Caricom trade teetered in 2020; Jamaican exports fell by 15 per cent

CONDITIONS caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic disturbed trading activity globally and the same was seen among countries which make up the trading community of Caribbean Community (Caricom).

In 2020, Jamaica's major trading partners in Caricom — Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat — saw slippage in trading, for the most part.

Data supplied to the Jamaica Observer by the Caricom trade desk of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) indicate that total imports into the island from these countries were $253.43 billion (US$1.68 billion at $151=US$1), while exports by Jamaica to these islands totalled $67.81 billion in 2020. This, compared to imports in 2019 of $302.68 billion (US$2 billion) versus exports to the Caricom countries of $79.97 billion.

Imports into Jamaica from its Caricom trading partners fell by $49.25 billion or 16 per cent in 2020 when compared to 2019. Exports also declined by $12 billion or 15 per cent in 2020 compared to the year before. Imports coming from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica's main Caricom trading partner, which totalled $173.15 billion in 2019, fell by 20 per cent or $35.26 billion in 2020, when it was $137.89 billion. There were also declines to Guyana, Barbados and Suriname, which are the countries that receive the highest levels of exports from Jamaica, by value.

From import and export data for the period January to April 2021 provided by Statin, imports from these eleven nations totalled $91 billion, while exports totalled $21.28 billion. Performance is on par with 2020 as, for the similar period last year, imports from the Caricom trading partners totalled $81.28 billion in imports and $21.9 billion in exports. While in total, exports from Jamaica to these nations are tracking far behind imports, for more than half of the islands, Jamaica is the dominant trader with more exports than imports.

For six of the islands, Jamaica exported more than it imported. These were Antigua and Barbuda (imports $155.79 million in imports vs $6 billion in exports); Dominica ($1.4 billion vs $ 5 billion); Grenada ($434.09 million vs $2.1 billion); Montserrat ($101,000 vs $248 million); Saint Kitts and Nevis ($14.79 million vs $1.57 billion); and Saint Lucia ($1.05 billion in imports vs $5.04 billion in exports).

Countries which dominated in trade with Jamaica in 2020 included Trinidad and Tobago ($137.89 billion in imports to Jamaica vs $13.47 billion in exports received); Suriname ($42.78 billion in imports vs $2 billion in exports); Guyana ($33.74 billion in imports vs $19.41 billion in exports); Barbados ($24.92 billion in imports vs $9 billion in exports); and Belize ($11.1 billion in imports vs $4.1 billion in exports.)

In 2019 the trend remained the same, with Jamaica dominating in trade with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia. Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana, Barbados, and Belize also dominated the trading relationship in 2019 but Jamaican exports to these countries showed a significant fall-off year over year.

Exports from Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago were comparatively lower, with $24.72 billion exported to this nation in 2019 vs $13.47 billion in exports in 2020. The same trend was seen for Suriname ($2 billion in exports in 2020 vs 6.7 billion in 2019), for Guyana ($19.41 billion in exports in 2019 vs $7.53 billion in 2020 ), and Barbados ($12.9 billion in exports for 2019 vs $4 billion in 2020). Jamaica retained unchanged trading levels with Belize, exporting $4 billion in 2019 and $4.1 billion in 2020.

Jamaica's major trading partner, with an estimated 38 per cent of exports, is the United States. According to the US census data on foreign trade, Jamaican exports to this country are also on the decline. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 9 per cent of Jamaican exports, as cited by the World Bank. The island's total trade deficit in 2020 was US$791.48 million, an increase over US$723.50 million in 2019.

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