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Gross domestic product in the Caribbean grew by 0.6 percent last year despite being impacted by some of the strongest hurricanes in the region’s history, and is projected to grow by 2 percent this year, according to recently released statistics from the Caribbean Development Bank.

The Caribbean Development Bank estimated that Grenada, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Antigua and Barbuda had the highest growth rates, at 4.5 percent, 3.4 percent, and 3 percent, respectively.

Cayman was estimated to have grown by 2.7 percent, and is projected to grow by 3.2 percent in 2018.

Jamaica also had its best economic performance since 2006, growing an at estimated rate of 1.7 percent.

“There were strong performances in tourism, construction, and manufacturing,” the development bank stated, projecting that Jamaica will set a new high with a 2.3 percent growth rate this year “as agriculture recovers and mining picks up following the opening of a new operation.”

Most of the Caribbean GDPs grew, but Dominica, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname contracted by 6.9 percent, 3.5 percent, 2.7 percent, 1.2 percent, and 1 percent, respectively.

“Both hurricanes caused considerable damage to economic and social infrastructure, and loss of life,” stated the Caribbean Development Bank, referring to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. “Authorities estimate the cost of damage and losses at about 225 percent of GDP in Dominica and more than 300 percent in the BVI.”

The Caribbean Development Bank added that the social impacts of the storms are yet to be assessed, but the consequences of displacement and unemployment are “potentially severe for future growth prospects.”

In the Turks and Caicos, most of the hurricanes’ impact was felt in the cruise industry, but overnight tourism was “less affected,” according to the development bank.

Looking forward to 2018 GDP estimates, the Caribbean Development Bank projected that all of the region’s economies will grow. Belize and Trinidad will return to positive growth due to recovery in the energy and commodities sectors, the bank predicted. The region’s 2-percent growth projection will largely be driven by Jamaica, which accounts for about a fifth of the Caribbean’s GDP, according to the Caribbean Development Bank.

However, regional economies need to implement “resilience-building measures,” such as stricter building codes and the development of indemnity insurance markets, the institution noted.

To that end, the Caribbean Development Bank approved some US$104 million in rehabilitation and reconstruction loans for Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, and the BVI.

“Such cataclysmic events are the new normal for our region. This is why our interventions in economic and social infrastructure are rooted in climate resilience,” stated Caribbean Development Bank Director of Projects Daniel Best.

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