Caribbean: a sea of investment opportunities.
A wide array of national and regional initiatives are now underway to enhance the region's appeal, with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) playing a lead role in financing development-related projects, including:
* An urban redevelopment project in the Bridgetown marina in Barbados.
* Airport expansions in Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands
* Modernization of sugarcane cultivation in Guyana
* Expansion of facilities at the University of Technology in Jamaica
* Flood control and drainage projects in St. Lucia
For private investors, these types of CDB-supported programs help lay the groundwork for successful ventures, both directly and indirectly.
Based in Barbados, the CDB makes direct loans to governments, public agencies, private entities, and international development programs.
At the annual meeting of its Board of Governors, May 1415 in St. Kitts and Nevis, the CDB will review progress on a host of investment projects, like providing micro-economic development grants to encourage the development of entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago, and the rehabilitation of 14 schools in Grenada, including training in special education and curriculum development.
In Dominica, the CDB is assisting in upgrading roads, buildings and interpretation displays for five ecotourism sites--Hot Soufriere, Freshwater Lake, Morne Diablotin, Middleham Falls and the Carib Territory--and encourage increased visitor flows to the island. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 23 kilometers of the Windward Highway are being reconstructed with CDB assistance to facilitate traffic flow and promote the area's economic activity.
"The effectiveness of CDB is high, as can be seen in the impact of its operations on economic growth, poverty reduction, protection of the environment and social indicators of development," said Reginald Farley, the Barbados CDB governor at the board's 2002 meeting. "Progress has been made across the region in raising the quality of life."
Dr. Keith Rowley, governor for Trinidad and Tobago, added that the CDB must also be a catalyst of structural change in the Caribbean as well. "Its role should include the provision of assistance to our small economies in addressing the challenges of globalization, expansion of regional trading blocs and movement towards the Caribbean Single Market and Economy."
Other regional organizations, such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are also working to advance economic growth. For instance, on March 15, CARICOM and Costa Rica concluded a free trade agreement that is expected to help the Caribbean's manufacturing sector.
These types of programs are designed to help the Caribbean states take advantage of their central location in the Western Hemisphere and traditional ties to Europe, and create new opportunities for private investment.
RELATED ARTICLE: St. Kitts: A financial hub of the Eastern Caribbean
With its strong regulatory framework and numerous opportunities for investment, St. Kitts is poised to become a hub for financial activity in the Eastern Caribbean region. As part of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, an English-speaking parliamentary democracy, St. Kitts offers the international financial community a highly literate workforce that includes attorneys, managers and other professionals. Another advantage is St. Kitts' modern telecommunications and Internet services, and competitive telecom rates.
"As one of the more recent international financial centers to emerge in the world, St. Kitts has something to offer every investor," says Shawna Brisbane, director of the Marketing and Development Department in the Ministry of Finance. "We have very favorable fiscal incentives for investors in financial services, manufacturing, hotels and tourism, and especially the technology sector."
Financial services is one of St. Kitts' strongest sectors. Two key components are the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, which issues the Eastern Caribbean Dollar and supervises both domestic and offshore banks in the region, and the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange, which opened in 2002.
St. Kitts was one of the first islands in the Eastern Caribbean to develop a fully effective and efficient regulatory regime to prevent money laundering. A fully functional Financial Intelligence Unit deals with the investigation of money laundering offenses and serves as liaison with authorities in other countries to investigate suspicious activity.
St. Kitts also has a Financial Services Commission that serves as the main regulatory body for this sector.
The removal of St. Kitts from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list of non-cooperative countries and territories in June, 2002, signaled the government's commitment to ensuring a sound regulatory framework. St. Kitts was also removed from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) list of non-cooperative countries in the fight against harmful tax practices early in 2002.
"As a relatively new international financial center, we have had the benefit of working through and observing these international initiatives," says Brisbane. "We also have the flexibility to respond to market needs and accommodate our customers' requirements."
St. Kitts' enabling legislation facilitates investment in the market, Brisbane adds. "Persons wishing to form legal entities for investment, tax planning or estate planning may easily do so here, and those wishing to apply for licenses to become service providers are assisted by our department." For more information, visit www.skbfinancialservices.com.