St. Kitts and Nevis imports approximately 4 times more value than it exports (US$160 million in imports against US$42 million in exports in 1998). This trade imbalance is only partly offset by tourism and other service revenues. Most troubling is the large food import bill, much of which is due to foodstuffs imported for the tourist sector but which also suggests that the islands are dependent on imports for basic nutritional requirements. Other imports are machinery, cars, fuel, and—since the recent hurricanes—building materials.
According to 1995 figures (the most recent available), the United States was the most important export market, taking 68.5 percent of merchandise, mostly garments and electronic components. The United Kingdom took 22.3 percent of exports, primarily sugar, while
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): St. Kitts & Nevis|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: St. Kitts and Nevis|
|East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1|
|Note: The rate for St. Kitts and Nevis has been fixed since 1976.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries received the remainder of exported goods. The United States was also the main source of imports (42.4 percent), with CARICOM countries supplying 17.2 percent, primarily food and fuel.