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Antigua and Barbuda

Executive Summary

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) statistics, Antigua and Barbuda’s 2021 estimated gross domestic product (GDP) was $1.47 billion (3.97 billion Eastern Caribbean dollars). This represents an approximate 5.3 percent growth from 2020. The ECCB forecasts 2022 growth at 4.7 percent.

Unanticipated spending on pandemic response measures, coupled with sharp declines in government revenues, forced the government to increase borrowing in 2020. As of December 2021, Antigua and Barbuda reported total public sector debt of $1.3 billion representing 89 percent of GDP. Unlike other Eastern Caribbean (EC) countries, Antigua and Barbuda did not have the resources to significantly increase spending on social support payments to vulnerable populations. Following several years of operating losses, the government became the sole source of financing for regional airline Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) in mid-2020. Based in Antigua and Barbuda, LIAT was heavily overstaffed and therefore a major employer, but is now under the supervision of a bankruptcy trustee.

Antigua and Barbuda ranks 113th out of 190 countries rated in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report. The scores remain relatively unchanged from the 2019 report, though some improvements in the ease of starting a business were highlighted.

Through the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA), the government encourages foreign direct investment, particularly in industries that create jobs and earn foreign exchange. The ABIA facilitates and supports foreign direct investment in the country and maintains an open dialogue with current and potential investors. All potential investors are afforded the same level of business facilitation services.

While the government welcomes all foreign direct investment, tourism and related services, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, information and communication technologies, business process outsourcing, financial services, health and wellness services, creative industries, education, yachting and marine services, real estate, and renewable energy have been identified by the government as priority investment areas.

There are no limits on foreign control of investment and ownership in Antigua and Barbuda. Foreign investors may hold up to 100 percent of an investment.

Antigua and Barbuda’s legal system is based on British common law. There is currently an unresolved dispute regarding the alleged expropriation of an American-owned property. For this reason, the U.S. government recommends continued caution when investing in real estate in Antigua and Barbuda.

In 2017, the government signed an intergovernmental agreement in observance of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Antigua and Barbuda to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index N/A N/A http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview  
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator  
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 7.0 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita 2019 16,420 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD  

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Antigua and Barbuda are governed by their respective legislation and do not generally pose a threat to investors, as they are not designed for competition. The government established many SOEs to create economic activity in areas where the private sector is perceived to have little interest.

SOEs are headed by boards of directors to which senior managers report. In 2016, Parliament passed the Statutory Corporations (General Provisions) Act, which specifies ministerial responsibilities in the appointment and termination of board members, decisions of the board, and employment in these SOEs. To promote diversity and independence on SOE boards, professional associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and civil society may nominate directors for boards.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct by producers and consumers is positively regarded in Antigua and Barbuda. The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.

The NGO community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental, and community projects. The government at times partners with NGOs in their activities and encourages philanthropy.

Antigua and Barbuda is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implements these laws if corruption is proven. Allegations of corruption against government officials in Antigua and Barbuda are common. Both major political parties frequently accuse the other of corruption, but investigations yield few results. Antigua and Barbuda is party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the UN Anti-Corruption Convention.

The Integrity in Public Life Act requires all public officials to disclose all income, assets (including those of spouses and children), and personal gifts received while in public office. An integrity commission, established by the act and appointed by the Governor General, receives and investigates complaints regarding noncompliance with or violations of this law or of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As the only agency charged with combatting corruption, the commission was independent but understaffed and under-resourced. Critics stated the legislation was inadequately enforced and that the act should be strengthened.

The Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy is the independent law enforcement agency with specific authority to investigate reports of suspicious activity concerning specified offenses and the proceeds of crime.

The Freedom of Information Act granted citizens the statutory right to access official documents from public authorities and agencies and created a commissioner to oversee the process. In practice, citizens found it difficult to obtain documents, possibly due to government funding constraints rather than obstruction. The act created a special unit mandated to monitor and verify disclosures. By law, the disclosures are not public. There are criminal and administrative sanctions for noncompliance.

10. Political and Security Environment

Antigua and Barbuda does not have a recent history of politically motivated violence or civil disturbance. Elections are peaceful and regarded as being free and fair. The next general elections are constitutionally due by May 2023.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Updated figures for the employed labor force for 2021 remain unavailable.

According to available World Bank statistics, the adult literacy rate is 99 percent. The labor code dictates that the minimum working age is 16 years. People under 18 must have a medical clearance to work and may not work later than 10 p.m. The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Public Safety, and Labour conducts periodic workplace inspections to enforce this law. The labor commissioner’s office also has an inspectorate that investigates child labor allegations.

The labor code dictates that workers have the right to associate freely and to form labor unions. Approximately 60 percent of formal sector workers belong to a union. Unions are free to conduct activities without government interference. Labor unions form an important part of the membership of both political parties. The law provides for the right of public and private sector workers to organize and bargain collectively without interference.

The labor code provides for the right to bargain collectively and conduct legal strikes, though there are several restrictions on the right to strike. Essential workers must provide two weeks’ notice of intent to strike. Once the party to a dispute requests court mediation, strikes are prohibited under penalty of imprisonment. Because of the delays associated with this process, unions often resolve labor disputes before calling a strike. The Industrial Relations Court may issue an injunction against a legal strike when the national interest is threatened or affected. The law prohibits retaliation against strikers. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers, but it does not specifically require reinstatement of workers illegally fired for union activity.

The labor code provides that the Minister of Legal Affairs, Public Safety, and Labour may issue orders, which have the force of law, to establish a minimum wage. The minimum wage is $3.03 (8.18 Eastern Caribbean dollars) an hour for all categories of labor. In practice, the great majority of workers earn substantially more than minimum wage.

The customary standard workweek is 40 hours in five days. The law provides that the employer may not require workers to work more than a 48-hour, six-day workweek, and provides for 12 paid annual holidays. The law requires that employees be paid one and a half times the employees’ basic wage per hour for overtime work in excess of the standard workweek. The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Public Safety, and Labour put few limitations on overtime, allowing it in temporary or occasional cases, but did not allow employers to make regular overtime compulsory.

Investors in Antigua and Barbuda are required to maintain workers’ rights and safeguard the environment. While there are no specific health and safety regulations, the Labour Code provides general health and safety guidelines to labor inspectors. The Labour Commission settles disputes over labor abuses, health, and safety conditions. The law gives the ministry the authority to require special safety measures, not otherwise defined in the law, to be put in place for worker safety. Antigua and Barbuda is party to the International Labor Convention on Occupational Health and Safety No. 155 of 1981.

Workers have the right to report unsafe work environments without jeopardy to continued employment. Inspectors then investigate such claims, and workers may leave such locations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2019 $1,668 2019 1,687.5 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 7 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/ 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 5 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 81.4 UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report
* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank:  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/gdp-datas/comparative-report/1

Table 3
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
Telephone Number: 246-227-4000
Email: BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov 

Barbados

Executive Summary

With a $4.4 billion economy, Barbados is the largest economy in the Eastern Caribbean. The shutdown of the tourism sector in 2020 due to the pandemic led to an 18 percent GDP contraction. The economy began to recover in 2021 with 1.4 percent growth, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts 2022 growth at 8.5 percent. Unemployment was estimated at approximately 40 percent in the first quarter of 2021, representing a 30 percent increase from the same period last year.

The Government of Barbados entered a standby arrangement with the IMF in late 2018.  The $290 million ($580 million Barbados dollars) Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) program aims to decrease the debt-to-GDP ratio, strengthen the balance of payments, and stimulate growth.  While the government was on track to meet its IMF targets pre-pandemic, the program dampened income and spending power due to public sector layoffs, the introduction of new indirect taxes, and a decline in the construction sector.  The impact of the pandemic required the IMF to adjust the program targets downwards several times. The IMF also approved additional lending into the program twice in 2020.

