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Curacao Economy


Although a few plantations were established on the island by the Dutch, the first profitable industry established on Curaçao was salt mining. The mineral was a lucrative export at the time and became one of the major factors responsible for drawing the island into international commerce. Curaçao also became a centre for slave trade during the 17th and 18th centuries.

In the 19th century, phosphate mining also became significant. All the while, Curaçao's fine deep water ports and ideal location in the Caribbean were crucial in making it a significant centre of commerce.

Curaçao has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, with a GDP per capita of $ 20,500 (2009 est.) and a well-developed infrastructure. The main industries of the island include oil refining, tourism and financial services. Shipping, international trade and other activities related to the port of Willemstad (like the Free Zone) make a contribution to the economy. To achieve the government's aims to make its economy more diverse, significant efforts are being made to attract more foreign investments. This policy is called the 'Open Arms' policy with one of its main features to focus heavily on information technology companies. For its size, the island has a considerably diverse economy which does not rely mostly on tourism alone as is the case on many other Caribbean islands.

Beginning in January 2014, the Lynx rocket-plane is expected to be flying suborbital space tourism flights and scientific research missions from a new spaceport on Curaçao.

Curaçao has business ties with the United States, Venezuela and the European Union. It has an Association Agreement with the EU which allows companies which do business in and via Curaçao to export many products to European markets, free of import duties and quotas. It is also a participant in the US Caribbean Basin Initiative allowing it to have preferential access to the US market.


Economy - overview :
Tourism, petroleum refining, and offshore finance are the mainstays of this small economy, which is closely tied to the outside world. Although GDP grew slightly during the past decade, the island enjoys a high per capita income and a well-developed infrastructure compared with other countries in the region. Curaçao has an excellent natural harbour that can accommodate large oil tankers. The Venezuelan state oil company leases the single refinery on the island from the government; most of the oil for the refinery is imported from Venezuela; most of the refined products are exported to the US. Almost all consumer and capital goods are imported, with the US, Brazil, Italy, and Mexico being the major suppliers. The government is attempting to diversify its industry and trade and has signed an Association Agreement with the EU to expand business there. Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture. Budgetary problems complicate reform of the health and pension systems for an ageing population.

GDP (purchasing power parity) :
$2.838 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate) :
$5.08 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate :
3.5% (2008)

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