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2013 Investment Climate Statement - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


2013 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
February 2013
Report
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Openness to Foreign Investment

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, through Invest SVG, strongly encourages foreign direct investment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, particularly in industries that create jobs and earn foreign currency. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an emerging and developing investment arena. The government is pursuing investment in niche markets, particularly Tourism, International Financial Services, Agro-Processing, Light Manufacturing and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). St. Vincent benefits from a low inflation rate and growing opportunities in the trade and export sectors.

The government offers special incentive packages for foreign investments in the hotel industry and light manufacturing. There are also provisions for incentive packages on an ad hoc basis.

Tourism is the primary focus of the government with a new international airport and several resorts under construction. There has also been considerable interest in International Financial Services, Information Communication and Technology, Light Manufacturing, and Agro- Processing.

Deregulations in the Telecom industry have facilitated access to the market to new competitors wherein historically the industry was monopolized. There are currently three service providers: Cable and Wireless (Lime), Digicel, and Karib Cable.

Foreign nationals receive the same legal protections as local citizens. The police and court systems are efficient and unbiased in commercial matters, and the government operates in a generally transparent manner.

The Companies Act provides that one or more persons may incorporate a company. Completed documents in duplicate and the prescribed fee must be submitted. The documents are:

(a) articles of incorporation;
(b) a statutory declaration by an attorney-at-law declaring to the fitness of the incorporators to form the company;
(c) a notice of the names of directors of the proposed company;
(d) notice of address of the registered office of the proposed company; and
(e) request for name search and name reservation.

The articles of incorporation must be in the prescribed form and contain:

(a) the proposed name of the company;
(b) the classes and maximum number of shares that the company is authorized to issue;
(c) information relevant to any restrictions on the transfer of shares that may be applicable;
(d) the number of directors;
(e) restrictions on the type of business in which the company can engage.

Measure

Year

Index/Ranking

TI Corruption Index

2012

Ranked #36, score 62

Heritage Economic Freedom

2013

Ranked #54; Freedom Score 66.7

World Bank Doing Business

2012

#75

Conversion And Transfer Policies

Joint ventures between foreign and national investors may repatriate profits equivalent to the extent of foreign ownership. Foreign firms are allowed to repatriate dividends abroad.

Only banks do currency conversion.

Expropriation And Compensation

Under the Land Acquisition Act, the government may by a declaration initiate the acquisition of land required for a public purpose. A notice of acquisition must be served on the person from whom the land is acquired. All issues relating to payment of compensation can be submitted to a Board of Assessment whose award must be filed in the High Court. The value of the land is based on the amount for which the land would have been sold on the open market by a willing seller. Note: under the “Alien’s (Land-Holding Regulation) Act,” the government can hold properties forfeit without compensation if the terms of the investment are not met.

Dispute Settlement

St. Vincent and the Grenadines bases its legal system on the British common law system. The Constitution guarantees constitutional independence of the judiciary. The judicial system consists of lower courts, called Magistrates’ Courts, as well as a Family Court. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) Act, Cap. 18, establishes the Supreme Court of Judicature which consists of the High Court and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. The High Court hears criminal and civil matters and makes determinations on the interpretation of the Constitution. Appeals are made in the first instance to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, an itinerant court that hears appeals from all Eastern Caribbean States. Final appeal is to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the regional judicial tribunal, established in 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. The CCJ has original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers and determines appeals from Member States of CARICOM, which are parties to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is subject to the original jurisdiction of the CCJ.

All laws must conform to the provisions of the Constitution and are void to the extent of any inconsistency.

The United States and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are both parties to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO Dispute Settlement Panel and Appellate Body resolve disputes over WTO agreements, while courts of appropriate jurisdiction in both countries resolve private disputes.

The Trade Disputes (Arbitration and Inquiry) Act provides that trade disputes that exist or are pending may be reported to the Governor General by or on behalf of either party to a trade dispute. The Governor General may, if both parties consent, refer the dispute to an arbitration panel for settlement. The arbitration panel must give an award that is consistent with national employment laws. The award must be notified to the Governor General who shall, as soon as practicable, cause the award to be published.

The Governor General may institute an inquiry on his own accord where a trade dispute exists or is pending. A board of inquiry may be set up to investigate matters concerning economic or industrial conditions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that are referred to it by the Governor General. The arbitration panel or board of inquiry may permit interested persons to be represented by legal counsel. These bodies may conduct proceedings in public or private.

