Economy - overview: The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for 70% of GDP. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances, and bauxite/alumina. The global economic slowdown, particularly after the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, stunted economic growth; the economy rebounded moderately in 2003, with one of the best tourist seasons on record. But the economy faces serious long-term problems: high interest rates; increased foreign competition; a pressured, sometimes sliding, exchange rate; a sizable merchandise trade deficit; large-scale unemployment; and a growing internal debt, the result of government bailouts to ailing sectors of the economy. The ratio of debt to GDP is close to 150%. Inflation, previously a bright spot, is expected to remain in the double digits. Depressed economic conditions have led to increased civil unrest, including gang violence fueled by the drug trade. In 2004, the government faces the difficult prospect of having to achieve fiscal discipline in order to maintain debt payments while simultaneously attacking a serious and growing crime problem that is hampering economic growth.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - Unless otherwise noted, information in this page is accurate as of April 17, 2004
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