Malleable Musings

August 17, 2009

Reflections on Exchange Rates (II)

Filed under: International Student Recruitment — Brendan @ 2:32 am

When I was in Hong Kong earlier in the year I noticed how the changes in foreign exchange rates would have affected our business.  It has therefore been interesting for me to see the changes in the Caribbean since I was last here.

What I’ve found particularly interesting is that my last workplace priced in GBP£ whilst my new one prices in USD$.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  Across most of the English speaking Caribbean local currency is pegged to the USD$.  The exceptions are Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana.  The table below shows the fluctuation in exchange rates over the last ten years (mid point averages have been used).

Countries 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
GYD$:US$ 184.75 189.6 192.55 197.6 201.7 200.6 201.1 203.5 203.8 168.7
JMD$:US$ 43.32 46.08 48.54 58.2 61.4 62.6 65.9 69.1 72.92 88.83
TND$:US$ 6.3 6.23 6.25 6.26 6.3 6.3 6.3 6.33 6.2891 6.32
US$:GBP£ 0.6594 0.7062 0.6524 0.6044 0.5497 0.5582 0.5446 0.498 0.5017 0.5993

The main effect here is the depreciation of the Jamaican Dollar.  Because we’ve been charging in USD$ students in Jamaica who started last year have in effect been hit by a 20% increase in the cost of their course.  If we had been charging in GBP£ it would have just been a 2% rise!

The view from Shirey Heights, Antigua

The view from Shirey Heights, Antigua

In terms of the rest of my trip I haven’t really noticed many indications of changes in economic pressures on the sectors of the population that we’re targeting however tourism seems down, which will have impacts.

One change that I have noticed is that it has been a very different type of trip to the type I would have undertaken with my previous employer.

For example on my previous trips Sundays were premium time.  They were an ideal day to meet students/potential students.  However on this trip it’s more focussed on the business connections so today I only had to meet a contact for dinner and drinks in the evening.  So having read a couple of financial reports I had a bit of a free day.  This meant I managed to get out to Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour in Antigua and have a look around.  It’s the only surviving Georgian dockyard in the Caribbean and is a bit special.

I then managed to get up the nearby hill, Shirley Heights (457m) where I took this photo.  It’s probably a two mile walk each way from the dockyard but it was well worth the walk.

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