Bonaire’s international goods trade up by a fifth in 2021

Lorry is being loaded on Bonaire
© We Share Bonaire/Jan Wachtmeester
On Bonaire, the value of both imports and exports of goods increased by one fifth relative to 2020 last year. Both Bonaire and Saba saw their trade deficits rise. St Eustatius, on the other hand, recorded a lower trade deficit compared to 2020. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of newly released figures.

The islands of the Caribbean Netherlands have structural trade deficits: more goods are imported than exported. Production of goods is relatively low on the islands in comparison with the European part of the Netherlands. In general, an increase in goods trade therefore results in larger trade deficits. In the Caribbean Netherlands, most revenue comes from services (tourism in particular). However, this news release focuses on goods trade only.

Bonaire: higher trade deficit due to record imports

In 2021, Bonaire ran a trade deficit of 282 million US dollars. This amount is one fifth higher than in the previous year. In 2020, the island’s trade deficit narrowed for the first time in six years.

In 2021, goods imports represented a value of 292 million US dollars, the highest amount since measurements started in 2011. Imports increased by 48 million US dollars between 2020 and 2021; nearly half of the increase occurred in the fourth quarter. Goods imports in this quarter amounted to 88 million US dollars, another record.

Bonaire exported 10 million US dollars in goods last year. The export value was up by a fifth on the previous year.

Value of goods imports and exports on Bonaire
JaarImport value (million USD)Export value (million USD)Trade balance (million USD)
*provisional figures

Bonaire’s trade deficits in machinery and food increased the most

There are no indications that the development of the trade deficit on Bonaire, but also on Saba and St Eustatius, is directly related to the coronavirus crisis. In 2021, Bonaire recorded higher deficits than in the previous year for virtually all goods categories.

Bonaire’s trade deficit grew by 46 million US dollars between 2020 and 2021. Machinery and transport equipment accounted for the larger part of this amount (19 million US dollars), followed by food and live animals (10 million US dollars). These two categories also contribute the most to the island’s deficit in absolute terms. Last year, Bonaire recorded a trade deficit in machinery and transport equipment of 77 million US dollars, one third higher than in 2020. The trade deficit in food and live animals rose by 22 percent to 55 million US dollars in 2021.

Bonaire's trade deficit
 2021* (million USD)2020 (million USD)
Machinery and transport equipment7758
Food and live animals5545
Manufactured goods4442
Chemical products2825
Beverages and tobacco2320
*provisional figures

St Eustatius: lower imports for fourth consecutive year

Between 2020 and 2021, Statia’s trade deficit declined for the fourth year in a row, by 4 percent. Goods imports exceeded exports by 38 million US dollars. Imports fell by 5 percent to 39 million US dollars. The export value (1 million US dollars) was 28 percent below the level of 2020.

Saba: trade deficit up

In 2021, Saba imported 6 percent more goods than in 2020. The import value stood at 22 million US dollars. The export value amounted to nearly 1 million US dollars, up by 64 percent. On balance, Saba’s trade deficit increased by 5 percent in 2021.

Goods trade deficits of St Eustatius and Saba
 St Eustatius (million USD)Saba (million USD)
*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: