agreement in May 2013 to gain access to approximately $1 billion in additional funds. As a precursor, the government instigated a second National Debt Exchange in 2012. The IMF deal requires the government to reform its tax system, eliminate discretionary tax exemptions and waivers, and achieve an annual surplus of 7.5%, excluding debt payments, to reduce its debt below 100% of GDP by 2020. The SIMPSON-MILLER administration now faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious crime problem that is hampering economic growth. High unemployment exacerbates the crime problem, including gang violence, which is fueled by the drug trade.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$25.39 billion (2016 est.)
$25.01 billion (2015 est.)
$24.78 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$13.78 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate1.5% (2016 est.)
0.9% (2015 est.)
0.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$9,000 (2016 est.)
$8,900 (2015 est.)
$8,900 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving12.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
12% of GDP (2015 est.)
14.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 84.5%
government consumption: 14.8%
investment in fixed capital: 22.4%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 33.9%
imports of goods and services: -56.1% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 6.7%
industry: 21.3%
services: 72% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productssugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus, yams, ackees, vegetables; poultry, goats, milk; shellfish
Industriestourism, bauxite/alumina, agricultural-processing, light manufactures, rum, cement, metal, paper, chemical products, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate1.7% (2016 est.)
Labor force1.312 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 17%
industry: 19%
services: 64% (2006)
Unemployment rate13.8% (2016 est.)
14% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line16.5% (2009 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 35.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index45.5 (2004)
37.9 (2000)
Budgetrevenues: $3.885 billion
expenditures: $4.033 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues28.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-1.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt130.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
126.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year1 April - 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.5% (2016 est.)
3.7% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate2% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate16.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
16.98% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$3.567 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.542 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$8.241 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.182 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$6.995 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.881 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$6.39 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$7.223 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$6.626 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Current account balance-$456 million (2016 est.)
-$484 million (2015 est.)
Exports$1.278 billion (2016 est.)
$1.261 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesalumina, bauxite, sugar, rum, coffee, yams, beverages, chemicals, apparel, mineral fuels
Exports - partnersUS 24.4%, Canada 16.5%, Russia 9.3%, Netherlands 8.9%, Iceland 7.2%, UK 6.5% (2015)
Imports$3.772 billion (2016 est.)
$4.414 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfood and other consumer goods, industrial supplies, fuel, parts and accessories of capital goods, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partnersUS 32.6%, Venezuela 12.4%, China 12%, Trinidad and Tobago 11.1% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.914 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$16.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$16.49 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesJamaican dollars (JMD) per US dollar -
125.2 (2016 est.)
116.898 (2015 est.)
116.898 (2014 est.)
110.935 (2013 est.)
88.75 (2012 est.)