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2010 Investment Climate Statement - Andorra


2010 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs
March 2010
Report
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Overview of Foreign Investment Climate

Prior to 2008, Andorra had limited foreign investment opportunities mainly due to concerns about the impact of foreign firms on such a small economy. As a consequence, non-citizens were allowed to own no more than 33 percent of a company. Only after residing in the country for a minimum of 20 years were foreigners entitled to own 100 percent.

In April 2008 the Andorran government approved a new law on investment that entered into force on November 7, 2008. This new law follows the OECD requirements in order to avoid harmful fiscal practices. The framework of the new law establishes immediate access to foreign capital in certain sectors of the economy, subsequent to authorization from the Andorran Government in the event that the investment is equal to or exceeds 50% of the share capital, such as the audiovisual sector, e-commerce, aesthetic medicine and wellness, training, industrial production based on new technologies and research and development. In contrast, strategic sectors have no access to foreign capital. This law is not applicable to Andorran banking entities that are governed by specific legislation regulating the financial sector, especially the “Law regulating the basic administrative regime of Andorran banking entities” dated 30 June 1998. This law permits foreign credit institutions to invest in up to 51% of the capital of Andorra banking entities.

There are three types of companies: Limited Society (Societat Limitada), Anonymous Society (Societat Anonima) (SA), Collective Society (Societat Colectiva) (SC).

Andorran companies are under the obligation to keep and retain accounting records, prepare and sign their annual accounts and the proposed distribution of profit within six months from year end, and submit these annual accounts to audit when two of the following circumstances prevail during two consecutive years: a) total assets exceed 3,600,000 Euros; b) net sales exceed 6,000,000 Euros; c) the company has over 25 employees. Nonetheless, the audit obligation established by Law 20/2007 will not apply until the Audit Law is approved.

Conversion and Transfer Policies

The currency of Andorra is the Euro. There are no limits or restrictions provided that they correspond to a company’s official earnings records.

Expropriation and Compensation

Private investors are entitled to compensation by law. As far as can be determined, no incidents of expropriation involving the U.S. have occurred in Andorra.

Dispute Settlement

Disputes are resolved through courts in accordance with established laws.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

Andorra’s regulations are strict in terms of controlling business ownership.

The aforementioned proposed legislation calls for direct taxation of 100 percent foreign-owned companies. Bills also call for a 15 percent tax on profits but taxes may be offset by expenditures on research and development, staff training, and environmental protection. Laws also provide tax relief of 10,000 Euros per year for the employment of disabled individuals. Proposed laws require an investigation into the background of the partners founding the company to verify their professional integrity. Individuals with criminal records in any country, or who have been fired from a public position or who have been prosecuted for money laundering, tax evasion, misappropriation of public funds and property crimes will be disqualified from owning a company in Andorra.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Property rights are protected under article 27 of the Constitution. As mentioned above, laws restricting foreign ownership of domestic enterprises have been changed to allow greater foreign investment.

Protection of Property Rights

Andorra has been a member of the World International Property Organization (WIPO) since 1994. Protection of intellectual property rights, however, is weak. The country would accept business related to research of intellectual property and internet sales.

Tranparency of the Regulatory System

The government has set out transparent policies and effective laws.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Andorra adopted the Euro in 2001. Because the country does not have a currency of its own, there are no exchange or capital controls. The financial sector is modern and efficient.

The Andorran administration has no formal investment incentive schemes but may occasionally offer support for the development of tourist facilities or for development of state of the art investment.

Competition From Stated-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)

There are few State-Owned enterprises which are allowed to compete with public enterprises without restriction.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Over the years, the Andorran banking sector has been consolidating its voluntary corporate social responsibility policies. Each of the five Andorran banks have taken economic, social and environmental measures.

Political Violence

Andorra has not experienced any politically motivated destruction of property. No anti-American sentiment is evident in the country.

Corruption

Legal and financial systems are highly transparent. The Andorran revised Penal Code that came into effect in September 2005 increases penalties for corruption and money laundering and include drug-trafficking, hostage taking, sales of illegal arms, prostitution, and terrorism.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

Andorra has concluded bilateral agreements with France (2003), Spain (2003), and Portugal (2006). No agreements exist between Andorra and the U.S.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

Andorra is not a member of OPIC (U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s) neither is it a member of the MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency). As mentioned above, Andorra’s currency is the Euro.

Labor

For many years unemployment was non-existent in Andorra; rather, there was a shortage of workers. The crisis, however, has affected employment. All employees wanting to work in Andorra need work permits. Annual quotas are established for new issues of renewable work permits. Tourism is the sector with the greatest need for workers. Andorra is not a member of the ILO convention.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports

Although not a full member of the European Union (EU), Andorra is subject to all EU free trade zone regulations and arrangements with regard to industrial products. Concerning agriculture, the EU allows duty free importation of products originating in Andorra. No Free Trade zones exist in the country.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

Due to foreign investment limitations until the end of 2008 no such statistics exist in Andorra.



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