The country’s services sector continues to hold the largest growth potential, especially in the areas of international financial services, information technology, global education services, health, and cultural services.  The gradual decline of the sugar industry has opened land for other agricultural uses.  Investment opportunities exist in the areas of agricultural processing and alternative and renewable energy.  Uncertainty about the trajectory of economic recovery of the tourism, commercial aviation, and cruise industries impacts the potential for projects in those sectors. The government has identified renewable energy and climate resilience projects as top priorities. In 2021, Barbados joined the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) framework seeking to harmonize global corporate minimum tax rates at 15 percent.

Barbados bases its legal system on the British common law system. It does not have a bilateral investment agreement with the United States, but it does have a double-taxation treaty and a tax information exchange agreement.

In 2015, Barbados signed an intergovernmental agreement in observance of the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Barbados to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 29 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) N/A N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 14,350 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD   

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Barbados work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit, and carry out certain ministerial responsibilities. There are 33 SOEs in Barbados operating in areas such as travel and tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, sanitation services, sports, and culture. Pre-pandemic total net income was estimated at $60 million (120 million Barbados dollars).

SOEs in Barbados are not found in the key areas earmarked for investment. They are all wholly owned government entities. They are headed by boards of directors to which their senior management reports.

As part of the ongoing IMF BERT program, the Government of Barbados is addressing the expenditure position of the SOEs by defining clear objectives for SOE reforms, reducing the wage bill of these entities, and implementing other necessary reform measures.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social, and cultural causes. The non-governmental organization (NGO) community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental, and community projects. The government periodically partners with NGOs and encourages philanthropy.

Barbados was on the Tier 2 Watch List for trafficking in persons for from 2019-2021, however, there are no known human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct of

which foreign businesses should be aware.

Adoption of broad corporate governance codes such as the OECD guidelines is voluntary, as is disclosure of corporate governance practices. In practice, many companies in Barbados are influenced by international best practices. CBB and FSC guidelines regulate the purpose and role of the board of directors. The accounting profession is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, which is a member of the International Federation of Accountants.

Barbados is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. Barbados signed but did not yet ratify the UN Convention on Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

In 2012, Barbados enacted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which includes standards of integrity in public life. It has not been proclaimed by the President and consequently is not in force. The Integrity of Public Life Bill 2020, which mandated declaration of assets by all politicians, senior public officers, chair people, and high-ranking managers of SOEs, passed in Barbados’ Parliament but was ultimately defeated in the Senate. Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s administration plans to bring the bill back to Parliament in 2022 but has acknowledged the need to reach agreement with opposing forces in the Senate.

The Government of Barbados has announced its intention to establish a public investment dashboard to provide information relevant to public sector investment projects, including cost overruns, procurement procedures, and company selection. The government also plans to establish an independent statistics and data analytics authority and to introduce a Freedom of Information Act.

A government minister with the previous administration was arrested in the United States on charges of laundering proceeds from bribes paid in Barbados. In 2020, he was found guilty on two charges of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Barbados is a member of the regional Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

10. Political and Security Environment

Barbados does not have a recent history of politically motivated violence or civil unrest.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Barbados’ labor force was 141,940 people at the end of 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the total average unemployment rate was approximately 40 percent, an increase of 30 percent from the same period the previous year due to ongoing economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy began to recover in 2021 with 1.4 percent growth, and the IMF forecasts 2022 growth at 8.5 percent, a faster rate of recovery than previously expected.

Labor regulations in Barbados are guided by a framework of laws including the Holidays with Pay Act, the Sick Leave Act, the Public Holidays Act, and the Protection of Wages Act, as well as policies regarding maternity leave, national insurance (social security) contributions, unemployment benefits, and severance pay. Barbados has ratified the eight core conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Barbados upholds the ratified conventions and is guided by the ILO’s other conventions.

Wages in Barbados are some of the highest in the Caribbean. Minimum wages are administratively established for only a few categories of workers and are enforced by the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Department. The minimum wage for shop assistants is currently $4.25 (8.50 Barbados dollars) per hour. The Ministry of Labour recommends that companies recognize this as the de facto minimum wage, though most employees earn more than this. The standard legal workweek is 40 hours in five days, and the law provides employees with three weeks of paid holiday for persons with less than five years’ service and four weeks of paid holiday leave after five years’ service. The law requires overtime payment of time and a half for hours worked in excess of the legal standard and prescribes that all overtime must be voluntary.

The law does not set a maximum number of overtime hours. Workers are covered by unemployment benefits legislation and national insurance legislation after 52 weeks of continuous employment. The government sets occupational safety and health standards.

Workers are legally allowed to form and join unions and conduct strikes, but there is no specific legal recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Most major employers choose to recognize unions when more than 50 percent of employees request recognition. Smaller companies are less frequently unionized. Companies are sometimes hesitant to engage in collective bargaining with recognized unions, but in most instances they eventually do so. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and protects workers engaged in union activity. Private-sector employees can strike, but strikes are prohibited by workers in essential services such as police, firefighting, electricity, and water.

In general, the government effectively enforces labor laws, and penalties are sufficient to deter violations. The law gives employees the right to have allegations of unfair dismissal tried before the Employment Rights Tribunal, but the process often has lengthy delays. Workers’ rights are generally respected. Unions receive periodic complaints of violations of collective bargaining agreements, but most complaints are resolved through established mechanisms.

The law provides for a minimum working age of 16. Compulsory primary and secondary education policies reinforce minimum age requirements. The Labour Department has a small cadre of labor inspectors who conduct spot investigations of enterprises and check records to verify compliance with the law. These inspectors may take legal action against an employer who is found to have underage workers.

Under the Severance Payments Act, an employer is obligated to pay an employee a severance payment where the employee is terminated on account of redundancy. The Employee Rights Act, section 31, provides that dismissal of an employee on account of redundancy does not contravene the right not to be unfairly dismissed. Qualifying workers who are laid off for economic reasons are generally entitled to receive a severance payment on a graduating scale that starts at 2.5 weeks’ pay for every completed year of employment. All unemployed workers are eligible for unemployment benefits upon meeting the qualifying contribution periods established by the National Insurance and Social Security scheme.

The Occupational Health at Work Act governs the general health and safety of workers in all workplaces except the armed forces and private household domestic service. The law requires firms employing more than 50 workers (fewer in certain sectors) to create a safety committee that may challenge the decisions of management concerning occupational safety and health. The Labour Department also enforces health and safety standards and follows up to ensure that management corrects problems. Trade union monitors can identify safety problems for government factory inspectors. The Labour Department’s Inspection Unit conducts routine annual inspections of government-operated corporations and manufacturing plants. Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous or hazardous job situations without jeopardizing their continued employment.

According to government figures, the growing informal economy represents between 30 and 40 percent of GDP. The government has stated that by avoiding taxes and regulations, informal firms have an unfair advantage over more efficient formal firms, undermining economic growth and progress. In general, most sectors of the Barbados informal economy do not overlap with potential investment sectors for U.S. and other foreign businesses.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2020 $4,690 2020 $4,418 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 $45,400 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $57,053 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 186% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/
world-investment-report
   

* Source for Host Country Data: Central Bank of Barbados (CBB)  http://www.centralbank.org.bb  

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
Phone Number: 246-227-4000
Email:  BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov  

Belize

Executive Summary

Belize has the smallest economy in Central America, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of US $1.3 billion in 2021, a 12.5 percent expansion over the previous year. Due to mounting fiscal pressures and a need to diversify and expand its economy, the Government of Belize (GoB) is open to, and actively seeks, foreign direct investment (FDI).  However, the small population of the country (2021 estimate – 432,516 persons), high cost of doing business, high public debt, bureaucratic delays, often insufficient infrastructure, and corruption constitute investment challenges. The Central Bank of Belize projects the country’s GDP will likely expand 6.0 percent in 2022 while the IMF’s projects 6.5 percent growth, led by a rebound of activity in the construction, retail and wholesale trade, transport and communication, and tourism sectors.

