Growing trade deficits in the Caribbean Netherlands

In 2017, the trade deficits of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were higher than in the previous year. In relative terms, St Eustatius saw the sharpest increase in annual deficit. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

The Caribbean Netherlands has a structural trade deficit, with imports exceeding exports. Production is relatively low on the islands in comparison with the European part of the Netherlands.

Trade deficit one and a half times higher on St Eustatius

In 2017, the trade deficit of St Eustatius amounted to 52 million US dollars, 50 percent up on the previous year. Imports of goods on St Eustatius rose by 50 percent (55 million US dollars) while exports rose by 58 percent (2.5 million US dollars) relative to 2016. The value of imports was at its highest in Q4 2017, namely 15 million US dollars.

Saba: imports up, exports down

On Saba, imports were up and exports were down in value on 2016. The island’s annual trade deficit in 2017 stood at 17 million US dollars, an increase of 7 percent. The highest import value on Saba was recorded in Q2.

Highest import value on Bonaire in Q4

Bonaire’s trade deficit amounted to 202 million US dollars in 2017, 5 percent up on the previous year. Both imports and exports increased. In Q4, Bonaire imported 60 million US dollars worth of goods, representing the highest quarterly value of 2017 and the highest import value since measurements started in 2011.

Trade deficits Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba (million US dollars)
 2017*20162015
Bonaire201.9191.9184.4
St Eustatius52.434.939.7
Saba1715.821.9
* = provisional figures

Fewer imports of manufactured goods on Bonaire

Bonaire imported 213 million US dollars worth of goods in 2017, 6 percent more than in 2016. Import values were higher in virtually all product sections. The sharpest increase was seen in machinery and transport equipment and in mineral fuels. Only the import value of manufactured goods and chemical products was lower.

Bonaire; top 4 import values of product sections with largest share in 2017 (million US dollars)
 Machinery and transport equipmentFood and live stockVarious manufactured goodsManufactured goods
201340.529.624.724.8
201438.932.425.723.6
201547.333.826.432.1
201650.335.13235.4
2017*57.336.532.431.9
* = provisional figures

In 2017, Bonaire’s exports grew by 25 percent to 11 million US dollars; the export value of raw materials rose most notably, to 3.5 million US dollars. In 2016, higher export values were mainly seen in the salt trade.

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