Performance Requirements And Incentives

There are no general performance requirements, however some investments may involving real estate may be granted with minimum investment requirements, making them subject to the aforementioned “Alien’s (Land-Holding Regulation) Act.”

There is no requirement that enterprises must purchase a fixed percentage of goods from local sources.

Companies must meet export performance requirements to take advantage of certain tax incentives. For example, "enclave enterprises" must produce goods exclusively for export outside the CARICOM region. Foreign investors may finance their investments using domestic or foreign capital sources.

There is no requirement that locals own shares of a foreign investor's enterprise.

The Fiscal Incentives Act confers income tax credits in the form of an export allowance to qualifying enterprises for the export of approved products. The exports must be to territories outside of Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia.

The Duties and Taxes (Exemption in the Public Interest) Act authorizes Cabinet to grant waivers or relief from import duties on applicable goods, as requested by individuals or organizations, if it is in the public interest to do so. Enterprises that are approved enterprises under the Fiscal Incentives Act and which import materials for processing can benefit from tax concessions for a period of ten to 15 years determined by the status granted to the enterprise.

Concessions are granted under the Hotels Aid Act in relation to improvements to a registered hotel, hotel expansions of not less than five guest rooms or apartments, hotel construction of not less than five guest rooms or apartments and tourism promotion to import printed tourism literature relating to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There are no industrial parks.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Small Business Association encourages foreign investment.

Group I enterprises (50% or more local value added) have a 15 year tax holiday period, Group II enterprises (25-49% local value added) enjoy 12 years, Group III enterprises (10-24% local value added) are granted 10 years.

Enclave enterprises (producing wholly for extra-CARICOM Markets) have a 15 year tax holiday.

An initial allowance of 10% is deductible for expenditures incurred on the construction or purchase of any building used solely for carrying on business. An annual allowance of 4% of the written down value of the building is deductible expenditures on the repair of premises, plant and machinery used in a business. An initial allowance of 20% is deductible for expenditure incurred in purchasing plant and machinery. An annual allowance ranging from 15-50 % of the written down value of plant and machinery is deductible.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have export duties.

In the tourism sector, the Hotels Aid Act provides incentives for the renovation, refurbishment and expansion of existing hotels and for the construction of new hotels. The Ministry of Tourism has responsibility for the administration of the Act. A person who intends to conduct improvements to a hotel can apply to the Minister for concessions in relation to building materials and articles of hotel equipment. Upon the grant of the concessions, the requested items may be imported free of customs duty. Concessions in respect of expansions of not less than five guest rooms may also be obtained. These concessions relate to income tax exemptions of nine to 15 years on profits attributable to the expansion and customs duty exemptions. A person who intends to construct a hotel of not less than five guestrooms, in the case of nationals of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or of CARICOM, or ten guest rooms, in the case of non-nationals, can apply for income tax exemptions ranging from ten years where the number of guest rooms is between five and twenty, 12 years where the number of guest rooms is between twenty-one and thirty-four, or 15 years where the number of guest rooms is thirty-five or more. Customs duty exemptions are also applicable to hotel constructions.

Regarding taxation, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has entered into double taxation treaties with the nations of CARICOM.

The corporate tax rate is 32.5% of net income; however, there are special rates for export companies at 35% for OECS exports, 30% for non-OECS CARICOM exports and 25% for extra-CARICOM exports. Offshore businesses are also subject to VAT (15%) on taxable imports at the time when goods are imported for home use, or in any other case, when the goods are brought into St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

An IBC may import machinery and equipment into St. Vincent and the Grenadines free from certain taxes and customs duties if they are capital goods.

The corporate tax rate ranges from 15% - 32.5%, except for companies granted tax holidays under the Fiscal Incentives Act for the duration of the tax holiday. Companies manufacturing goods for the local or export markets and which maintain a special account to the satisfaction of the Comptroller have access to reduced tax rates ranging from 15% to 30%.

A valid international trust can be created if it is in writing and follows the formal requirements for a deed or settlement under the International Trust Act. The Act recognizes several types of international trusts – protective or spendthrift trusts, charitable trusts and purpose trusts. A Registrar of Trusts has direct regulatory responsibilities relating to registration, issuing certificates and requesting documentation from the trust. An international trust can only be registered if at least one of its trustees is a registered Trustee with a valid license. In applying for registration, the registered Trustee must ensure that:

(a) The settler was solvent at the date of the creation of the trust and will continue to be solvent despite the trust’s creation or any other subsequent disposition to the trust;
(b) any transfer or disposition made to the trust is not intended to defraud the settler’s creditors; and
(c) the prescribed fees are paid.