Public debt declined from 133 percent of GDP in 2020 to 108 percent in 2021. This was in large part due to the Blue Bond Agreement, a successful marine protection and conservation-driven financial transaction. International reserves increased from US $348 million (3.8 months of imports) in 2020 to US $420 million (3.9 months of imports) in 2021, partly due to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 25.6 million allocation, which the authorities are keeping as reserve. Belize’s government encourages FDI to relieve fiscal pressure and transform the economy. The Central Bank of Belize recorded increased inflows of FDI at US $152.25 million in 2021 and outflows at US $24.4 million in the same period.  FDI inflows were concentrated primarily in real estate, construction, financial intermediation, and the hotel and restaurant industries.

Generally, Belize has no restrictions on foreign ownership and control of companies; however, foreign investments must be registered with the Central Bank of Belize and adhere to the Exchange Control Act and related regulations. The Government of Belize (GoB) made progress on the ease of doing business through trade license, stamp duty, exchange control, and land reforms to streamline business applications and related processes.

The banking system remains stable but fragile. Since January 2020, a domestic bank and an international bank each lost a correspondent banking relationship, a significant portion of the sector. In March 2022, the GoB lowered the business tax on the net interest income charged to banks and financial institutions to encourage lending in strategic foreign exchange earning sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sectors.

There were incidents of property destruction at two American companies involved in sugar cane industry in the last year. In response, a prominent agro-productive organization wrote to the Government in January 2022 expressing concerns that the Belizean government’s failure to protect and support private sector investors in these instances led to damaging the investment climate and the Belizean economy.

Belize is categorized as a small island developing state (SIDS) that is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is a relatively minor contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Belize’s updated National Determined Contributions (NDC) is nonetheless committed to developing a long-term strategy aligned with achieving net zero global emissions by 2050.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 N/A http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 USD 64 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 4,110 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) exist largely in the utilities sectors, generally as a result of nationalization.  The government is the majority shareholder in the Belize Water Services Limited, the country’s sole provider of water services, the Belize Electricity Limited, the sole distributor of electricity, and the Belize Telemedia Limited, the largest telecommunications provider in the country. The Public Utilities Commission regulates all utilities.

SOEs usually select senior government officials, members of local business bureaus and chambers of commerce, labor organizations, and quasi-governmental agencies to staff these companies’ boards of directors.  The board serves to direct policy and shape business decisions of the ostensibly independent SOE.  Current and previous administrations have been accused of nepotism and cronyism and criticized for having conflicts of interest when board members or directors are also represented in organizations that do business with the SOEs.

There is no published list of SOEs.  The following are the major SOEs operating in the country.  Information relating to their operations is available on their websites:  Belize Electricity Limited http://www.bel.com.bz ; Belize Telemedia Limited at https://www.livedigi.com ;  Belize Water Services Limited http://www.bws.bz 

There is no public third-party market analysis that evaluate whether SOEs receive non-market advantages by the government.  The Belize Electricity Limited and the Belize Water Services Limited are the only service providers in their respective sectors.  The Belize Telemedia Limited, on the other hand, competes with one other provider for mobile connectivity and there are multiple players that provide internet and data services.  U.S. firms have identified challenges in participating and competing in areas related to the bidding, procurement and dispute settlement processes, particular to SOEs.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Belize generally lacks broad awareness of the expectations and standards for responsible business conduct (RBC).  However, many foreign and local companies engage in responsible corporate behaviors and partner with NGOs or international organizations to reinvest in community development and charitable work.  Companies sponsor educational scholarships, sports-related activities, community enhancement projects, and entrepreneurship activities, among other programs.  There is a strong thread of environmental awareness that also impacts business decision-making.  BELTRAIDE, in its official public outreach, promotes civic responsibility, especially in its outreach to entrepreneurs and aspiring businesspeople.

The Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints of official corruption and abuse of power.  As required by law, the Ombudsman is active in filing annual reports to the National Assembly and investigating incidents of alleged misconduct, particularly of police abuses.   This office continues to be constrained by the lack of enforcement powers, political pressure, and limited resources.

Belize has no recent cases of private-sector impact on human rights and no NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations/unions, or business associations specifically promote or monitor RBC.

Certain projects require the Department of the Environment’s approval for Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental Compliance Plans. The Department of Environment website, http://www.doe.gov.bz , has more information on the Environmental Protection Act, various regulations, applications, and guidelines.

Belize has not adopted a particular accounting framework as its national standard. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are required for domestic banks under the Domestic Bank and Financial Institutions Act (DBFIA) of Belize. Also, under the DBFIA, the Central Bank of Belize issues practice direction, directives, guidance, and advisories on corporate governance applicable to all banks and financial institutions operating and supervised by the Central Bank.

For other companies, Belize permits the use of IFRS Standards and the IFRS for SMEs as the standard financial reporting framework for preparing financial statements. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize regards IFRS Standards as an allowed accounting framework under its professional standards. Alternatively, non-bank companies are permitted to use other internationally recognized standards. The U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Canadian GAAP are often used. There are no government measures relating executive compensation standards and RBC policies are not factored into procurement decisions.  Opposition party political pronouncements often target official malfeasance in procurement and cronyism in government contracts, but these concerns are historically muted once the opposition takes power.

There are similarly no alleged or reported human or labor rights concerns relating to RBC. In recent years, labor unions and business associations have become actively engaged in advocating for stronger measures against corruption.

Belize does not have a developed mineral sector and is not a conflict or high-risk country.  As such, it does not adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.  Belize’s extractive/mining industry is not developed, and it does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and/or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

The country is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor is it a supporter of the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers and is not a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

Belize has anticorruption laws that are seldom enforced.  Under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act, public officials are required to make annual financial disclosures, but there is little adherence and poor enforcement.  The Act criminalizes acts of corruption by public officials and includes measures on the use of office for private gain; code of conduct breaches; the misuse of public funds; and bribery.  This Act also established an Integrity Commission mandated to monitor, prevent, and combat corruption by examining declarations of physical assets and financial positions filed by public officers.  In practice, the office is understaffed and charges are almost never brought against officials.  It is not uncommon for politicians disgraced in corruption scandals to return to government after a short period of time has elapsed. The Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act identifies “politically exposed persons” to include family members or close associates of any politician.

The Ministry of Finance issues the Belize Stores Orders and Financial Orders – policies and procedures for government procurement.  The Manual for the Control of Public Finances provides the framework for the registration and use of public funds to procure goods and services. Private companies are neither required to establish internal codes of conduct, ethics, or compliance programs, nor is it common to use them.

In June 2001, the Government of Belize signed the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Convention on Corruption, which calls for periodic reviews.   In December 2016, Belize acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) amid public pressure and demonstrations from the teachers’ unions.  The Belizean government continues to be criticized for the lack of political will to fully implement UNCAC.

There are few non-governmental institutions that monitor government activities. The most active, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), lobbies within narrow labor-related areas.  Environmental NGOs and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) often make statements regarding government policy as it affects their respective spheres of activity.  The government does not provide protection to NGOs investigating corruption.

Despite these measures, many businesspeople complain that both major political parties practice bias that creates an unlevel playing field related to businesses seeking licenses, the importation of goods, winning government contracts for procurement of goods and services, and transfer of government land to private owners.  Some middle-class citizens and business owners have complained of government officials, including police, soliciting bribes.

10. Political and Security Environment

Belize has traditionally enjoyed one of the most stable political environments in the region, having held peaceful and transparent democratic elections since gaining independence on September 21, 1981.  In general elections, the two major political parties usually trade leadership. The current People’s United Party gained an overwhelming majority in the November 2020 General Elections, winning twenty-six of the thirty-one electoral divisions. The few times political candidates have questioned the result of elections, these have been settled by the court.

There were incidents of property destruction at two American companies involved in sugar cane industry in the last year. In December 2021, cane farmers from Belize’s largest cane farmers association blockaded the access road to a major American investment in Orange Walk for three days, preventing other farmers from delivering cane to the factory. An impasse between the cane farmer association and the sugar mill for a contract to deliver cane sparked the incident. The American investment subsequently initiated two legal suits against the cane farmer’s association for destruction to property and economic losses incurred. The second company located in the Cayo District, suffered arson in January 2022, presumably related to a conflict associated with land rights. Over 1,200 acres of sugar cane was lost in the fire, an estimated loss of US $1.15 million. In response, a prominent agro-productive organization wrote to the Government in January 2022 expressing concerns that the Belizean government’s failure to protect and support private sector investors in these instances led to damaging the investment climate and Belizean economy still further.

