Its economy depends primarily on tourism, banana production, and light manufacturing. An educated workforce and improvements in roads, communications, water supply, sewerage, and port facilities have attracted foreign investment in tourism and in petroleum storage and transshipment. However, with the U.S., Canada, and Europe in recession, tourism declined by double digits in early 2009. Because of fluctuations in banana prices and possible World Trade Organization–imposed reductions in European Union trade preferences, the government is encouraging farmers to diversify into such crops as cocoa, mango, and avocados. The recent change in the European Union import preference regime and the increased competition from Latin American bananas have made economic diversification increasingly important in Saint Lucia. The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, which is the island’s main source of revenue. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalize the banana industry. Despite negative growth in 2001, economic fundamentals remain solid, and GDP growth should recover in the future.
Inflation has been relatively low, averaging 5.5 percent between 2006 and 2008. Saint Lucia’s currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCL) issues the EC$, manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in member countries. In 2003, the government began a comprehensive restructuring of the economy, including elimination of price controls and privatization of the state banana company. Five points were deducted from Saint Lucia’s monetary freedom score to adjust for measures that distort domestic prices.