After steady growth in the 1980s and early 1990s, St. Lucia's economy slowed, partly due to the banana crisis and hurricane damage, and partly to a decline in manufacturing output. Gross domestic product growth from 1996 averaged 1.5 percent annually, the lowest rate in the Eastern Caribbean apart from volcano-devastated Montserrat. In 1998 and 1999 gross domestic product growth increased to 2.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, largely because of increased tourism and associated construction. Inflation has been low since the early 1990s, but prices rose by 3.5 percent in 1999, due in part to higher oil prices and increases in light and fuel bills.
St. Lucia's currency, the Eastern Caribbean dollar, is shared with the 7 other members of the Eastern Caribbean
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): St. Lucia|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: St. Lucia|
|East Caribbean dollars (EC$) per US$1|
|Note: The rate for St. Lucia has been fixed since 1976.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
Central Bank (ECCB): Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. It is stable and has been fixed at a rate of EC$2.70=US$1.00. This means that St. Lucia is less vulnerable to the fluctuating exchange rates of other countries, although transactions with Europe are affected by the value of the euro. When the euro is worth less than the dollar, Europe is able to buy fewer bananas from St. Lucia than the United States. There are plans for ECCB member countries to participate in a regional stock exchange, further integrating the economies of the small islands.