Neighboring Guatemala’s long-standing territorial claim on Belize has persisted for almost two centuries.  The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is currently deliberating the territorial dispute.  In December 2020, Guatemala filed its claim to Belize’s continental land, islands, and seas, and Belize will file its counter claim in June 2022. Despite legal efforts to resolve the claim, the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), a local Belizean NGO, continues to document illegal encroachments and settlements in and beyond the adjacency zone in Belize. In July 2021, FCD rangers accompanied by Belize Defence Force (BDF) members were fired upon by Guatemalan civilians as the former attempted to destroy illegal plantations in the Chiquibul forest reserve in Belize. The BDF retaliated, which in turn instigated the response of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF). The incident did not escalate further and there were no casualties.

The second major security concern is the high level of crime countrywide. While Belize has a high murder rate per capita, it is primarily focused on the urban areas of Belize City. Corruption, human and drug trafficking, money laundering (institutional and trade-based), and local criminal gang activity remain significant problems exacerbated by the low conviction rate.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

According to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the population was estimated to be 432,516 as of September 2021.  The labor force was 191,881 as of September 2021.  Of this, the unemployed amounted to 17,644 persons for an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, representing a 4.5 percent decrease from September 2020. The report noted that about 48 percent of working aged women participated in the labor force and 76.1 percent of men. The main reason women did not look for work was due to personal or family responsibilities, while men did not look for work mainly due to school or training.

In its Labor Force Survey of September 2021, the Statistical Institute of Belize estimated the number of persons in informal employment was 72,433 accounting for about 41.6 percent of all employed persons. Persons in informal employment earned about US $420 per month. A 2018/2019 Household Budget Survey assessed the country’s poverty level had increased from 41.3 percent in 2009 to 52 percent in 2012. The poverty line in 2018 was assessed at US $3,980 per annum or US $331.66 monthly. The Government of Belize asserts the COVID-19 pandemic raised the poverty rate, which hovers at almost 60 percent, and sparked significant growth of the informal sector. The agriculture sector has identified shortage of unskilled labor in the agriculture sector. The health sector faces a shortage of qualified nurses and high.

In general, there are no restrictions on employers adjusting their labor force in response to fluctuating market conditions.  Employers are flexible in offering salary increases, which are normally justified based on cost of living and prevailing practice consideration.  Severance payment is subject to local labor law, the Labour Act Chapter 297.  This Act differentiates between layoffs (voluntary termination and redundancy) and firing (dismissal).  In the cases of voluntary termination and redundancy, the law provides for an appropriate notice period, payment in lieu of notice, severance, etc.  In the case of redundancy, the employer must notify, where applicable, the recognized trade union or workers’ representative as well as the Labour Commissioner.

In addition to the general Social Security system, the government maintains a National Health Insurance scheme in certain marginalized communities throughout the country.  The government also provides some assistance to unemployed persons who represent marginalized sectors of the community, e.g., single women, single mothers, and young unemployed persons.

Foreign investors who have a development concession are permitted to bring in skilled personnel to complement their local labor force and, if appropriate, establish training programs for Belizean nationals. Labor laws are not generally waived to attract or retain investment.

Belize has eleven trade unions and an umbrella organization, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB).  Belize has ratified 50 International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, of which 45 are in force, including Convention 182 against the worst forms of child labor.  Trade unions are independent of the government and employers both in practice and in law.  The Department of Labour recognizes registered unions and employers’ associations.  Trade union laws establish procedures for the registration and status of trade unions and employers’ organizations and for collective bargaining.  Unions are common in the public sector (teachers, general public servants), the Social Security Board, the utility and agriculture sectors, and among port stevedores.

Where employees are unionized, employers must refer to the laws relating to the operation of unions as well as the terms of existing collective bargaining agreements between the employer and unions. Where disputes arise between an employer and employee in the private sector and where the employee is not represented by a union, both parties may approach the Labour Department to mediate discussions for an amicable solution. Failing a resolution, the matter is then first referred to the labor tribunal then to the court.

The national fire service, postal service, monetary and financial services, civil aviation and airport security services, and port authority pilots and security services are all deemed essential services. The law allows authorities to refer disputes involving employees who provide “essential services” to compulsory arbitration, prohibit strikes, and terminate actions.   On January 21, 2022, stevedores at the port in Belize City undertook industrial action against the port. The Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal delivered a notice on January 27, 2022, mandating the port management confirm the selected stevedores as registered stevedores, pay contributions to retirement savings for stevedores, and commence negotiations for the payment of redundancy packages. Port management countered with a lawsuit that remains before the courts, claiming US $500,000 in damages and loss of business.

Belize does have laws and regulations relating to international labor standards.  There is also a system in place for labor inspectors to advocate on labor-related concerns and complaints, as well as to visit and inspect business facilities to ensure adherence to local labor laws. Belize’s legislation does not address a situation in which child labor is contracted between a parent and the employer. The penalty for employing a child below minimum age is a fine not exceeding US $10 or imprisonment not exceeding two months.

Additionally, while there are laws that prohibit a wide range of discrimination in the workplace, they are not effectively enforced and do not explicitly provide protections for persons with disabilities or against discrimination related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There is anecdotal evidence that certain vulnerable sectors, particularly migrant workers, undocumented persons, young service workers, and agricultural laborers, were regularly paid below the minimum wage and classified as contract and nonpermanent employees to avoid providing certain benefits.

The GoB established a minimum wage task force to oversee the implementation of the five-dollar minimum wage in a phased approach, which is expected to commence by July 1, 2022.

14. Contact for More Information

Andrea De Arment
Chief of Political/Economic Section
4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize
T: +501-822-4011
BelmopanPolEcon@state.gov 

Vincent Lowney
Environmental, Science, Technology and Health Officer
4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize
T: +501-822-4011
BelmopanPolEcon@state.gov 

Carmen Silva
Economic/Commercial Assistant
4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize
T: +501-822-4011
BelmopanPolEcon@state.gov 

Dominica

Executive Summary

The Commonwealth of Dominica (Dominica) is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  The Government of Dominica strongly encourages foreign direct investment, particularly in industries that create jobs, earn foreign currency, and have a positive impact on its citizens.  Dominica remains vulnerable to external shocks such as climate change impacts, natural hazards, and global economic downturns.  According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) figures, the economy of Dominica had an estimated GDP of $409.9 million USD (1,107.78 billion Eastern Caribbean dollars) in 2021, which signified a slight recovery from a 15.4 percent contraction in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stagnation of the tourism sector.  The IMF forecasts real GDP growth of 7.9 percent in 2022 and expects GDP to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

The economy also continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.  Losses from Hurricane Maria were estimated at $1.37 billion or 226 percent of GDP.  Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government was primarily focused on reconstruction efforts, with support from the international community.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Dominica has received financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to provide fiscal assistance and macro-economic stability and support in health-related expenditures, loss of household income, food security, and the agricultural sector.

Through its economic policies, the government is seeking to stimulate sustainable and climate-resilient economic growth by implementing a revised macroeconomic framework that includes strengthening the nation’s fiscal framework.  The government states it is committed to creating a vibrant business climate to attract more foreign investment.

Dominica remains a small emerging market in the Eastern Caribbean, with investment opportunities mainly in the service sector, particularly in eco-tourism, information and communication technologies, and education.  Other opportunities exist in alternative energy, including geothermal energy, and capital works due to reconstruction and new tourism projects.

The government provides some investment incentives for businesses that are considering establishing operations in Dominica, encouraging both domestic and foreign private investment.  Foreign investors can repatriate all profits and dividends and can import capital. Dominica’s legal system is based on British common law.  It does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, though it does have bilateral investment treaties with the UK and Germany.

