The Government of Suriname (GOS) officially supports and encourages business development through local and foreign investment. The overall investment climate favors U.S. investors with experience working in developing countries. To attract FDI, the authorities plan to update the institutional and legal framework to protect investors and eliminate restrictions regarding investment income transfers and control related FDI flows. In cooperation with the World Bank, the GOS is working to update the investment policy framework.
The economic outlook remains challenging. The government receives significantly less revenue due to a decline of international commodity prices of gold and oil, as well as the cessation of alumina mining. After 99 years of activity, U.S. alumina giant ALCOA closed its operations in Suriname. Not only were public sector revenues affected, but exports, international reserves, employment, and private sector investment activities were also impacted. Suriname’s May 2016 International Monetary Fund Stand-By Arrangement remains stalled due to a lack of progress on policy items. Following the disbursement of the first tranche of SBA funds in 2016, no reviews have taken place.
The U.S multinational mining company Newmont began operations in October, 2016. This extractive entity is expected to boost economic activity by increasing revenue, exports, and engagement with the local community. Though historically the mining sector has attracted significant investment, there are numerous factors that negatively impact Suriname’s investment climate as a whole. These factors include an unclear process for awarding public tenders, corruption, institutional capacity constraints, and a lack of overall transparency.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Suriname’s Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) by two notches from ‘B+’ to ‘B-’ in February 2017 and stated the rating outlook remains negative. In addition, Standard and Poor’s lowered Suriname Sovereign Credit Rating from ‘B+’ to ‘B’ in April 2017 and stated that Suriname’s credit outlook remains negative.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2016||64 of 175||http://www.transparency.org/
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”||2016||159 of 190||doingbusiness.org/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2016||N/A||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2015||N/A||http://www.bea.gov/
|World Bank GNI per capita||2015||USD 9,360||http://data.worldbank.org/
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment
The GOS supports and encourages both foreign direct and local investment. The U.S. multinational company, Newmont, invested nearly one billion USD in the construction of a gold mine that became operational last year. Investment opportunities also exist in the mining and agricultural sector.
With the exception of petroleum, Suriname has no sector-specific laws or practices that discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors, by prohibiting, limiting, or conditioning foreign investment. Within the petroleum sector, the state oil company, Staatsolie, maintains sole ownership of all oil-related activities. Foreign investment in this sector is possible through product sharing agreements with Staatsolie. Staatsolie executes oil exploration agreements with foreign firms through a fair and competitive bidding process.
The Investment Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS) facilitates foreign investment and states that it provides services to all sectors. IDCS provides information regarding the investment climate, as well as offering guidance and advice to investors.
Suriname prioritizes investment and ongoing dialogue with investors. The IDCS functions as an investment promotion agency. The GOS focuses on developing the mining, eco-tourism, and agribusiness sectors; however, there is no specific public program aimed at attracting foreign investors. Notably, the GOS does have a National Master Plan for Agricultural Development and the IDCS is said to advertise its services in overseas newspapers and magazines.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Foreign and domestic private entities can establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity.
There are no de facto or de jure limits on foreign ownership or control. No law requires that domestic nationals own a minimum percentage of domestic companies or that foreign nationals hold seats on the board. No law caps or reduces the percentage of foreign ownership of any private business enterprise.
Except for petroleum, there are no sector-specific restrictions that create challenges for market access to U.S. and other foreign investors. Within the petroleum sector, the law limits ownership to Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, which maintains sole ownership of all petroleum-related activities. Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) countries do enjoy favored status over other sources of foreign investment, but in practice international firms from beyond the CSME are not denied investment opportunities. An Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union aims to provide European companies better access to Suriname.
Government ministries screen inbound foreign investments intended for the sector of the economy that they oversee. Special commissions screen all necessary legal and financial documents. Screening criteria vary, but are intended to determine a proposed investment’s compliance with local law. However, the screening process is neither public nor transparent, and therefore could be considered a barrier to investment.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The conducted an investment policy review of Suriname in 2013. The OECD and UNTAD have not conducted trade policy reviews of Suriname in the past three years. The Inter-American Development Bank has published a report called .
The GOS has taken steps to improve business facilitation efforts. Legislation has been drafted on competition policy, limited liability company formation, electronic gazettes to reduce company
startup costs, intellectual property, consumer protection, electronic transactions, and establishing a secured transaction framework. The authorities also plan to implement procedural reforms to streamline cross-border trade.
