Gross domestic product grew by 1.8 percent in 2018, and is expected to grow another 2 percent this year, according to recently released statistics from the Caribbean Development Bank.
The 1.8 percent growth rate was an increase from the 0.6 percent growth the region experienced in 2017, a year when many islands suffered severe damage from hurricanes. The estimates are for Caribbean Development Bank member jurisdictions, and do not include major Caribbean economies such as Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Grenada led the region, growing by 5.2 percent last year. The Caribbean Development Bank projected the country to grow by 4.5 percent in 2019, which would be its sixth-straight year of growth.
Other high-performing jurisdictions included Guyana, which grew by 3.4 percent, as well as Antigua and Barbuda, which grew by 3.5 percent.
Guyana’s growth rate was largely due to increased construction activity in advance of the first commercial production of oil there in 2020, according to the Caribbean Development Bank.
Cayman was the fourth-best performing jurisdiction in the region, growing by 3.2 percent. This estimate varies slightly from the Economics and Statistics Office, which estimates that growth in 2018 was likely 3.4 percent. The development bank is projecting Cayman to grow by 2.6 percent this year.
The British Virgin Islands and Dominica grew at rates of 2.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, in 2018. The growth marked a turnaround from 2017, when they were both hit by Hurricane Irma and experienced economic contractions as a result.
However, the Caribbean Development Bank noted that the BVI’s tourism industry still took a hard hit last year, with visitors falling by 50 percent. The BVI economy still grew because of its resilient financial services industry and reconstruction activity, according to the development bank.
Anguilla, meanwhile, did not recover as well as other hurricane-hit jurisdictions. Its economy continued to shrink last year by 2.4 percent after also experiencing negative growth in 2017.
The other Caribbean economy to shrink was Barbados, where the Caribbean Development Bank is headquartered.
That country contracted by 0.6 percent after growing by 1 percent in 2017.
“A fall in construction activity as well as the impact of the fiscal consolidation led to economic contraction in Barbados, despite a modest increase in tourist arrivals,” the Caribbean Development Bank explained.