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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) underlies key features of business cycles. To obtain new measures of classical and growth cycles, simple rules were applied to date turning points in the classical business cycle, and a recently developed frequency domain filter was used to estimate the growth cycle. At the regional level, the ECCU countries are facing two shocks, i.e., the depreciation of the U.S. dollar and the depreciation of the Dominican Republic’s peso. The countries of the ECCU have experienced modest erosion in their price and nonprice competitiveness.

International Monetary Fund
The sharp global recession has been taking a toll on the St. Kitts and Nevis economy. The staff report examines the St. Kitts and Nevis 2009 Article IV Consultation and request for Emergency Natural Disaster Assistance. Economic activity has weakened markedly, particularly in tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI)-related construction, the drivers of growth in recent years. The drop-off in tourism receipts, FDI, and other capital flows could lead to a worsening of the balance-of-payments position.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation explains that St. Lucia’s near-term growth prospects are favorable, supported by large infrastructure investment and robust tourist inflows. However, longer-term growth continues to be impeded by high public debt, lingering vulnerabilities in the financial system, and structural impediments to private investment. Diminishing policy buffers further weaken the country’s resilience to external shocks against the backdrop of aprecarious global outlook. Completion of long pending legislative initiatives, alongside stronger regional and domestic financial oversight, should provide banks with incentives to strengthen their balance sheets and increase the efficiency of financial intermediation. There is also a need to draw on supervisory and regulatory tools to respond to emerging risks from rising overseas investments of the banks and the rapid expansion of lending by credit unions. The authorities are recommended to should step up efforts to address the institutional, financing and capacity gaps in its climate and disaster response strategy. Supply-side reforms are needed to unlock potential growth by improving the business environment, reducing energy costs, enhancing labor productivity, and further diversifying the economy.
John M. Piotrowski, Mr. Rabah Arezki, and Reda Cherif
The present paper investigates whether tourism specialization is a viable strategy for development. We estimate standard growth equations augmented with a variable measuring tourism specialization using instrumental variables techniques for a large cross-section of countries for the period 1980-2002. We introduce an instrument for tourism based on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We find that there is a positive relationship between the extent of tourism specialization and economic growth. An increase of one standard deviation in the share of tourism in exports leads to about 0.5 percentage point in additional annual growth, everything else being constant. Our result holds against a large array of robustness checks.
Mr. Mauricio Vargas and Daniela Hess
Using data from 1980-2017, this paper estimates a Global VAR (GVAR) model taylored for the Caribbean region which includes its major trading partners, representing altogether around 60 percent of the global economy. We provide stilyzed facts of the main interrelations between the Caribbean region and the rest of the world, and then we quantify the impact of external shocks on Caribbean countries through the application of two case studies: i) a change in the international price of oil, and ii) an increase in the U.S. GDP. We confirmed that Caribbean countries are highly exposed to external factors, and that a fall in oil prices and an increase in the U.S. GDP have a positive and large impact on most of them after controlling for financial variables, exchange rate fluctuations and overall price changes. The results from the model help to disentangle effects from various channels that interact at the same time, such as flows of tourists, trade of goods, and changes in economic conditions in the largest economies of the globe.
Mr. Manuk Ghazanchyan, Li Zhao, Steve Brito, and Vivian Parlak
Tourism has become the main driver of economic growth and employment and the most important source of income in the ECCU. Preserving and, possibly, enhancing the competitiveness of the tourism product is key for these countries. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that tourism arrivals to the ECCU have been declining slightly while global demand for tourism is on the rise. The objective of this paper is to study the structural determinants of competitiveness for the ECCU, defined as the relative cost advantage over other touristic regions (Di Bella, Lewis, and Martin 2007). Using a gravity model, we show that proximity to North American and European markets is indeed an important competitive advantage for the ECCU. However, despite this advantage, and, in some cases, specialization in high-end tourism, regression analysis shows that arrivals to the ECCU are sensitive to relative prices. Our simulations show that mitigating supply-side constraints would improve the ECCU’s competitiveness and allow the region to regain global market shares.
Ms. Nicole Laframboise, Miss Nkunde Mwase, Mr. Joonkyu Park, and Yingke Zhou
The Caribbean share of the global tourism market has been declining. This study examines what is driving tourism flows. It estimates the determinants of tourism and explores variations based on sample differences, and also constructs a static nominal price comparison index. The paper finds that: (i) tourism arrivals and expenditure are sensitive to both price and income factors in source markets; (ii) price and income elasticities of tourism have declined since 2008; (iii) price elasticity is statistically insignificant for “high-end” destinations; and (iv) the nominal cost of an average one week beach holiday in the Caribbean is higher than in other beach destinations around the world. These results point to the need for structural reforms to raise product quality, cost reduction or containment in “low-end” destinations, including possibly via exchange rates, and an adjustment in aggregate consumption to adapt to the implications of a lower contribution to GDP from tourism.
International Monetary Fund
This paper studies recent developments in tourism in the East Caribbean countries (ECC) and reviews government policies to support tourism. The paper also presents a model to explain the movements of tourist arrivals to the region during 1970-86. The estimated model is used to project future tourist arrivals in the ECC.