As there is no online registration system, registering a business in Suriname takes approximately 30 days. Companies must register with the Chamber of Commerce, which provides guidance on registration procedures. At the time of registration, the company needs a local notary’s assent to ratify the company bylaws. For non-residents, the notary also sends a request to the foreign exchange commission for approval. Applicants must obtain a tax number at the registration office of the tax department. Applications then go to the Ministry of Justice and Police and finally to the President for approval.
The GOS does not have an investment promotion agency to encourage outward investment.
The GOS does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. Due to the small size of the local market, some domestic companies began expanding a few years ago to CARICOM member states such as Guyana and Trinidad. There are no specific mechanisms in place to promote or restrict investing abroad. As such, companies have begun investing abroad on their own initiative.
2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
Suriname has signed bilateral investment protection agreements with Indonesia, Cuba, and the Netherlands.
Suriname has not signed a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S. The GOS has signed tax treaties with the Netherlands and Indonesia.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Suriname does not use transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition. The National Assembly has delayed its vote on a draft competition law. The Competitiveness Unit Suriname coordinates and monitors national competitiveness and is working towards establishing policies and suggesting proper legislation to foster competition. Current legislation such as tax, environment, health and safety, or other laws are not purposely used to impede investment, but may still form obstacles. Employment protection legislation is among the most stringent in the world. Labor laws, for instance, prohibit employers from firing an employee without the permission of the Ministry of Labor once the employee has fulfilled his or her probationary period, which by law is limited to two months. Tax laws are criticized for overburdening the formal business sector, while a large informal sector goes untaxed. The government continues to postpone the implementation of a value-added tax (VAT). The IMF instructed the government, under its economic reform program, to implement the value-added tax by 2018.
Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are outdated and therefore not transparent and consistent with international norms. There is no overarching accounting and auditing legislation to set a national accounting standard, regulate the accountancy profession, or enforce requirements on financial reporting. Currently, there is neither a requirement for specific accounting standards nor a requirement for auditing unless specifically mentioned in the Articles of Association of the company. Most financial statements prepared in Suriname are based on The Netherlands Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (NL GAAP). However, Suriname’s major domestic corporations and multinational companies operating in Suriname often apply their own standards. Some larger firms use one of the resident international firms such as Deloitte Consulting or BDO international Ltd for their accounting needs.
There are no informal regulatory processes managed by non-governmental organizations or private sector associations.
Rule-making takes place on a national level (ministries) in consultation with relevant stake holders. After consultation, the government presents draft laws and regulations to the Council of Ministers for discussion and approval. Once approved at this level, the president’s advisory body, the State Council, considers the draft. If approved, the government presents a draft to the National Assembly for discussion, amendment, and approval.
Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are outdated and therefore not consistent with international norms. There are no accounting standards in place for publicly listed companies.
Draft bills or regulations are discussed with relevant stake holders, but are not made available for public comment.
The National Assembly publishes the actual text of approved legislation on its website.
The Auditor General’s office is an independent body in charge of supervising the financial management of government funds. The Auditor General’s Office reports to the National Assembly. The Central Accountant Service exercises control on administrative processes at the ministries and reports to the Ministry of Finance.
There is no centralized online location similar to the Federal Register in the U.S. where key regulatory actions are published.
The Tax Department announced that it is in the process of implementing an automated Standard Integrated Government Tax Administration System. The Ministry of Trade announced legislation to improve the ease of doing business via the introduction of new laws and programs, including an electronic trade law and online registration of liens.
The general implication of these reforms will be an overall increased ease of doing business due to heightened transparency and fewer hurdles to registering domestic or foreign enterprises.
Regulations are developed by ministries that have jurisdiction over the relevant area, in consultation with involved stakeholders.
It is unclear what the regulatory enforcement mechanisms are, as the process has not been made accountable to the public.
Regulation is not reviewed on the basis of scientific or data-driven assessments.
International Regulatory Considerations
Suriname is a member of CARICOM and therefore is committed to regionally-coordinated regulatory systems.
Suriname uses national and international standards. Standards developed by other (international/regional) standardization bodies that Suriname utilizes include: ISO, Codex Alimentarius, International Electro Technical Commission, CROSQ, ASTM International, COPANT, SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries), NEN (Nederland Normalisatie Instituut), ETSI, GLOBAL GAP, etc.