Upon registration, the trust and its settler are given certain benefits, including exemptions from various taxes and duties, if the settler was not insolvent at the time the trust was created or became insolvent because of the creation of the trust. The exemptions include income tax, excise tax, customs duties and stamp duty exemptions and are applicable if certain conditions are fulfilled, one of which is that the trust must not be resident in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Comptroller of Inland Revenue is empowered to assess a trust’s eligibility for tax exemptions and may require from the Registered Trustee the provision of financial information. In the absence of the provision or insufficiency of the information, the trust cannot benefit from the tax exemptions.

If at least one beneficiary of a registered trust becomes resident after the trust is registered, and if the trust is in good standing, then the fact of the residency of the beneficiary does not make the trust liable to be struck off the register. However, the trust and its beneficiaries will not be entitled to tax exemptions for any year during which the trust had one or more resident beneficiaries.

An international trust, except one that is an international company, will not become void or voidable under the Act, notwithstanding the law of the settler’s domicile or ordinary residence, as a result of a settler’s bankruptcy, insolvency or liquidation.

The Shipping Act No.11 of 2004 governs maritime transport. The Act recognizes the provisions of several international conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, (UNCLOS) and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974. The Act establishes a Department of Maritime Administration responsible for the general supervision of the issues addressed by the legislation. Trade is allowed in or from the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines if ships are St Vincent and the Grenadines’ ships or have a certificate of foreign registry.

The conditions applicable to owning a St. Vincent and the Grenadines registered ship are:

(a) St. Vincent and the Grenadines nationality;
(b) residence of CARICOM citizens in a CARICOM state where the ship is engaged in international voyages;
(c) individuals or corporations owning ships hired out on bareboat charter to nationals of St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
(d) individuals or corporations in joint-venture shipping enterprise relationships with nationals of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; or
(e) a body corporate, partnership or other association of individuals registered in accordance with national laws and having its main office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Right To Private Ownership And Establishment

There is a constitutional right for nationals and non-nationals to establish and own private enterprises and private property in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These rights also pertain to the acquisition and disposition of interests in private enterprises.

Foreigners must obtain a license to purchase land or to acquire more than 50% of a company.

The Aliens’ Land Holding (Regulation) Act regulates the holding of land and mortgages related to land by individuals who are non-nationals and companies controlled by non-nationals. In order to hold land, non-nationals must apply for and be granted a license. The breach of any condition of the license authorizes the forfeiture to the government of the interest held by the non-national. License conditions may require that land be developed within a specific timeframe. The factors determining whether a company is considered to be under the control of a non-national include whether:

(a) at least half of its directors are unlicensed non-nationals;
(b) at least half of its votes are exercisable by unlicensed non-nationals;
(c) at least half of its shares are held by unlicensed non-nationals; or
(d) at least half of the nominal value of its outstanding debentures is held by unlicensed non-nationals.

Companies holding at least five acres of land may restrict or prohibit the issue or transfer of its shares or debentures to non-nationals. A license must be granted in order for non-nationals to be able to hold directorships or shares in companies. An application for a license to hold land must be made to the office of the Prime Minister through a solicitor who is licensed to practice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The applicant is required to submit a police certificate, a banker’s reference, and a description of title with categorization of either (1) one acre of land or less or (2) more than one acre of land. In relation to category 1, an approved development plan, confirmation of execution of the plan within 18 months from construction date and proof of completion of conveyance within six months must be supplied. In relation to category 2, a development plan for the entire area, physical and architectural aspects, and details on financing and the labor to be employed must be provided. Four copies of the application and a fee of Eastern Caribbean (XCD) $2,500.00 must be submitted.

If approved, a license is granted which must be filed at the Registry of the High Court. All applicable registration fees and stamp duties must be paid to the Registry.

No industries are officially closed to private enterprise, although the government reserves the right not to allow certain investments. Some activities, such as telecommunications, utilities, broadcasting, banking, and insurance, require a license from the government. There is no percentage, or other restrictions, on foreign ownership of a local enterprise or participation in a joint venture.

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a partial owner, along with the governments of Antigua and Barbados, of LIAT Airlines, a regional carrier. The Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was privatized in 2010.

