Montserrat – Country Profile
Official Name: The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
Central Secretariat: Castries, Saint Lucia
Members: Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Associate members: Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands
Total land Area: 2808 sq km
Population: 598,000 (2010)
Currency: 2.70 Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD) = 1US$
Languages: English, French patois (Commonwealth of Dominica & Saint Lucia)
Note: 2010 data in US dollars unless otherwise indicated
Political and Economic Stability
n the 1980s the OECS region experienced a relatively strong rate of economic growth (5.9% per annum) thanks mainly to tourism, banana exports and public investment financed by development assistance. This period of economic growth was followed by a decline in the early 1990s, and in the last decade, growth has varied considerably.
The small size of these economies leaves them particularly vulnerable to unforeseen forces: a natural disaster can lead to a recession, and subsequent reconstruction to a boom. Their vulnerability is also in part due to local production patterns sometimes reflecting long-standing unilateral preferences granted by a few trading partners. Although growth rates differ considerably across these countries, on average they have been in the 3-4% a year range. In recent times, OECS member states have successfully moved away from an overreliance on agriculture and towards tertiary activities, most notably tourism and offshore financial services.
The global financial and economic crisis of 2008 adversely affected the economies of the OECS countries. However, prospects for recovery are improving, with all OECS economies expected to emerge from recession over the course of the subsequent 2-5 years.
The current political climate of the islands of the OECS is relatively stable. All member states boast open democracies with strong (over 80%) participation in elections. Over the past four years all member states with the exception of Saint Lucia have held general elections (Saint Lucia’s is due to be held in 2011-12).
In terms of security, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has not issued any official travelling warnings for these countries. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the DFAIT Travel Report: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Source: Industry Canada – Trade data on line 2010
The World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report ranks economies from 1 to 183 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. The following is the ranking of the respective countries within the OECS.
The estimated average time required to ship goods from the OECS is approximately 13 days, at an average estimated cost of US$1,150.00. To complete the export process, an estimated six forms are required: a packing list, bill of lading, certificate of origin, commercial invoice, customs export declaration, insurance certificate
Although there are many reputable exporters in the OECS, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption can be an issue when doing business. Canadian companies are advised to exercise due diligence before working with any exporter.
The following is the ranking (where available) for member states of the OECS.
|Commonwealth of Dominica||34|
|Saint Vincent &the Grenadines||31|
In recent years the economies of the OECS has been growing at a modest pace fuelled by the services, agriculture and manufacturing industries. Trade continues to play a critical role in the continued growth and socio-economic development of these economies. Main exports include: spices, sugar, bananas, fruits, vegetables, paper products, soap products, clothing, electrical apparatus, tourism & financial services. Canada remains one of the main export markets for the countries of the OECS. The main merchandise exports include ferrous products obtained by direct reduction of iron ore, rum, lobster and crawfish, fruit, condiments and seasonings, sauces and preparations, vegetables and biscuits.
In recent times, the OECS which is also part of the wider regional grouping of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) have been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. This agreement replaces the CARIBCAN Agreement, a non-reciprocal preferential trade agreement which granted unilateral duty free access to eligible goods from beneficiary countries in the English-speaking Caribbean up to 2011.
The Canada-CARICOM FTA is a bilateral free trade agreement with CARICOM and is expected to deliver commercial benefits across many sectors of the Canadian economy, including industrial goods (e.g. pharmaceuticals, products of base metals such as iron, steel, and copper, electrical equipment), agriculture (e.g. French fries, pork cuts, pulses), fish and seafood. In some of these sectors, CARICOM tariffs range from 5-60%. A trade agreement with CARICOM would also provide a more secure and predictable business environment for Canadian investment in CARICOM, and enhance market access for Canadian service providers (e.g. professional services, research and development).
TFO Export Offers
TFO Canada provides an information service for Canadian importers interested in sourcing products from developing and emerging economies such as the OECS. This includes practical advice on sourcing from developing country exporters, a customized news bulletin and a searchable database for sourcing new products or suppliers. The chart below provides an estimate of the number of OECS supplier profiles available in the TFO Canada supplier database online.
|Industry Group||No. of suppliers in TFO Canada database|
|Food products and beverages||9|
Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service in Toronto
200 Consumers Road, Suite 409
Tel: (416) 222-1988