Suriname is a member of the WTO and notifies draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Suriname’s legal system is based on the Dutch Civil system. Judges uphold the sanctity of contracts, and enforce them in accordance with their terms. When an individual or company disputes a signed contract, they have the right to take the case to court. The judiciary consistently upholds local law, applies it, and enforces it for local and international businesses.
Laws are defined in criminal, civil, and commercial codes and verdicts are based on the judge’s interpretation of those codes. There is no specialized commercial court or civil court. The commercial codes contain commercial legislation.
Generally, the judicial system is considered to be independent of the executive branch. With the exception of the December Murders Trial (related to political murders committed in 1982), most observers consider the judicial system to be procedurally competent, fair, reliable, and free of overt government interference.
Draft regulations are reviewed by involved stakeholders, and they can comment on amendments for inclusion before the draft regulation is passed to the National Assembly for approval. Since Suriname has no general administrative law, there are no special administrative tribunals. Judges of the regular courts also hear cases of administrative law.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The National Assembly approved the amendment of the commercial code chapter regarding the establishment of a limited liability company. Parameters addressing enforcement are forthcoming.
There is no primary “one-stop-shop” website for investment that provides relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
Currently, there are no domestic agencies reviewing transactions for competition-related concerns. There is a draft competition bill pending review by the National Assembly. The CARICOM competition commission is based in Suriname, and it monitors potential anti-competitive practices for enterprises operating within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
Expropriation and Compensation
According to Article 34 of Suriname’s constitution, expropriation will take place “only for reasons of public utility” and with prior compensation. In practice, the government has no history of expropriations. However, Article 42 of Suriname’s constitution specifically refers to all natural resources as property of the nation, and states that the nation has inalienable rights to take possession of all natural resources to utilize them for the economic, social, and cultural development of Suriname.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Suriname is not a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States (ICSID). Suriname has been a member of the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards since 1964, when the country was still a colony of the Netherlands. Upon becoming independent in 1975, Suriname automatically continued its membership in international conventions and treaties.
There is no specific domestic legislation providing enforcement of awards under the 1958 New York Convention and /or under the ICSID convention.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The government is signatory to Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
Suriname has no Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with an investment chapter with the United States.
There have been no publicly known investment disputes in the past 10 years involving a U.S person or other foreign investor. Every effort is made to settle investment disputes outside the court system or via arbitration.
Judgments of foreign arbitral awards are enforced by the local courts only if Suriname has a legal treaty of jurisprudence with the foreign country involved. If not, the foreign judgment can be brought before the Surinamese court for consideration as long as the court determines it has jurisdiction and doing so does not otherwise violate any Surinamese laws. With Suriname’s participation and membership in the Caribbean Court of Justice, judgments from this court are also binding for local courts. Cases have been successfully filed against Suriname before the Inter-American Court of Justice and the Organization of American States. Judgments from these courts have been upheld by the Surinamese legal system.
There is no known history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
Suriname’s civil law includes options for arbitration. The government reactivated the Suriname Arbitration Institute (SAI) in August 2014 to offer arbitration and mediation services.
The SAI legislation is based on civil law, which includes options for arbitration. Furthermore, the SAI collaborates with the Dutch Arbitration Institute.
Local courts only recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards if doing so is stipulated in the contract or agreement and it does not contradict local law. Foreign arbitration is an accepted means of settling disputes between private parties, but only if local alternatives are exhausted.
There have been no publicly known investment disputes in which SOEs are involved. Court processes are in general considered transparent and not discriminatory.
Suriname has bankruptcy legislation. Creditors, equity shareholders, and holders of other financial contracts, including foreign contract holders, have the right to file for liquidation of the debtors due to insolvency. In a case where there is a loan from a commercial bank, repayment of the bank loan takes precedence. Bankruptcy in principle is not criminalized. However, in cases where a board of directors encouraged a company to pursue bankruptcy to avoid creditors, courts have viewed these as a criminal offence. In the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Suriname stands at 128 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of resolving insolvency.
