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ESO releases 2021 reports: Economy Expansion and Imports Growth

Cayman Islands economy expanded by an estimated 1.7% in the first nine months of 2021
As measured by the real gross domestic product (GDP), economic activity in the Cayman Islands is estimated to have increased by 1.7% in the first nine months of 2021.

Indicators suggest that the growth in economic activity was relatively broad-based, with only three sectors contracting. The largest positive changes were seen in real estate, which grew by 6.5%, and construction, which rose by 5.7%. The financing and insurance services sector, which remains the largest contributor to GDP, grew by an estimated 2.4% for the first nine months of the year.

Economic activity continued to be negatively impacted by the closure of Cayman’s borders in 2021, which led to a contraction in the hotels and restaurants sector and the transport sector.

The central government recorded an overall surplus of CI$62.8 million in the first three quarters of the year. This resulted from revenue of $784.7 million and expenditure of $721.9 million.

The central government’s outstanding debt declined to $235.1 million as at September 2021, lower than the $261.4 million recorded as at September 2020.

Merchandise Imports rebounded in 2021
The total value of the Cayman Islands’ importation of goods stood at $1,281.9 million, recording an increase of 15.0 percent for 2021. This growth resulted from increases in both non-petroleum as well as petroleum-related imports.

Non-petroleum imports amounted to $1,153.0 million, an increase of 12.4 percent. The increase occurred in most categories of imports, especially machinery and transport equipment such as road vehicles, general industrial machinery and equipment and electrical machinery and equipment.

Miscellaneous manufactured articles grew by 17.1 percent with increases in imports of articles of apparel, photographic apparatus, equipment and supplies and optical goods, as well as furniture and parts. Also recording growth was imports of manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials such as manufactures of metals, cork and wood manufactures and iron and steel.

Imports of chemicals grew by 27.4 percent for the year, reflecting increased medicinal and pharmaceutical products, plastics in non-primary form, and the larger importation of essential oils. Imports of food and live animals and beverages and tobacco grew by 3.5 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively, with the larger imports of food comprised of meat and vegetables and fruit, whilst the larger imports of beverages included both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Petroleum and petroleum-related imports recorded a significant growth of 44.0 percent to reach $128.9 million. This increase was driven by higher average prices of all major categories of fuel imported in 2021.

Merchandise Imports continued growth in 2021 Third Quarter
The total value of Cayman Islands merchandise imports grew to $326.86 million for the July to September 2021 quarter, an increase of 10.1 percent over the previous corresponding quarter, with non-petroleum and petroleum & petroleum-related imports growing by 5.4 percent and 71.7 percent, respectively.

Growth was recorded in the imports of most categories of the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), especially manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials (29.7%) such as manufactures of metals, wood, iron and steel imports.

Additionally, machinery and transport goods grew by 17.6 percent, primarily reflecting the increased imports of road vehicles; general industrial machinery and equipment; and some power-generating equipment.

Food and live animals increased by 11.0 percent, reflecting the larger importation of fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, and cereal, as well as beverages and tobacco by 32.5 percent.

In contrast, commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere fell by 31.5 percent and miscellaneous manufactured articles, which reflected the reduction in miscellaneous manufactured articles not elsewhere specified, by 49.9 percent.

Also of note is the increased importation of articles of apparel (39.3%) and furniture and parts (41.6%) for the September 2021 quarter.

There was a higher imported value of motor fuel, aviation and diesel fuel imported for the quarter, which is determined mainly by the significant increase in the average price of petroleum products imported, which is estimated to have grown by approximately 72 percent for the third quarter of 2021.

More information on the “The Cayman Islands’ Quarterly Trade Statistics Bulletin: July to September 2021,” is available at


Issued by: Economics & Statistics Office (ESO)