In 2018, the Government of Dominica signed an Intergovernmental Agreement to implement the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Dominica to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 45 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) N/A N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 7,270 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Dominica has not signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  It benefits from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), which was implemented in January 1984. CBERA is intended to facilitate the development of stable Caribbean Basin economies by providing beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. Dominica has bilateral investment treaties with the UK and Germany.  Dominica has bilateral tax treaties with the United States and the UK.

Dominica is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing and is party to the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 deal on the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges, including a global minimum corporate tax.

Dominica is also party to the following agreements:

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

The Treaty of Chaguaramas established CARICOM in 1973 to promote economic integration among its 15 member states.  Investors operating in Dominica have preferential access to the entire CARICOM market.  The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas established the CSME, which permits the free movement of goods, capital, and labor within CARICOM member states.

Organization of Eastern Caribbean States

The Revised Treaty of Basseterre established the OECS.  The OECS consists of seven full members: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and four associate members: Anguilla, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the British Virgin Islands.  The OECS aims to promote harmonization among member states 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 in 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.

CARIFORUM- EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The European Community and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) states signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008.  CARIFORUM consists of the independent Anglophone CARCOM member states, the Dominican Republic and Suriname. The overarching objectives of the EPA are to alleviate poverty in CARIFORUM states, 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 EPA promotes trade-related developments in areas such as competition, intellectual property, public procurement, the environment, and protection of personal data.

CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK and CARIFORUM signed an EPA in 2019, committing to trade continuity after Britain’s departure from the European Union.  The CARIFORUM-UK EPA eliminates tariffs on all goods imported from CARIFORUM states into the UK, while those Caribbean states will continue to gradually cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.

Caribbean Basin Initiative

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

Caribbean/Canada Trade Agreement

The Caribbean/Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) is an economic and trade development assistance program for Commonwealth Caribbean countries.  Through CARIBCAN, Canada provides duty-free access to its national market for the majority of its products originating in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Dominica work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit to carry out certain specific ministerial responsibilities.  The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown is aware of 20 SOEs currently operating in areas such as tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, solid waste management, and agriculture.  There is no published list of these SOEs.  They are all wholly owned government entities.  Each is headed by a board of directors to which senior management reports.  The SOE sector is affected by financial sustainability challenges, with resources insufficient to cover capital replacement.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  The government encourages philanthropy but does not have regulations in place to mandate such activities by private companies.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; however, government implementation and enforcement of the law is inconsistent.   Members of the political opposition and civil society representatives allege that officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Local media and opposition leadership continued to raise allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program.  Dominica acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2010.  The country is party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.

The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 and the Integrity in Public Office (Amendment) Act 2015 require government officials to account annually for their income, assets, and gifts.  All offenses under the act, including the late filing of declarations, are criminalized.  The Integrity Commission was established to monitor the functions under this Act.  The Integrity Commission’s mandate and decisions can be found at  http://www.integritycommission.gov.dm .  Generally, the Integrity Commission reports on late submissions and on inappropriately completed forms but does not share financial disclosures of officials with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Integrity Commission has not updated documents on its website since 2016.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting corruption offenses, but it lacks adequate personnel and resources to handle complicated money laundering and public corruption cases.

10. Political and Security Environment

Dominica held parliamentary elections in December 2019.  Voting was held under heightened security following weeks of protests and legal challenges seeking electoral reform.  The protests were led by the United Workers’ Party, which lost the election in a landslide to the ruling Dominica Labour Party.

Dominica’s economy was severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  The IMF has projected that Dominica’s GDP will grow 7.9 percent in 2022.  In May 2020, the government unveiled a disaster resilience strategy that was based on three key pillars: structural resilience, financial resilience, and post-disaster resilience.  Both the IMF and the World Bank provided support to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The government last raised Dominica’s minimum wage in June 2008.  It varies according to the category of worker, with the lowest minimum wage set at approximately $1.50 an hour and the maximum set at approximately $2.06 an hour.  The standard workweek is 40 hours for five or six days of work.  The law provides overtime pay for work in excess of the standard workweek.  Dominica has a labor force of approximately 32,630, with a literacy rate of 95 percent.

The local state college largely meets the country’s technical and training needs.  There is also a small pool of professionals to draw from in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, business, information technology, and accounting.  Many of the professionals in Dominica trained in the United States, Canada, the UK, or the wider Caribbean, where many of them gained work experience before returning to the country.

The labor legislation in Dominica is applicable to all employees and employers.  There are no waivers or exceptions regarding the application of labor laws and standards in Dominica.

Employers usually advertise job vacancies in local newspapers.  The government recommends that the advertisement be placed on three separate occasions to ensure transparency and equal opportunity for Dominican residents to apply.  The Embassy is not aware of any instances of government interference with the employer’s right to make hiring determinations.

The Labor Contract Act stipulates that an employee shall receive a contract from his/her employer within 14 days of engagement outlining the terms and conditions of employment.

The labor laws clearly regulate and define layoffs and the conditions under which layoffs can occur.  Severance by redundancy is also regulated by law.  People employed for three years or more qualify for severance pay.  Social security benefits are payable only when the employee reaches retirement age.

The Industrial Relations Act provides for and regulates trade unions in both public and private sectors.  Dominican law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, the right to strike, and the right of workers to bargain collectively with employers.  The government generally enforces laws governing worker rights effectively, and penalties generally were sufficient to deter violations.  Administrative and judicial procedures are not generally subject to lengthy delays or appeals.  Government mediation and arbitration are free of charge.  The law prohibits anti-union discrimination by providing that employers must reinstate workers who file a successful complaint of illegal dismissal, which can cover being fired for engaging in union activities or other grounds of wrongful dismissal. Employers generally reinstated or paid compensation to employees who obtained favorable rulings by the ministry following a complaint of legal dismissal.

Collective bargaining is permitted in all firms (both public and private) where the employees are unionized.  A copy of the collective bargaining agreement must be filed at the Ministry of Labor.  There are no sectoral collective agreements.  All unionized firms are obliged by law to negotiate terms and conditions of employment of all workers, whether or not they are members of a trade union.  Dominica ratified all of the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s eight core conventions on human rights and labor administration.

The government deemed emergency, port, electricity, telecommunications, and prison services employees, as well as banana, coconut, and citrus fruit cultivation workers “essential,” deterring workers in these sectors from going on the strike.  The ILO noted the list of essential services is broader than international standards.  Nonetheless, in practice essential workers conducted strikes and did not suffer reprisals.  The procedure for essential workers to strike is cumbersome, involving appropriate notice and submitting the grievance to the labor commissioner for possible mediation.  These actions are usually resolved through mediation by the Office of the Labor Commissioner, with the rest referred to the Industrial Relations Tribunal for binding arbitration.

The Industrial Relations Act also mandates the establishment of the Industrial Relations Board and the Industrial Relations Tribunals as dispute resolution mechanisms.  The Division of Labor acts as the first arbitrator with matters of investigation, mediation, and conciliation.  Matters are referred only to the tribunals by the minister when conciliation fails or by request of any of the disputing parties.

Enforcement is the responsibility of the Labor Commissioner within the Ministry of Justice, Immigration and National Security.  Labor laws provide that the labor commissioner may authorize the employment of a person with disabilities at a wage lower than the minimum rate to enable that person to work.  The Employment Safety Act provides occupational health and safety regulations that are consistent with international standards.  Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment and the authorities effectively enforced this right in practice.

The informal economy plays a significant role in the labor market and economy of Dominica. The IMF has estimated that the informal economy averaged 46 percent of GDP over the 2011-2019 period. Nearly forty percent of informal sector workers were in wholesale and retail trade, with another 24 percent in manufacturing, 9 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and 29 percent in other industries. Despite the significance of the informal economy in Dominica, there is little evidence of its impact on contracts or access to industries of interest to U.S. and other foreign investors.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2020 $503.7 2020 $504.2 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $0 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 66.8% UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report 

* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/dashboard-datas/ .