4. Industrial Policies
Under current regulations, foreign investors can benefit from both tax and non-tax based incentives. Tax-based incentives include a nine-year tax holiday that can be extended by one year if the investment is at least USD 13 million; accelerated depreciation of assets; and tax consolidation. Under the Raw Minerals Act, the government grants an exemption of duties for the import of raw materials from CARICOM member countries. Exemptions are also granted in the food industry, the soft drink industry, and the fruit juice industry. In 2011, the government eliminated import duties on computers and related items. The law accords special consideration on investments exceeding USD 50 million and investments in the exploration and exploitation of bauxite, hydrocarbons, gold, and radioactive minerals. Large investments in the mining sector are subject to extensive negotiations between the government and investors. The government maintains the ability to grant incentives that depart from the provisions in the investment law, for example, incentives related to the provisions of infrastructure.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
There are no duty-free import zones in Suriname.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
There are no policies that mandate hiring local employment; however, the Work Permits Act prohibits employers from employing foreigners without a work permit granted by the Ministry of Labor.
There are no policies requiring that senior management and board of directors should be Surinamese nationals.
There are no excessively onerous visa, residence, or work permit requirements inhibiting foreign investors’ mobility. Foreigners who want to work in Suriname first need to apply for a residency permit at the Ministry of Justice and Police, after which they can apply for a work permit at the Ministry of Labor. The free movement of artists, university graduates, media workers, musicians, and athletes of CARICOM origin is arranged through CSME regulations. CSME regulations also provide for the free movement for those seeking to establish or conduct business within the community.
There are no government/authority-imposed conditions on permission to invest.
The GOS does not impose forced localization policies on foreign investors.
There are no enforcement procedures for performance requirements on investors.
The 2001 Investment Law authorizes the Minister of Finance to grant both tax and non-tax incentives for new investments and for the expansion of existing investments. Incentives for new investments are on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Ministry of Finance. Incentives are available for both domestic and foreign investors, but investors must apply for these incentives before the initial investment is made.
Foreign IT providers are not required to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption.
There are no measures that prevent or unduly impede companies from freely transmitting customer or other business-related data outside the country’s territory.
There are no mechanisms used to enforce any rules on local data storage within the country.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Interest in property is enforced. Mortgages and liens are common. Mortgages are registered with the Mortgage Office.
Non-residents can request to lease land from the government if they have established a company under Surinamese law. However, the process from application to approval is lengthy.
The percentage of land in Suriname that lacks a clear land title remains unknown. There is no sustained effort by the government to identify property owners and register land titles, nor is there a publicly-accessible land title office. Article 1-1 of the L-1 decree, Principles of Land Policy, states that “all land, to which others have not proven their right to ownership, is domain of the State.” Furthermore, Article 41 of the Surinamese constitution states that wealth and resources are property of the nation and shall be used to promote economic, social, and cultural development.
Unoccupied, legally-purchased property cannot be reverted to other owners, such as squatters.
Intellectual Property Rights
Suriname is a member of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Right Organization; however, it has not ratified the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Even though Suriname is party to multiple agreements, IPR protections are not enforced. The current legal framework mentions protection of copyright, trademarks, and patents; however, that legislation dates back to 1912 (amended in 2001). Although the National Assembly passed amendments to the Music Copyright Law of 1913 in March 2015, enforcement remains non-existent. Infringement on rights and theft are not uncommon, due to the absence of enforcement.
No IPR-related laws or regulations have been enacted in the past year. A draft IPR bill is pending. In the draft IPR law, legislation regarding patents, trademarks, copyrights, and protection of innovations based on geographical indications will be included. Currently, patents and copyrights must be registered abroad since proper legislation does not exist.
Suriname does not track or report on seizures of counterfeit goods. IPR violations are prosecuted if cases are brought to court.
Suriname is not mentioned in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 report for 2016. Nor is it listed in the notorious market report.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
The government does not promote portfolio investment.
There is a small self-regulating stock market with eleven companies registered. It meets twice a month but does not have an electronic exchange. There is no effective regulatory system to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment. At present, Suriname is facing liquidity shortfalls.
Until now, the Central Bank has not restricted foreign currency from entering the market for investment or exiting for repatriation. Sufficient policies do exist to facilitate the free flow of financial resources.
As an IMF Article VIII member, Suriname has agreed to refrain from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.
Credit is allocated on market terms and at market rates. Foreign investors that establish businesses in Suriname are able to get credit on the local market, usually with a payment guarantee from the parent company. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Larger companies can obtain customized credit products. There is, however, a Central Bank regulation that limits a commercial bank’s credit exposure to a single client.
