Capital city: Castries
Population: 184,332 (2021)
Land area: 617 km²
Official language: English
Legal system: A mix of civil and English common law
Time zone: GMT-4
Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD)
GDP: 1.79 USD Billion (2021 est.)
Main industries: Tourism, clothing, assembly of electronic components, beverages, corrugated cardboard boxes, lime processing, coconut processing
Principal exports: Crude petroleum, beer, jewellery, bananas, refined petroleum
St Lucia has successfully managed to integrate the tourism and manufacturing industries as principal sectors which contribute significantly to the country’s economy, following a previous dependence on banana exports. The tourism industry attracts the majority of foreign direct investment to the island, with new hotel and resort ventures seen across the island. The Government has also launched a number of effective infrastructure projects, which have already improved the country’s road network.
St Lucia is most actively involved with its fellow Caribbean Commonwealth nations, trading actively within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and promoting economic integration and cooperation through its membership of the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS).
The population of St Lucia reached 183,627 as of September 2020 and has been growing at a steady rate of 0.5 percent since 2015, with just under 20% of the population residing in urban areas, principally around the capital city of Castries, which is home to some 22,000 people. Those aged between 25 and 54 years dominate the country’s demographic, accounting for around 43 percent of the population as of January 2020. Meanwhile, under 24s comprise just under one third of the total population with the workforce increasing by 5.9 percent from Q1 to Q2 2019, reaching 100,714.
St Lucia’s GDP reached US$2.12 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach around US$2.10 billion in 2021, according to the World Bank. Services dominate, contributing 75.18 percent to GDP, with in turn making up 65 percent, not to mention being the main source of foreign exchange revenue and employing a majority of the workforce.
Meanwhile industry contributed around 9.97 percent to GDP in 2019, with the manufacturing sector being accredited as the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean. It contributed over US$47 million to the island’s GDP in 2017 and US$50 million 2018, which suggests that the industry has a solid foundation on which it is growing.
Agriculture, while accounting for only 2 percent of GDP in 2019, employs around 20 percent of the population. Bananas are the main agricultural products, with 48 percent of the island’s arable land used for growing the fruit.
As at January 2020, St Lucia’s near-term growth prospects were considered favourable by the IMF, mainly supported by large infrastructure investment and tourist inflows.
In 2018, St Lucia’s exported a total of US$55.1 million of goods, with exports primarily comprising crude petroleum (32.9 percent) and bananas (14.6 percent). Other notable exports include beer (comprising 7.7 percent of total exports) and broadcasting accessories (6.63 percent). The most common export destinations in 2019 included Peru (32.9 percent), the UK (12.6 percent) and the US (12.1 percent).
Meanwhile, St Lucia’s imports of goods totalled US$1.9 billion in 2018, with the majority coming from Columbia (41.8 percent), followed by the US (26.2 percent) and Brazil (21.5 percent). Mineral products are the principal imports, accounting for around 85 percent of all imports.
As for services, St Lucia imported a total of US$398 million in 2018, the majority of which were other business services (US$192 million) followed by transportation (US$100 million) and travel (US$56.3 million). The primary services export in 2018 was travel (US$989 million) followed by Government services (US$28.9 million) and transportation (US$13.6 million).
St Lucia is party to a number of trade agreements, including those with Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Colombia, being a member of CARICOM. It is also party to the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
St Lucia’s judiciary follows the English common law system, however some describe the country’s system as hybrid due to the influence from French civil law and the Napoleonic Code. The island hosts the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which is the final national court of appeal for its nine member states. The court has two divisions: The High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal. St Lucia may also refer cases to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which serves 14 Caribbean states, and also to the Judicial committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.
The Government of St Lucia strongly encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) and has introduced a number of tax and non-tax incentives to further both FDI and domestic investment. There are also no limits on foreign ownership or sectors in which foreign investors may invest.
In 2018, a total of US$40.03 million was injected in to a variety of sectors in St Lucia, the majority of which flows into the tourism sector. New ventures notably include the construction of a Mariott Courtyard at Point Seraphine, a fourth Sandals resort and an extension to the Choc enterprise in the form of a hotel.
St Lucia has recently turned a particular focus to infrastructure projects. A notable example is the US$175 million airport terminal project funded by Government-guaranteed loans from Taiwan. Other infrastructure projects include the new Forestierre Road Project, an upgrade of 3.27km of road, which was officially opened on 1 March 2020., the rehabilitation of Millennium Highway and West Coast Road and the development of a Vieux Fort Cruise Port.
The Government has meanwhile been striving to increase the attractiveness of investments in the agriculture sector, particularly the production of cocoa, honey and livestock, and is doing so through initiatives such as the Banana Productivity Improvement Project.
The manufacturing sector has been one of St Lucia’s biggest success stories in terms of investment in recent years, having become a key focus for the Government in terms of employment and investment generation. Recent examples include the partnership between Invest Saint Lucia and Itel-B-P-O Smart Solutions in constructing a 20,000 sq ft factory in Hewanorra Free Zone, a factory which opened in April 2020 and houses 300+ employees.
In terms of the health sector, the St Lucian Government set out plans in 2019 to invest US$162 million into a National Health Fund, which aims to implement various health initiatives including the establishment of National Health Insurance and the construction of both the Owen King EU and the St Jude’s Hospitals. The Government also plans to increase the number of health clinics on the island in an effort to promote healthcare.