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDIData not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic SectionU.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States246-227-4000Email:  BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov 

Dominica

Executive Summary

The Commonwealth of Dominica (Dominica) is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  The Government of Dominica strongly encourages foreign direct investment, particularly in industries that create jobs, earn foreign currency, and have a positive impact on its citizens.  Dominica remains vulnerable to external shocks such as climate change impacts, natural hazards, and global economic downturns.  According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) figures, the economy of Dominica had an estimated GDP of $409.9 million USD (1,107.78 billion Eastern Caribbean dollars) in 2021, which signified a slight recovery from a 15.4 percent contraction in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stagnation of the tourism sector.  The IMF forecasts real GDP growth of 7.9 percent in 2022 and expects GDP to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

The economy also continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.  Losses from Hurricane Maria were estimated at $1.37 billion or 226 percent of GDP.  Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government was primarily focused on reconstruction efforts, with support from the international community.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Dominica has received financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to provide fiscal assistance and macro-economic stability and support in health-related expenditures, loss of household income, food security, and the agricultural sector.

Through its economic policies, the government is seeking to stimulate sustainable and climate-resilient economic growth by implementing a revised macroeconomic framework that includes strengthening the nation’s fiscal framework.  The government states it is committed to creating a vibrant business climate to attract more foreign investment.

Dominica remains a small emerging market in the Eastern Caribbean, with investment opportunities mainly in the service sector, particularly in eco-tourism, information and communication technologies, and education.  Other opportunities exist in alternative energy, including geothermal energy, and capital works due to reconstruction and new tourism projects.

The government provides some investment incentives for businesses that are considering establishing operations in Dominica, encouraging both domestic and foreign private investment.  Foreign investors can repatriate all profits and dividends and can import capital. Dominica’s legal system is based on British common law.  It does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, though it does have bilateral investment treaties with the UK and Germany.

In 2018, the Government of Dominica signed an Intergovernmental Agreement to implement the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Dominica to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 45 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) N/A N/A https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 7,270 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD   

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Dominica has not signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  It benefits from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), which was implemented in January 1984. CBERA is intended to facilitate the development of stable Caribbean Basin economies by providing beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. Dominica has bilateral investment treaties with the UK and Germany.  Dominica has bilateral tax treaties with the United States and the UK.

Dominica is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing and is party to the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 deal on the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges, including a global minimum corporate tax.

Dominica is also party to the following agreements:

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

The Treaty of Chaguaramas established CARICOM in 1973 to promote economic integration among its 15 member states.  Investors operating in Dominica have preferential access to the entire CARICOM market.  The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas established the CSME, which permits the free movement of goods, capital, and labor within CARICOM member states.

Organization of Eastern Caribbean States

The Revised Treaty of Basseterre established the OECS.  The OECS consists of seven full members: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and four associate members: Anguilla, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the British Virgin Islands.  The OECS aims to promote harmonization among member states 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 in 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.

CARIFORUM- EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The European Community and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) states signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008.  CARIFORUM consists of the independent Anglophone CARCOM member states, the Dominican Republic and Suriname. The overarching objectives of the EPA are to alleviate poverty in CARIFORUM states, 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 EPA promotes trade-related developments in areas such as competition, intellectual property, public procurement, the environment, and protection of personal data.

CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK and CARIFORUM signed an EPA in 2019, committing to trade continuity after Britain’s departure from the European Union.  The CARIFORUM-UK EPA eliminates tariffs on all goods imported from CARIFORUM states into the UK, while those Caribbean states will continue to gradually cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.

Caribbean Basin Initiative

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

Caribbean/Canada Trade Agreement

The Caribbean/Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) is an economic and trade development assistance program for Commonwealth Caribbean countries.  Through CARIBCAN, Canada provides duty-free access to its national market for the majority of its products originating in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Dominica work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit to carry out certain specific ministerial responsibilities.  The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown is aware of 20 SOEs currently operating in areas such as tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, solid waste management, and agriculture.  There is no published list of these SOEs.  They are all wholly owned government entities.  Each is headed by a board of directors to which senior management reports.  The SOE sector is affected by financial sustainability challenges, with resources insufficient to cover capital replacement.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  The government encourages philanthropy but does not have regulations in place to mandate such activities by private companies.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; however, government implementation and enforcement of the law is inconsistent.   Members of the political opposition and civil society representatives allege that officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Local media and opposition leadership continued to raise allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program.  Dominica acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2010.  The country is party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.

The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 and the Integrity in Public Office (Amendment) Act 2015 require government officials to account annually for their income, assets, and gifts.  All offenses under the act, including the late filing of declarations, are criminalized.  The Integrity Commission was established to monitor the functions under this Act.  The Integrity Commission’s mandate and decisions can be found at  http://www.integritycommission.gov.dm .  Generally, the Integrity Commission reports on late submissions and on inappropriately completed forms but does not share financial disclosures of officials with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Integrity Commission has not updated documents on its website since 2016.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting corruption offenses, but it lacks adequate personnel and resources to handle complicated money laundering and public corruption cases.

10. Political and Security Environment

Dominica held parliamentary elections in December 2019.  Voting was held under heightened security following weeks of protests and legal challenges seeking electoral reform.  The protests were led by the United Workers’ Party, which lost the election in a landslide to the ruling Dominica Labour Party.

Dominica’s economy was severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  The IMF has projected that Dominica’s GDP will grow 7.9 percent in 2022.  In May 2020, the government unveiled a disaster resilience strategy that was based on three key pillars: structural resilience, financial resilience, and post-disaster resilience.  Both the IMF and the World Bank provided support to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The government last raised Dominica’s minimum wage in June 2008.  It varies according to the category of worker, with the lowest minimum wage set at approximately $1.50 an hour and the maximum set at approximately $2.06 an hour.  The standard workweek is 40 hours for five or six days of work.  The law provides overtime pay for work in excess of the standard workweek.  Dominica has a labor force of approximately 32,630, with a literacy rate of 95 percent.

The local state college largely meets the country’s technical and training needs.  There is also a small pool of professionals to draw from in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, business, information technology, and accounting.  Many of the professionals in Dominica trained in the United States, Canada, the UK, or the wider Caribbean, where many of them gained work experience before returning to the country.

The labor legislation in Dominica is applicable to all employees and employers.  There are no waivers or exceptions regarding the application of labor laws and standards in Dominica.

Employers usually advertise job vacancies in local newspapers.  The government recommends that the advertisement be placed on three separate occasions to ensure transparency and equal opportunity for Dominican residents to apply.  The Embassy is not aware of any instances of government interference with the employer’s right to make hiring determinations.

The Labor Contract Act stipulates that an employee shall receive a contract from his/her employer within 14 days of engagement outlining the terms and conditions of employment.

The labor laws clearly regulate and define layoffs and the conditions under which layoffs can occur.  Severance by redundancy is also regulated by law.  People employed for three years or more qualify for severance pay.  Social security benefits are payable only when the employee reaches retirement age.

The Industrial Relations Act provides for and regulates trade unions in both public and private sectors.  Dominican law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, the right to strike, and the right of workers to bargain collectively with employers.  The government generally enforces laws governing worker rights effectively, and penalties generally were sufficient to deter violations.  Administrative and judicial procedures are not generally subject to lengthy delays or appeals.  Government mediation and arbitration are free of charge.  The law prohibits anti-union discrimination by providing that employers must reinstate workers who file a successful complaint of illegal dismissal, which can cover being fired for engaging in union activities or other grounds of wrongful dismissal. Employers generally reinstated or paid compensation to employees who obtained favorable rulings by the ministry following a complaint of legal dismissal.

Collective bargaining is permitted in all firms (both public and private) where the employees are unionized.  A copy of the collective bargaining agreement must be filed at the Ministry of Labor.  There are no sectoral collective agreements.  All unionized firms are obliged by law to negotiate terms and conditions of employment of all workers, whether or not they are members of a trade union.  Dominica ratified all of the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s eight core conventions on human rights and labor administration.