Money and Banking System
The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Larger companies can obtain customized credit products.
According to IMF findings, the banking sector is broadly resilient to currency depreciation, but a number of individual banks are vulnerable. The Central Bank is in charge of overseeing commercial banks and other financial institutions.
The estimated total assets of the Suriname’s largest banks is as follows:
- DSB bank (June 30, 2016): USD 967.7 million
- Hakrin bank (Nov. 4, 2016): USD 423.9 million
- Republic Bank Limited (2016 annual report): USD 10 billion. (The Republic Bank Limited of Trinidad and Tobago acquired Royal Bank of Canada Suriname’s holdings in 2015. The Republic Bank holdings include assets of local and international holdings.)
Foreign banks are allowed to establish operations in Suriname. According to the IMF, banks in Suriname are among those in the region that have lost their correspondent relationships. IMF notes that though the loss of correspondent banking relationships has not reached systemic proportions, a critical risk still exists. The Central Bank admits that compliance regarding legislation and procedures is lacking and that strengthening of enforcement is needed.
There are no restrictions for foreigners to open a bank account. Banks require U.S. citizens to provide the information necessary to comply with the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors in converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment, such as remittances of investment capital, earnings, loan or lease payments, or royalties.
Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into a usable currency at legal market clearing rates with the permission of the Foreign Exchange Commission. However, the criteria for obtaining permissions are opaque. The exchange rate is determined by commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaus directly with their customers. The national currency rate fluctuates. A parallel black market rate also exists.
There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies. The waiting period on remittances can be relatively short for dividends; return on investments, interest, and principal on private foreign debt; lease payments; royalties; and management fees. The time needed to process the requests depends on the sector and the amount transferred. Transfers through the banking system can range from same day to one week waiting times, contingent upon approval by the Foreign Exchange Commission.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
On May 4, 2017, the National Assembly passed legislation establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). The SWF is expected to begin accumulating mining sector revenues in 2019.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
SOEs operate in the agribusiness, mining communication, travel, energy, and financial sectors. SOEs provide little information regarding their operations. Only a few are producing annual reports accessible to the public. Several have been discredited because of fraud and corrupt practices
The Investment Development Corporation possesses a list of SOEs that conduct commercial activities; however, there is no list of SOEs provided on their website.
SOEs receive advantages when competing in the domestic market. These include access to government guarantees and government loans otherwise unavailable to private enterprises. Additionally, SOEs have access to land and raw materials inaccessible to private entities. The government does not yet adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.
The GOS has identified privatization programs largely in the agricultural sector. No timeline is given for privatizations. Foreign investors can participate in privatization programs. In 2014, the Belgium multinational UNIVEG acquired a 90 percent stake in the state-owned banana company through a public, international bidding process.
The privatization of the banana company was conducted through an international public bidding process with the assistance of the European Commission. As this is the only successful example of privatization within Suriname, no standard privatization or public bidding processes have been established by the GOS.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
There is a growing awareness of expectations of standards for responsible business conduct among consumers and producers. Historically, ALCOA’s subsidiary Suralco took the lead on RBC in Suriname. Other companies soon followed suit. Locally-owned companies that model RBC are Staatsolie, Surinam Airways, Telesur, and the Fernandes Group of Companies (which includes the Coca-Cola bottling plant and the McDonalds restaurant chain).
The government has not taken measures to encourage RBC, such as promoting the OECD or United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Companies are allowed to develop their own policies and standards. The government realizes the benefits of RBC and incorporates it in some of its partnerships and agreements. For example, recent agreements between Staatsolie and foreign companies for offshore drilling include stipulations regarding RBC. The government has not yet formulated a definition for RBC nor has it established policies to promote or encourage it. The government has no national point of contact or ombudsman for stakeholders to acquire information or raise concerns about RBC. The GOS has not conducted a National Action Plan on RBC and/or Business and Human Rights. It is not known if RBC policies are part of the government’s procurement decisions. There have been no high profile controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights.
The Labor Inspection Department from the Ministry of Labor supervises and enforces the observance of legal regulations regarding the conditions of employment and the protection of employees performing duties. The government is drafting consumer and environmental protection laws.