Protection Of Property Rights

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Government is a signatory to the Paris Convention on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and is a member of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Article 45 of the Protocol Amending the Treaty that established CARICOM commits all 15 members to implement stronger IP protection and enforcement.

The Copyright Act provides that copyright protection subsists in the following types of works:

(a) Original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,

(b) sound recordings, films, broad casts or cable programs; and

(c) typographical arrangements of published editions.

Works do not need to be registered in order to be protected by copyright. Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works of known authorship are protected for the remainder of the life of the author after creation of the work plus 75 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. Computer generated works are protected for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work is made. Sound recordings and films are protected for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the recording or film was made or 75 years from the year in which it was made available to the public. Typographical arrangements of published editions are protected for 25 years from first publication.

The Trade Marks Act provides that trademarks include letter, word, name, signature, numeral, device, brand, heading, label, ticket, aspect of packaging, shape, color or sound or any combination thereof.

The term of protection for a trademark is ten years from the filing date. A trademark can be renewed. Application for renewal must be lodged within 12 months. A renewal of a trademark is effective for ten years.

The Patents Act provides that a patent may be granted only for an invention that is new, involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application. The following are excluded from patent protection:

(a) a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method;

(b) a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation;

(c) a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business;

(d) diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals;

(e) the presentation of information;

(f) an invention, the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to public order or morality;

(g) an invention which is prejudicial to human, animal or plant life, to health or to the environment; or

(h) any plant or animal variety or any biological process for the generation of plant or animals, not being a microbiological process or the product of such a process.

An application to register a patent must contain a request for the grant of the patent, a description of the invention, one or more claims, one or more drawings where required, an abstract, and a statement justifying the right to be granted the patent.

The term of protection for a patent is 20 years without possibility for extension.

IPR infringement in most areas is small-scale, although video stores sell and rent pirated DVDs and videos, and other stores and individuals sell illegal copies of computer software, designer items, and music.

Transparency Of Regulatory System

St. Vincent and the Grenadines uses transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition and establish clear rules for foreign and domestic investors in the areas of tax, labor, environment, health, and safety.

The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas provides the competition policy applicable to CARICOM States. Member States are required to establish and maintain a national competition authority for facilitating the implementation of the rules of competition. At the CARICOM level, a regional Competition Commission is established to apply the rules of competition in respect of anti-competitive cross-border business conduct. The CARICOM competition policy addresses anti-competitive business conduct, such as agreements between enterprises, decisions by associations of enterprises, and concerted practices by enterprises that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Community; and actions by which an enterprise abuses its dominant position within the Community. No legislation is yet in operation to regulate competition generally. However, sectoral regulation of competition in the telecommunications field is provided for under the Telecommunications Act.

The Employment of Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens Act provides that foreign nationals or Commonwealth citizens must obtain a valid work permit in order to be employed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Work permit applications must be addressed to the Ministry responsible for national security. Work permits may be varied or cancelled after a seven-day notice period if the holder fails to comply with or contravenes the conditions under which the permit is granted.

Persons requiring work permits must submit the following documents along with a completed work permit application form; other supporting documentation may also be required: (1) Letter from prospective employer; (2) Certified copy of passport (information page/s); (3) Proof that the position applied for has been advertised.

A work permit is issued for six months only. An applicant requesting more that a six months work permit is required to apply for a residence permit.

Fees CARICOM Nationals XCD$600.00 per annum Others XCD$1,500.00 per annum

Ministry of Tourism and Industry is the primary ministry dealing with foreign investment.

An external company that wishes to carry on business in St. Vincent and the Grenadines must first be registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Registration is affected by filing:

(a) a statement containing, among other things, the company’s name, the jurisdiction within which the company was incorporated, the date of its incorporation, the manner in which it was incorporated, details of its corporate instrument, the business that the company will conduct, the stated capital, addresses of its head office, and names of directors;

(b) a statutory declaration by a director verifying the contents of the statement;

(c) a copy of the corporate instruments of the company;

(d) a statutory declaration by an attorney-at-law declaring compliance with the provisions of the law;

(e) a power of attorney empowering a resident of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to act as the company’s attorney for receiving documents.

Companies using or manufacturing chemicals must obtain approval of their environmental and health practices from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Standards Institution and the Ministry of Health's Environmental Division.

Foreigners must obtain an alien land holding license to purchase real estate.

