Jamaica is open to foreign trade, which represents 73% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). The country is a member of Caricom and WTO. Current negotiations and commercial issues affecting Jamaica include greater Caribbean integration, post-Cotonou negotiations and Jamaican relations with the U.S. In 2021, the country’s main exports were petroleum oils (29.1%), corundum (27.7%) and aluminium ores and concentrates (5% as Jamaica accounts for around 10% of the world’s production of bauxite and 8% of the world’s production of aluminium), and undenatured ethyl alcohol (4.5%); whereas imports are led by petroleum oils (20.9%), petroleum gas (4.8%), cars (4.6%) and medicaments (2.5% - Comtrade).
Jamaica’s main export partners are the United States (50.7%), the Netherlands (10.2%), Canada (6.8%), the UK (4.4%), and Russia (3.1%); while its main imports partners are the United States (40.8%), Brazil (8.6%), China (7.8%), Japan (3.5%), and Turkey (3.2% - data Comtrade 2021). Jamaica was one of nine Caribbean countries that signed an agreement with the U.K. to maintain commercial relations after Brexit. The country has liberalized its trade to boost its economy. Jamaica and other countries participating in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) have harmonized their import tariffs applied to third countries. Nevertheless, import duties on some agricultural products and certain consumer goods remain high in order to protect local producers. Some tax exemptions have also been eliminated and the country benefits from certain assets, such as its marine harbours, seaports and high-quality transportation infrastructure, as well as uncomplicated custom regulations.
The foreign trade balance is structurally negative; however, the current account deficit had been gradually improving in recent years, especially due to the contraction of imports. According to WTO, in 2021, the country’s exports of goods were valued at USD 1.4 billion (+18.2% year-on-year) while imports stood at USD 5.9 billion (+26.8% y-o-y). With regard to services, exports amounted to USD 3 billion (+41.9% y-o-y), with imports totalling USD 2.5 billion (+52.6% y-o-y), making Jamaica a net service exporter. Data from the World Bank show that in 2021 the country’s trade balance was negative by 18.2% of GDP (from 17.7% one year earlier). According to preliminary figures from the National Institute of Statistics, Jamaica’s total spending on imports increased by 25.4% in 2021 (to USD 5,975.6 million), whereas earnings from domestic exports rose by 10.0% (to USD 1,281.3 million). In the same period, the main import partners were the United States of America, Brazil, China, Japan and Turkey (63.3% of total imports cumulatively); with exports being directed mostly towards the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Russian Federation, Canada and the United Kingdom.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||5,818||6,126||6,339||4,712||5,976|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||1,310||1,878||1,586||1,219||1,441|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||2,301||2,353||2,568||1,678||2,561|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||3,492||3,798||4,305||2,114||3,001|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||6||6||4||-27||12|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||5||8||4||-30||26|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||-3,553||-3,515||-4,031||-2,949||-2,826|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||84||90||90||66||73|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||49||51||52||42||46|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||35||39||38||24||28|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.
(% of Exports)
|See More Countries||24.8%|
(% of Imports)
|See More Countries||36.2%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|1.4 bn USD of products exported in 2021|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals||29.1%|
|Artificial corundum, whether or not chemically...Artificial corundum, whether or not chemically defined; aluminium oxide; aluminium hydroxide||27.7%|
|Aluminium ores and concentratesAluminium ores and concentrates||5.0%|
|Undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength...Undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength of < 80%; spirits, liqueurs and other spirituous beverages (excl. compound alcoholic preparations of a kind used for the manufacture of beverages)||4.5%|
|Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons||3.3%|
|See More Products||30.5%|
|6.0 bn USD of products imported in 2021|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals||11.2%|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude||9.7%|
|Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons||4.8%|
|Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702)||4.6%|
|Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006)||2.5%|
|See More Products||67.2%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows
|3.8 bn USD of services exported in 2018|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||80.97%|
|2.5 bn USD of services imported in 2018|
|Personal travelPersonal travel||9.63%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||1.76%|
Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data
Member of Free Trade area of America
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Latest Update: September 2023