The government deemed emergency, port, electricity, telecommunications, and prison services employees, as well as banana, coconut, and citrus fruit cultivation workers “essential,” deterring workers in these sectors from going on the strike.  The ILO noted the list of essential services is broader than international standards.  Nonetheless, in practice essential workers conducted strikes and did not suffer reprisals.  The procedure for essential workers to strike is cumbersome, involving appropriate notice and submitting the grievance to the labor commissioner for possible mediation.  These actions are usually resolved through mediation by the Office of the Labor Commissioner, with the rest referred to the Industrial Relations Tribunal for binding arbitration.

The Industrial Relations Act also mandates the establishment of the Industrial Relations Board and the Industrial Relations Tribunals as dispute resolution mechanisms.  The Division of Labor acts as the first arbitrator with matters of investigation, mediation, and conciliation.  Matters are referred only to the tribunals by the minister when conciliation fails or by request of any of the disputing parties.

Enforcement is the responsibility of the Labor Commissioner within the Ministry of Justice, Immigration and National Security.  Labor laws provide that the labor commissioner may authorize the employment of a person with disabilities at a wage lower than the minimum rate to enable that person to work.  The Employment Safety Act provides occupational health and safety regulations that are consistent with international standards.  Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment and the authorities effectively enforced this right in practice.

The informal economy plays a significant role in the labor market and economy of Dominica. The IMF has estimated that the informal economy averaged 46 percent of GDP over the 2011-2019 period. Nearly forty percent of informal sector workers were in wholesale and retail trade, with another 24 percent in manufacturing, 9 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and 29 percent in other industries. Despite the significance of the informal economy in Dominica, there is little evidence of its impact on contracts or access to industries of interest to U.S. and other foreign investors.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2020 $503.7 2020 $504.2 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $0 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 66.8% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report

* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/dashboard-datas/ .

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
246-227-4000
Email:  BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov 

Grenada

Executive Summary

Grenada’s legal framework for business is strong. The country is a parliamentary democracy, has a functioning court system, relatively low crime rates, and no political violence. The presence of a comprehensive investment incentive regime, stable economy, existing trade agreements, responsive investment promotion experts, and a robust citizenship by investment program contributes to a healthy and attractive investment climate. However, Grenada’s tourism-driven economy was severely impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unparalleled challenges for Grenada by creating macroeconomic instability that threatened to undermine years of consecutive socio-economic progress since 2013. The government’s main revenue earners – tourism and international education — were severely impacted and continue to struggle amidst efforts to revive the economy. Growth in construction, private sector projects, and the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program is fueling economic activity and forecasted to drive recovery in 2022. Following a 13.8 percent decline in growth during 2020, Grenada experienced a slower-than-expected real GDP growth of 4.8 percent compared to an initial projection of 6 percent. Grenada’s recovery is driven by growth in several sectors including construction (22.8 percent), agriculture (12.5 percent), wholesale and retail (4.4 percent), and financial intermediation (3.5 percent). Tourism and private tertiary education, which once accounted for more than 60 percent of GDP, continues to lag, but the government hopes for an uptick as students return to classes and tourists resume travel.

Government finances remain significantly lower than the 2019 pre-pandemic era, but 2021 saw some positive developments compared to 2020. Revenue collection in 2021 surpassed that of 2020 but remained below 2019 performance. Grenada continues to depend on the country’s citizenship by investment program as a significant source of revenue generation. At the end of October 2020, the program received 437 applications compared to 303 the previous year. By the end of 2021 the CBI program earned more than $55.4 million in revenue – a 40 percent increase compared to the previous year. The debt-to-GDP ratio fell from 108 percent in 2013 to just under 60 percent by the end of 2020. Due to an increase in borrowing and long-term concessionary loans to finance the country’s COVID response, the debt to GDP ratio currently stands at 69 percent.

The government of Grenada has a strong interest in climate resilient initiatives, renewable energy, and developing the blue economy (broadly defined as the sustainable, environmentally sensitive use of ocean resources for economic growth and job creation). Other international investments include projects in construction, manufacturing, retail, duty free outlets, and agriculture. Parliament continues to review legislature governing value added tax, property transfer tax, investment, excise tax, customs (service charge), and bankruptcy and insolvency. The government has an innovative investment incentives regime which assists with streamlining bureaucratic and legal processes to increase the attractiveness of FDI and improve the ease of doing business in Grenada. This regime ensures transparency, equitable treatment of investors, and adherence to the rule of law, thus bolstering Grenada’s marketability as an investor-friendly climate.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 52 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $41M – Outward

(D) – Inward

https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD $9,410 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Grenadian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are legislatively established by acts of Parliament. These enterprises all have boards of directors appointed by the government and answerable to the relevant ministries. Twenty-five of the 28 authorized SOEs are operational. They secure credit on commercial terms from commercial banks. SOEs submit annual reports to the Government Audit Department and are subject to audits shared with their parent ministries. SOEs manage transportation infrastructure (ports and airports), housing, education, hospitals, cement production, investment promotion, and small business development, among other functions. Generally, where they compete with the private sector, they do so on an equal basis.

Grenada, like its neighbors, acknowledges the OECD guidelines. Corporate governance of SOEs is established and regulated by founding statutes. Local courts show no favoritism toward SOEs in the adjudication of investment disputes.

For additional information on SOEs in Grenada see:http://www.oecd.org/countries/grenada/

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), interchangeably used with responsible business conduct, is a concept that was introduced to Grenada relatively recently by multinational and regional corporations. Local businesses are slowly incorporating this principle into their operations.

Some social responsibility initiatives undertaken by the private sector and non-governmental organizations include education programs, fitness programs, sporting activities, and cultural endeavors. These are predominantly implemented by the telecommunication companies Digicel and LIME, along with financial institutions. There is also a recent push towards environmentally friendly business practices and development projects.

While firms that promote CSR are more favorably viewed by the community, there is little familiarity with international CSR standards. Activities are deemed to be responsible business conduct if they are lawful, not a threat to national security, and not detrimental to the environment, health, and culture of the Grenadian people. Other than this being a requirement for any company operating in Grenada, CSR is not built into the laws governing the operations of a company.

There has been no high profile, controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights or resolution of such cases in the recent past. Grenada generally enforces domestic laws in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. Local labor unions play a role in promoting and monitoring responsible business conduct. Grenada uses private security companies but is not a signatory to The Montreux Document or the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers.

There are no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct, that foreign businesses should be aware of, and neither has there been claims in the last five years by indigenous or other communities that a government entity improperly allocated land or natural resources, or arrests of and/or violence against environmental defenders.

9. Corruption

Grenada is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. The Integrity in Public Life Act (Act No.24 of 2013) requires that all public servants report their income and assets to the independent Integrity Commission for review. The Integrity in Public Life Commission monitors and verifies disclosures, although disclosures are not made public except in court. Failure to file a disclosure should be noted in the Official Gazette. If the office holder in question fails to file in response to this notification, the commission can seek a court order to enforce compliance.

The Office of the Ombudsman received 29 complaints in 2020, compared to 59 in 2019 and 64 in 2018. Of the 29 complaints, one was closed, 12 are ongoing, 7 received advice/referrals, and 9 were outside the jurisdiction of the ombudsman. Private entities received the highest number of complaints totaling 9, followed by the Ministry of Labor with 6. Of the 9 complaints, advice/referrals were given to 3, and 6 were beyond the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. Of the 6 complaints against the Ministry of Labor, 3 are ongoing, 2 received advice/referrals and1 was beyond the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

Bribery is illegal in Grenada. For the most part, the enforcement of anti-bribery laws and procedures is effective and non-discriminatory.

Grenada is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The country accepted and acknowledged the UN Convention against Corruption but has not yet signed or ratified it.

U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI in Grenada.

10. Political and Security Environment

Grenada has a stable parliamentary representative democracy free from political violence. There have been no examples over the past ten years of damage to projects and/or installations.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Grenada signed and ratified all the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) recommendations and enshrined these rights into its labor laws, including the Labor Relations Act No.1 of 1999 and the Employment Act No. 1 of 1999. Grenadian law protects the right of workers to be represented by a trade union of their choice.