Efficient Capital Markets And Portfolio Investment

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has neither a stock exchange nor a central bank, instead using the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) that controls the currencies of several island states including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). It’s monetary and exchange rate policies are determined by the ECCB, an organ of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The ECCB regulates domestic banks. Exchange controls restrictions on capital and non-trade current transactions have been suspended under the Exchange Control Act.

The Financial Intelligence Unit Act, No.38 of 2001, established the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as the centralized entity responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about suspicious financial transactions to competent authorities. Financial institutions and persons engaged in business activities must retain records relating to financial activity conducted through them and must inform the FIU of complex or unusual transactions. These requirements are imposed by the Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, No. 39 of 2001.

The Financial Service Authority Act was passed in November 2012. This Act established the Financial Services Authority which is responsible for the regulation of the international financial services sector and non-banking financial institutions including credit unions, insurances, and money transfer service providers.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines domestic financial sector consists of the following banks and credit unions:

  • Bank of Nova Scotia
  • First Caribbean International Bank LTD
  • Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines RBTT Bank Caribbean LTD
  • The East Caribbean Central Bank
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines Co-op Credit Union
  • Automotive Co-operative Society LTD
  • Barrouallie Co-op Credit Union LTD
  • General Employees Credit Union
  • Kingstown Co-op Credit Union
  • Marriaqua Co-Op Credit Union
  • National Farmers Union Co-op
  • South Rivers Co-op Credit Union
  • St. Vincent Union of Teachers
  • Unity Labour Party Co-op Credit Union

According to the most recent data available from the government, assets of commercial banks totaled US$633 million in October 2010, and remained relatively consistent throughout the year. The reserve requirement for commercial banks was 6% of deposit liabilities.

There are no securities exchanges in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Political Violence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not experienced political violence in recent history.

Corruption

Corruption is not a major problem in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; however, while the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, enforcement is not always effective.

Bilateral And Multilateral Agreements

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

The Treaty of Chaguaramas established CARICOM in 1973. Its purpose is to promote economic integration among its 15 Member States. Investors operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are given preferential access to the entire CARICOM market. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas goes further to establish the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), by permitting the free movement of goods, capital and labor within CARICOM States. This Treaty allows St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be the recipient of several benefits by being party to bi-lateral trade agreements with Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

The Treaty of Basseterre establishes the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The OECS consists of nine Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with associate members being Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. The purpose of the Treaty is to promote harmonization among Member States in areas concerning foreign policy, defense and security, and economic affairs. The six independent countries of the OECS ratified the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union on January 21, 2011. The Economic Union established a single financial and economic space within which all factors of production, including goods, services and people, move without hindrance.

Intellectual Property

Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (1970), acceded in 1995; Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Text (1967), acceded in 1995; Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Paris Text (1971), acceded in 1995; and Patent Cooperation Treaty (1970), acceded in 2002.

Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was concluded between the CARIFORUM States and the European Community and its Member States. The EPA is designed to replace the now expired transitional trade regime of the Cotonou Agreement. The overarching objectives of the EPA are to alleviate poverty in CARIFORUM, to promote regional integration and economic cooperation and to foster the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy by improving their trade capacity and creating an investment-conducive environment. The Agreement promotes trade related developments in areas such as competition, intellectual property, and public procurement, the environment and protection of personal data.

Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)

The objective of the Caribbean Basin Initiative is to promote economic development through private sector initiative in Central America and the Caribbean islands by expanding foreign and domestic investment in non-traditional sectors, diversifying CBI country economies and expanding their exports. It permits duty free entry of products manufactured or assembled in St. Vincent and the Grenadines into markets of the United States

Caribbean / Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN)

CARIBCAN is an economic and trade development assistance program for Commonwealth Caribbean countries in which Canada provides duty free access to its national market for the majority of products which originate in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Germany

The Republic of Germany and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have signed a treaty for the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment. Its purpose is to promote favorable investment conditions in each territory

OPIC And Other Investment Insurance Programs

In 1999, the U.S. Government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) signed with Citibank to establish a US$200 million Investment Facility for the Caribbean and Central America, as one means of encouraging investment and stimulating economic development. The Caribbean Development Bank, which is based in Barbados, administers this program. OPIC provides financing and political risk insurance to viable private sector projects, helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, and fosters economic development in new and emerging markets.

