OCTs share similar characteristics which represent particular challenges to ensure economic growth: geographical isolation resulting in high transportation costs, small size of their economy (in particular small size of the local market), high dependency on imports (including of energy sources) and sometimes on financial transfers, poor diversification of exports of goods and services, low competitiveness of the local industries, and, in some cases limited national institutional capacity. In the context of globalization, efforts to enhance OCTs competitiveness are necessary, so that OCTs assets are capitalized upon for achieving sustainable growth, while taking into account the regional contexts and difficulties. Strengthening the resilience of OCTs is essential; so as to address the economic, environment and natural disasters related vulnerabilities of OCTs.
Despite their common characteristics which prompted them to get together and create OCTA, OCTs still display a number of differences between them in terms of relative wealth, geographical characteristics, physical isolation and internal political organization. In terms of relative wealth, the revenue per capita is very diverse, ranging between € 4 000 and € 40 000 per capita. Half of the OCTs have an income per capita of less than €13 000 per inhabitant. In view of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the social situation in the majority of the OCTs is not one of absolute poverty as internationally defined, although there is a heavy dependence on financial assistance either from the related EU Member State or from the EU.