Since the discovery of bauxite deposits in the 1950s, Jamaica has become increasingly active in international trade and has gradually loosened its ties to the Commonwealth and increased commercial contacts with North America and the Caribbean. On the supply side, the Jamaican government is committed to attracting foreign investment; and on the demand side, Jamaica is a consumer oriented country, that produces very little of its major necessities. The US supplies at least 50% of Jamaica's food needs, but two-thirds of all tourists come from the US. Jamaica has never recorded a visible trade surplus. In February 1991, the government implemented the CARICOM Common External Tariff (CET), creating the first customs union in the Caribbean.
This island's most lucrative exports are alumina and bauxite (56%), while the garment industry comes second (11%). Sugar (6.4%), rum (4.4%), and fruits (bananas) and nuts (2.5%) are the important agricultural products.
In 2000 Jamaica's imports were distributed among the following categories:
Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows:
|Trinidad and Tobago||22||320||-298|
|China (inc. Hong Kong)||6||46||-40|