Additionally, in 2004, OPIC approved an additional investment guaranty of up to US$100 million to Citibank to establish a lending facility that will enable Citibank to expand its activity in Central America and the Caribbean, including lending to small businesses. Under this facility, Citibank and OPIC share credit risk in loans, and OPIC provides clearances on workers’ rights and environmental issues for each downstream loan.

Labor

According to the most recent data available from the government, in 2010, St. Vincent and the Grenadines' labor force was approximately 63000 or 52% of the population. The estimated workforce (excluding employers and managers) is 49,000 or 40% of the population.

It is distributed in the following sectors:

  • Government 27%
  • Construction 14%
  • Commerce 13%
  • Agriculture 12%
  • Transport, storage, and communications 7%
  • Hotels/restaurants 6%
  • Manufacturing 5%
  • Real Estate 5%
  • Other 11%

The Wages Council Act establishes, through the Wages Council, minimum wages, hours of work, overtime, vacation, sick leave and maternity leave for specified categories of workers. Employers who fail to pay minimum wages are subject to fines and orders for payment of the wages.

The statutory minimum wages are set out in Regulations made under the Wages Council Act. The prescribed rates vary according to the type of industry and the nature of the job performed by the worker. The following represent a sample of minimum wages in certain industries:

  • Agricultural workers: XCD$4.00 to $7.00 per hour
  • Domestic workers: XCD$400.00 to $500.00 per month
  • Hotel workers: XCD$450.00 to $1100.00 per month
  • Industrial workers: XCD$5.00 per hour
  • Security guards: XCD$3.75 per hour
  • Shop assistants: XCD$2.60 to $3.75 per hour
  • Workers in offices of professionals: XCD$500.00 to $800.00 per month

The hours of work for specified categories of workers are usually eight hours per day with overtime generally calculated at a rate of time and a half and double for work done in excess of minimum hours of work and on public holidays, respectively.

The Equal Pay Act makes provision for the removal and prevention of discrimination, based on the sex of the employee, in the rates or remuneration for males and females in paid employment.

Trade unions, and the leaders of the trade union movement, enjoy a strong voice in the labor and economic affairs of the country. There are three main unions, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Public Service Union (PSU), the National Workers' Movement (NWM) and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union. Trade unions are granted legal recognition by the Trade Unions Act; therefore, the act of joining a trade union is not subject to criminal or civil sanctions. Trade unions must be registered with the Registrar of Trade Unions. Registration requirements include membership of at least seven persons. A 30% membership is required for a trade union ballot. If 50% plus 1 vote is cast by workers in favor of a trade union, then that union is usually recognized by the particular establishment for collective bargaining purposes. The law provides that it is lawful to conduct peaceful picketing in contemplation of a trade dispute.

The law provides for a minimum working age of 16, and this provision generally was observed in practice. Compulsory primary and secondary education policies reinforced minimum age requirements. The Labor Department had a small cadre of labor inspectors who conducted spot investigations of enterprises and checked records to verify compliance with the law. These inspectors may take legal action against an employer who is found to have underage workers.

The Factories Act provides for the regulation of the conditions of employment in factories and other places as regards the health, safety and welfare of employees. It also provides for the safety and inspection of certain plant and machinery.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Trade Zones

There are no foreign trade zones or free trade zones in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

According to the 2011 World Investment Report published by theUnited Nations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines had US$97 million in FDI inflows in 2009, US$103 million in 2010 and US$135 million in 2011.

Major U.S. Investors

Major investors include: American Airlines/American Eagle, Chevron Texaco, Federal Express, Met Life, Western Union. Franchises of U.S. companies: Ace Hardware, Church’s Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Subway.

An American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) does not operate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

For further information, please contact the Economic/Commercial Section at the U.S. Embassy.

Greg Floyd
Commercial Officer
U.S. Embassy, Bridgetown, Barbados
Tel: 246-277-4274
FloydGA@state.gov

Jonelle M. Watson
Commercial Assistant
U.S. Embassy Bridgetown, Barbados
Tel: 246-277-4052
watsonjm@state.gov

Contacts For Investment Related Inquiries

The following are contacts for investment related inquiries:

Invest St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Tel: (784) 457 2159
Fax: (784) 456 2688

Additional web resources include:

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
www.investsvg.com

UNITED STATES

Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce:
http://www.buyusa.gov/caribbean/en/ and http://www.export.gov/index.asp

Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture:
http://www.fas.usda.gov/ and http://www.export.gov/fas/fas.asp?pName=mr



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