Suriname's bauxite exports and aid grants (especially from the Netherlands, Belgium, and the European Union) have tended to keep its trade account more or less balanced, and the country ran a balance of payments surplus until 1997. A heavy reliance on imports—especially food and consumer goods —combined with the fall of commodity prices for Surinamese products and the suspension of Dutch aid in 1997, pushed the account in 1998 into the red. In that year, exports were valued at US$406.1 million and imports at US$461.4 million.
In 1999 alumina and aluminum accounted for 71 percent of all exports, with the remaining 29 percent derived from rice, bananas, shrimp, and timber. Suriname's main export customers in that year were the United States (23.2 percent), Norway (19 percent), Canada (10.8 percent), and the Netherlands (9.6 percent). The main import suppliers were the United States (34.9 percent), the Netherlands (14.8 percent), and Trinidad and Tobago (12.2 percent).
Suriname joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1995, eliminating all tariffs on CARICOM products in 1996 and with the hope that the region would one day be a pan-American free-trade area. This move has tended to shift trading relations away from Europe, Suriname's traditional source of imports, and towards the U.S. and Caribbean region.
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Suriname|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: Suriname|
|Surinamese guilders, gulden, or florins per US$1|
|Note: Beginning in July 1994, the central bank midpoint exchange rate was unified and became market determined; during 1998, the exchange rate splintered into four distinct rates; in January 1999 the government floated the guilder, but subsequently fixed it when the black-market rate plunged; the government currently allows trading within a band of SRG 500 around the official rate.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|