Higher trade deficits on Bonaire and Saba in 2019

© Staysly Goilo Photography
In 2019, Bonaire saw the highest increase in trade deficit among the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. Saba’s deficit was up as well, while St Eustatius’ deficit was lower relative to 2018. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

The Caribbean Netherlands has a structural trade deficit, with more imports than exports of goods. In comparison with the European part of the Netherlands, production is relatively low on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.

Bonaire: trade deficit up by 30 percent within five years

In 2019, Bonaire’s goods imports exceeded exports by 241 million US dollars. Its trade deficit rose by 30 percent over a period of five years. Relative to 2018, the increase was 13 percent. The same percentage increase applied to the import value, which amounted to 253 million US dollars last year. The bulk of this growth was on account of machinery. The export value (12 million US dollars) was up by 29 percent year-on-year.

Import and export value of goods on Bonaire
PeriodenImports (million US dollars)Exports (million US dollars)Trade balance (million US dollars)
* provisional figures

Saba: imports virtually unchanged, exports down

On Saba, the value of imports stood at 21 million US dollars in 2019, just as in the previous year. Exports declined by 60 percent relative to 2018. On balance, Saba’s trade deficit grew by 2 percent to 21 million US dollars last year.

St Eustatius: sustained decline in trade deficit

After a peak in 2017, St Eustatius’ trade deficit continued its year-on-year decline from 2018 into 2019. Having dropped by 6 percent, the total deficit stood at 44 million US dollars last year. Both imports and exports remained below the level of 2018. The value of imported goods declined by 11 percent to 45 million US dollars. Goods exports amounted to 1 million US dollars, 68 percent down on the level in 2018.

Trade deficits of St Eustatius and Saba
PeriodenSt Eustatius (million US dollars)Saba (million US dollars)
* provisional figures

Increase in Bonaire’s trade deficit mainly due to machinery and transport equipment

In 2019, imports of machinery and transport equipment on Bonaire exceeded exports by 76 million US dollars. This trade deficit was almost one-third up on 2018 and almost entirely accounted for the increase in the total trade deficit. Other categories of goods saw a less marked increase. The trade deficits in manufactured goods (+10 percent) and in food and live animals (+8 percent) follow at some distance.

In absolute terms, machinery and transport equipment contributed the most to Bonaire’s total trade deficit. Nearly one-third of the 241 million US dollars was on account of this goods category. Imports of food and live animals, and of manufactured goods exceeded exports by 44 and 38 million US dollars respectively.

Composition of Bonaire's trade deficit
GoederenMachinery and transport equipment (million US dollars)Food and live animals (million US dollars)Manufactured goods (million US dollars)Chemical products (million US dollars)Beverages and tobacco (million US dollars)Raw materials (million US dollars)Mineral fuels (million US dollars)Other (million US dollars)
* provisional figures


A Papiamentu translation of this news release can be obtained from Statistics Netherlands’ office on Bonaire by sending a request via email to: caribischnederland@cbs.nl