Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2013

Increasing the Industries

WillemstadThe Situation

Following on from recent reports which outline the seeming lack of internal productivity within our tiny island nation, it is perhaps time for the people of Curacao to reflect upon just what it is that keeps us ticking along steadily year after year.

On such subjects as the economy, industry and productivity- Curacao, it would appear; acts to divide general opinion into two separate and fundamentally opposing camps. While the country boasts one of the highest standards of living among the Caribbean contingent, and indeed the world at least in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GPD) per capita (ranking in at 46th world over), there has undeniably been a bit of a slope in the growth of profitable business on the island within recent years.

The implications of sub-par economic growth, while on the surface appearing as far from drastic, can and will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the future prosperity of Curacao.

The Details

Curacaos current GDP is an estimated $20,000 per capita, a figure which sees the nation rank well within the top 50 most wealthy on the planet, proportionately speaking. A well-developed infrastructure coupled (and in turn supplemented by) an array of capital generating and internationally relevant industries largely acts to keep the nations head above the rising tides.

With such an observation, many people may question the recent animosity reported in relation to the country’s current economic pathway. However if the situation is picked apart more delicately, further light may be shed on the motivation of the critics.

The argument maintained outlines that, although the standard of living in Curacao is comparatively rather high, the output performed by the nation year on year is far less than it ought to be. The premier catalysts behind the islands subpar economic score in comparison to likened peers such as Trinidad, Barbados and Singapore, and as outlined by TAC Financial in its report entitled ‘Strategies for Sustainable Long Term Economic Development in Curacao’- include education, ratio and expertise of skilled professionals as well as general drive and positivity of the contributing population.

With a labor force of over 60,000 people and an annual GPD of little over $5billion, at this point it may be wise to take a closer look at the main areas of Curacaos economy:

Tourism

By and large the biggest and most profitable source of revenue for the economy of Curacao, tourism is responsible for the influx of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars each year on the island.

The cash brought in by visitors acts to employ Curacao citizens in any number of commercial roles, ensuring on-going work for many generations now.

Oil Refining

With the discovery of an abundance of crude oil in the nearby Maracaibo Basin of Venezuela, it seems only fitting that Curacao fast became a location of sourcing, mediation and dispatch in this industry.

Since the early 20th century oil has accounted for a huge portion of the islands exports, employing a huge number of people in the process.

Finance

Curacaos role within international finance originates as far back as the Second World War, when the island was used as a safe haven by many Dutch companies seeking to escape Nazi persecution in Europe.

Since this time, many of the world’s leading financial institutions have set up camp on the island, in turn employing thousands of inhabitants in internationally revered and relevant roles.

Looking Ahead

The future growth of Curacao and its economy relies heavily not only upon the continued fruition of the existing industries in place on the island, but the assurance that the nation can and will continue to adapt alongside the up and coming diligences out there in the wider world. This a point relevant on all levels, from hyper-local business of the uttermost grass-roots level, right through to the realms of international trade and export. It is important that growth and in turn the potential for growth be considered at all turns in the road, whether this refer to restricting the potential for foreign traders in place of those that are domestically based, or assuring that local businesses of all sizes are provided with as much commercial assistance as possible. For example, more lenience when it comes to loans and insurance policies for start-ups of all levels, from taxi companies to tour providers. The island nation is far from sinking into the sea in a world blemished throughout with economic strife, however a firmer grip on just what is needed to maintain that high standard of living could do wonders for the future.

By Melissa Hathaway for Curacao Chronicle (all rights reserved)

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