62new_G15_Spotlight_Bahamas

Global Issue 15

Spotlight The Bahamas Playing to win The Bahamas, a collection of bejewelled islands off the American Atlantic coast, is one of the richest nations in the Americas in terms of per capita GDP, but its fortunes took a body blow during the global economic crisis. Now it is battling to resume its growth curve Sherelle Jacobs The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, in the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of more than 700 islands, islets and cays. Close to Cuba and Florida, the collection of islands was the haunt of pirates and slave-traders in the 17th century and later became a British plantation colony. Today it has the well-deserved reputation as a ‘paradise playground’ for tourists wishing to enjoy its miles of beaches, its laid-back lifestyle and the fabulous sport fishing possibilities it provides. It has also developed into a major off-shore financial centre. Economically, it punches well above its weight. Before the global financial crisis, The Bahamas enjoyed the highest per capita income in the Americas and is still among the wealthiest countries in the region. Its 2012 GDP registered US$10.6 billion, with per capita GDP at $30,400 for a population of just 350,000. The country was ranked 77th out of 185 countries in the 2012 World Bank Ease of Doing Business index. The Bahamas, which is in the process of becoming a member of the World Trade Organization, is also part of the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union and also has an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Community, along with 14 other Caribbean countries. Tourism and financial services are the key planks of The Bahamian economy. Up to five million tourists visit each year, accounting for around 60 per cent of GDP and employment for half the labour force. Financial services accounted for 36 per cent of GDP in 2011. Other areas of the economy – tiny in comparison but with much potential – include alternative energy and the technical industry. The Bahamas’ modest exports include rum, crawfish, pharmaceuticals and cement. The country has undergone rapid urbanisation in recent years, as the population moved from small fishing villages to the cities in search of work in the two main industries. 62 l www.global -br ief ing.org thi rd quar ter 2013 global


Global Issue 15
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