Currently there is no legislation for corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders.
Suriname Trade and Business Association has taken the lead in promoting RBC. So far no incidents have been reported indicating that those monitoring and or advocating around RBC cannot work freely.
The host government does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.
Suriname has started the process of becoming a candidate country for accession to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), officially submitting its full application on March 24, 2017. There are no domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments and/or other RBC/BHR policies or practices.
Suriname has a significant corruption problem. Although the existing legal code penalizes corruption, there is virtually no enforcement. Government officials are occasionally accused of corruption and removed from their current assignment, but none have been convicted in the last six years. A draft corruption law is currently being discussed in parliament.
Existing laws that deal with corruption do not extend to family members of officials, or to political parties. There are no laws or regulations to counter conflict-of–interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.
The government does not encourage or require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct prohibiting bribery of public officials. Private companies do not use internal control, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.
Suriname has signed and ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. Suriname has not yet signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. Suriname is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.
U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, the award of licenses, concessions, customs, and taxation. There are no NGOs involved in investigating corruption.
Resources to Report Corruption
Suriname Police Force (Korps Politie Suriname)
Havenlaan, Paramaribo, Suriname
10. Political and Security Environment
Since its adoption of the current, democratically-elected government in 1987, Suriname has not seen politically motivated violence or civil disturbance. There is no history of damage to projects or installations in the past ten years. Suriname is increasingly politicized, however elections are considered to be free and fair.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
In general, both skilled and unskilled labor is available in the local market. The sectors most prone to labor shortages are the agricultural, construction, medical, and service sectors. A recent influx of Haitians and French Guyanese seeking jobs on the local market has forced the government to re-introduce a visa for these CARICOM nationals. Haitians fill the shortage of laborers in the agricultural sector, which Surinamers avoid because of its hard labor and low wages. Current levels of unemployment are somewhat difficult to determine because many individuals find employment in the large informal sector. According to World Bank figures, the youth unemployment rate in 2015 was approximately 22.5 percent.
Heavy equipment operators and repairmen in the extractive industries are in high demand. The service sector lacks certified accountants. In recent years Suriname recruited physicians and ER nurses from the Philippines to work in hospital emergency rooms. Because of the current economic downturn, the majority of these workers have left the country.
There are no policies that require the hiring of nationals; however, the Work Permits Act prohibits employers from employing foreigners without a work permit granted by the Ministry of Labor.
Legislation makes it difficult for employers to respond to fluctuating market conditions. The Dismissal Permits Act prohibits employers from dismissing employees without permission from the Ministry of Labor. Collective redundancy for organizational or economic reasons is permitted in cases such as the closure or decline of a business. Generally, when an employee is laid off, unions negotiate with the employer regarding a package and duration of social benefits.
Labor laws are not waived to attract or retain investment. As Suriname has no special economic zones, foreign trade zones, or free ports with alternative labor policies, all entities are subject to existing legislation.
Collective bargaining agreements are wide-spread in Suriname. Sector level collective bargaining is unknown in Suriname. Collective bargaining takes place in both the private and public sector. Data regarding the percentage of the economy covered by collective bargaining agreements was unavailable.
Labor dispute mechanisms are in place and freely used for mediation and arbitration.
No strike took place last year that posed an investment risk.
The International Labor Organization has approached the government to develop a more effective approach to combat child labor. Suriname is a member of the International Labor Organization and recognizes international labor law in its domestic legislation. Labor laws incorporate freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, along with prohibitions against forced labor, child labor, and employment discrimination. Existing legislation also provides for humane working conditions, occupational safety and health, and standardized working hours. The Labor Inspection Department supervises observance of labor abuses, health, and safety standards. Enforcement appears sufficient.
The new labor laws enacted or regulated last year address “Collective Bargaining,” “Freedom of Association,” “Labor Inspection,” and “Deploying Labor through Intermediary.”
Pending bills are on “Protecting Motherhood,” “Contract Labor,” and the “Dismissal Law.”
12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
There are no OPIC programs in operation. Suriname signed an Investment Incentive Agreement with the United States in 1993.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Suriname does not release foreign direct investment data publically. There are no tax haven sources of inward FDI.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Portfolio investment data are not available in Suriname. The host government does not publish portfolio investment data.
14. Contact for More Information
U.S. Embassy Paramaribo