Netherlands Antilles and Aruba - International trade

Lacking a developed agricultural and manufacturing sector, the Netherlands Antilles are wholly dependent on imports for their food, raw materials, and manufactured goods. And typical of the smaller Caribbean island states, such imports significantly exceed the value of exports. In 1998 this imbalance ran to over US$1 billion. The country is especially susceptible to increases in the price of oil, which constitutes 64 percent of its imports; the remaining 36 percent is made up of food and manufactures. Import partners include Venezuela (35.3 percent), the

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Netherlands
Exports Imports
1975 2.395 2.956
1980 5.162 5.676
1985 1.031 1.388
1990 1.789 2.146
1995 N/A N/A
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

United States (21 percent), Mexico (9.8 percent), Italy (5.4 percent), the Netherlands (4.8 percent), and Brazil (3.1 percent).

Petroleum makes up 98 percent of all Antillean exports. Even more so than with the import market, the export trade is overwhelmingly regional, with customers including the United States (17.5 percent), Guatemala (8 percent), Costa Rica (6.5 percent), the Bahamas (4.6 percent), Jamaica (4.1 percent), and Chile (3.4 percent).

Aruba also leans heavily on imported food and manufactures but has been more successful at containing its deficits. A lowering in the demand for oil in the international market in the 1980s caused the trade imbalance to tilt heavily into deficit, but recovery of sales has seen the import-export gap narrow by a dramatic 80 percent from 1999 to 2000, falling from a trade deficit of US$298.8 million to US$60.3 million. The main customer of Aruban exports is the United States, which in 1998 took 53.2 percent of its goods; other important partners are Colombia (14.9 percent), and the Netherlands (8.8 percent). The United States is also the primary supplier of imports to Aruba (55.5 percent), with the Netherlands (12.3 percent) and Japan (3.5 percent) also significant.

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