Jamaica Economy Facts

Economical overview

Bauxite, tourism, telecommunications service centers as well as money shipments from Jamaicans abroad provide the main revenue in Jamaica. The informal sector is also important.

In the 1960s, the economy was based almost exclusively on the cultivation of sugar cane and other tropical crops, for own use and export. Since then, the economy has been transformed and the service sector is now dominating. However, growth has been significantly lower than in neighboring countries since the 1970s, and per capita income has increased only slowly since the early 1990s. At the same time, the informal sector is estimated to correspond to around 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

  • Countryaah.com: Major imports by Jamaica, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Exports of bauxite and alumina as well as a great need for imported oil make the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in the international economy. The economy has been hampered by social unrest in the country and by a number of natural disasters, mainly hurricanes.

Tourism accounts for almost a third of GDP. The sector is a major source of foreign currency. Money that foreign Jamaicans send to relatives is estimated to yield almost as much currency and accounts for one sixth of GDP.

  • Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including JAM which represents the country of Jamaica. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Jamaica.

Trade with the EU is important

Jamaica and other former colonies to EU countries have gradually lost many of the benefits they previously had on the EU market through the so-called Cotonou Agreement. The negative effects this has, not least on sugar and banana exports, are offset to some extent by the fact that since 2008 Jamaica has an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.

Jamaica is drawn with large deficits in the state budget. Government debt, which consists of both foreign and domestic loans, has been above 100 percent of GDP since the turn of the millennium. Among the causes of the large budget deficit are modest tax revenues and large wage costs in the public sector.

The dependence is high on aid and loans from, among other things, the Inter-American Development Bank and individual countries. Since the late 1970s, the country has implemented loan programs with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the budget deficits and increase growth. The measures have meant austerity, increased taxes and the privatization of state-owned enterprises.


GDP per person

US $ 5,356 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 15,718 million (2018)

GDP growth

1.9 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

6.7 percent (2018)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

7.7 percent (2018)

The service sector’s share of GDP

59.2 percent (2018)


3.6 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

94.4 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 14 722 million (2017)


Jamaican dollar

Merchandise exports

US $ 1,895 million (2018)


US $ 5,437 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 464 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

50 percent (2018)

Main export goods

bauxite, aluminum, sugar, bananas, rum

Largest trading partner

USA, Canada, EU countries, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago

Jamaica Economy Facts

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