Antiguans and Barbudans - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Antigua's economy remained almost singularly devoted to sugarcane for more than two centuries. The last sugar factory closed in 1972, but there are periodic attempts to revive that industry. Agricultural production is moving toward greater diversification, which includes fruits, vegetables, and grains (World Bank 1985, 15-16).

Tourism began to develop haltingly in the early 1960s; by the 1980s it had become the single most important economic activity in Antigua. Its direct value now accounts for approximately 21 percent of the gross domestic product, and at least 12 percent of the labor force is directly employed in this sector (World Bank 1985, 24). Other economic sectors include the personal-service industries, distributive trades, construction, transport, agriculture, and fishing. The government employs some 30 percent of the total work force (p. 4). Unemployment remained at around 20 percent through the first half of the 1980s.

Industrial Arts. Industrial activity includes processing local agricultural produce; some manufacturing of clothing, furniture, and household goods; and production of rum and other beverages. In 1983 manufactured exports represented about 85 percent of total domestic exports (World Bank 1985, 20). A handful of firms produce more than half of the output and employ at least half of the industrial work force. Crude oil, machinery, automobiles, luxury consumer items, and clothing are imported.

Trade. Antigua exports cotton, pineapples, live animals, rum, tobacco, and animal and vegetable products. Provision crops are consumed locally, with surpluses passed on to family and friends or sold for extra cash. The middle class depends heavily on imported foods and consumer items. People travel abroad specifically to shop for retail goods.

Division of Labor. Holding multiple jobs and sharing jobs are common in Antigua and Barbuda. For example, a man may work as a carpenter, keep cows, and rent a house. The growth of tourism has enabled many more people, particularly women, to enter the labor force. For the most part, however, household chores, tending gardens and domestic animals, and child care remain women's work even if they hold full-time jobs.

Land Tenure. The government owns nearly 60 percent of the available land in Antigua. The practice of offering short-term leases to individuals has not proved particularly conducive to land improvement. Barbudans individually own their homes in Codrington Village, but they hold in common lands beyond the village.

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