Employers are generally expected to recognize a union that represents most workers but are not obligated to recognize a minority union if most of the workforce does not belong to said union. In accordance with the Trade Union Recognition Act No 29 of 1979, investors shall grant union representation at any site of employment if most employees indicate the desire for union representation. Investment enterprises are also required to contribute to the social insurance and welfare programs for their workers in accordance with the National Insurance Act.

The Ministry of Labor may refer disputes regarding workers in essential services to compulsory arbitration. Essential services include employees of utility companies, public health, and protection sectors, including sanitation, airport, seaport, and dock services.

Grenada does not restrict the legal activities of trade unions. Most of the workforce is unionized, and labor relations are generally stable.

Article 32 of the Employment Act prohibits employment of children under the age of 16 except for temporary holiday employment. Part 7 of the Employment Act provides for the protection and regulation of wages, and article 52 mandates the minimum wage. Minimum wage schedules are set by occupation. In the second quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate was 28.4 percent compared to 15.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2019. In 2020, more than 14,000 jobs were lost from a labor force of approximately 50,000 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the tourism sector.

There have been strikes in the past year, but none posed an investment risk, and negotiations toward a satisfactory resolution continue. There are no gaps in compliance in law or practice with international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors. No potential gaps were identified in law or in practice with international standards by the ILO.

No new labor-related laws or regulations were enacted during the last year, and no bills are pending.

The government does not legally define the informal sector and there is no data on the number or percentage of persons in this sector. Street vendors, agricultural workers, farmers, construction workers, and domestic workers are often considered small/micro businesses and were protected by wage, hour, and occupational safety and health laws.

14. Contact for More Information

Breanna L Green
Deputy Political and Economic Counselor, U.S. Embassy Grenada
Tel: (246) 227-4000
Email: GreenB2@state.gov 

Rachér Croney
Political & Economic Specialist
Tel: (473) 444-1173
Email: croneyrr@state.gov 

Contacts for Investment-Related Inquiries:

Ronald Theodore
CEO, Grenada Investment Development Corporation
Tel: (473) 444-1035
Email: Invest@grenadaidc.com or rtheodore@grenadaidc.com
Website: www.grenadaidc.com 

Cathyann Alexander-Pierre
Senior Specialist, Investment Promotion Agency
Grenada Investment Development Corporation
Tel: (473) 444-1033-35, Ext.-236
Email: calexander@grenadaidc.com 

Guyana

Executive Summary

Guyana is located on South America’s North Atlantic coast, bordering Venezuela, Suriname, and Brazil, and is the only English-speaking country on the continent. Guyana became an oil producing nation in 2019 and, with a population of 782,766, is poised to dramatically increase its per capita wealth. While it is currently the third poorest country in the western hemisphere, Guyana’s economy grew by 19.9 percent in 2021. Guyana’s economy is projected to grow by 47.9 percent in 2022 according to the Ministry of Finance, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Guyana’s is poised for strong economic growth over the next decade as its offshore oil and gas production quickly ramps up to over 1 million barrels per day (bpd), an unprecedented development pace for a country that just discovered commercially viable hydrocarbon resources in 2015. ExxonMobil, the majority shareholder in the consortium (which also includes Hess and the China National Offshore Oil Company) developing Guyana’s offshore oil and gas deposits, increased its estimate for commercially viable oil deposits in Guyana to over 10 billion barrels in October 2021. Industry experts expect Guyana’s total recoverable oil deposits to increase as exploration activities expand to other offshore blocks, which remain unexplored. To manage the windfall from oil and gas production, the Government of Guyana (GoG) amended its sovereign wealth fund legislation in December 2021, thereby opening its coffers for the government to spend most of the fund’s initial balance on needed infrastructure and energy developments and invest in the country’s healthcare and education systems.

Guyana is quickly transforming into a regional destination for international investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Guyana increased from $1.8 billion in 2020 to $4.3 billion in 2021, mainly due to investments in its oil and gas sector. In an effort to diversify the economy away from oil and gas, the GoG is offering incentives for investment in the agriculture, business support services, health, information technology manufacturing and energy sectors, especially in outlying regions, through the Guyana Office for Investment (GOINVEST). At the same time, processes including the government tender process are slow and often opaque, with some tenders expiring and being re-issued after a year passes without decision and no pro-active communication to U.S. bidders.

The GoG lifted most of its COVID-19 domestic restrictions on February 14, 2022, thanks to a significant drop in COVID cases.  Proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 PCR, or approved antigen, test taken with 72 of travel are still required to enter Guyana. The Ministry of Health (MoH) reports that more than 60 percent of Guyana’s adult population is fully vaccinated, as are 44 percent of children ages 12 – 17. While the GoG remains wary of future variants, the government has indicated a strong resistance to resuming containment and mitigation efforts like mask mandates, nationwide curfews, and strict quarantine requirements.

Climate change presents a clear and present danger to Guyana, especially in its low-lying coastal regions where 90 percent of the population lives. According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2021 report, Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is forecasted to be under water by 2030 due to rising sea levels. To assist the country’s transition to a more climate resilient economy, the GoG is revising its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which seeks to create financial incentives for maintaining the country’s intact forests covering 87 percent of the landmass, watersheds, and unique biodiversity. The strategy is expected to be tabled in parliament in mid-2022 for approval and adoption.

The GoG’s 2022 priorities include significant infrastructure investments, energy developments, improving healthcare services, diversifying and expanding agriculture sector, boosting sea and flood defenses, supporting emerging and value-added industries, and improving the business climate. Key challenges to Guyana’s development include high crime rates, some of the highest cost of electricity in the region, lengthy delays for permits, and access to land. Despite commitments from the GoG to ease regulatory hurdles and improve the business climate, Guyana’s Ease of Doing Business ranking continues to hover at 134 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 report.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 87 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2015 178 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 7,130 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Guyana has ten state-owned enterprises (SOEs) including: National Industrial and Commercial Investments Ltd. (NICIL), Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), MARDS Rice Complex Ltd., National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Guyana Power and Light (GPL), Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Guyana National Newspapers Ltd. (GNNL), Guyana National Shipping Corporation (GNSC) and Guyana National Printers Ltd. (GNPL).

The private sector competes with SOEs for market share, credit, and business opportunities. It is common for SOEs in Guyana to experience political interventions, driven by boards of directors filled with political appointees. Procurement on behalf of SOEs may be passed through the National Procurement and Tender Administration or handled directly by the SOE.

The Public Corporation Act requires public corporations to publish an annual report no later than six months after the end of the calendar year. These reports must be audited by an independent auditor.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Compared to responsible business conduct (RBC) norms in North America and Europe, Guyana-based businesses lag in adopting RBC policies and activities. However, there is increasing awareness of expectations for responsible business conduct. Guyana does not have a policy to encourage RBC. Most companies conform to their business responsibilities outlined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including human rights and labor rights, information disclosure, environment, bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition, and taxation. Guyana’s laws align with the guidelines for RBC by the OECD. Despite these improvements, Guyana has human rights concerns, especially involving child labor in outlying regions and in the mining sector. The GoG enforces human rights laws but many report a lack of capacity to adequately enforce human and labor rights law

Local companies have improved RBC as firms react to increased levels of competition, partly to compete or subcontract with companies in the oil and gas sector that emphasize it.  Guyanese consumers are increasingly aware of RBC principles as the population becomes more sensitized. The GoG has expressed hope that large multinational companies will lead the way on RBC practices, setting an example for smaller local firms to follow, particularly in the extractive industries sector.  Guyana joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as a candidate country in October 2017.  Guyana is not a signatory of the Montreux Document.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corrupt practices by public officials. The relevant laws enacted include the Integrity Commission Act, State Assets Recovery Act, and the Audit Act. Notably, the Integrity Commission Board expired in February 2021, with no appointments made as of March 2022. Several media outlets reported on government corruption in recent years, and it remains a significant public concern.  Guyana has regulations to counter conflict of interests in the award of contracts. Media and civil society organizations continued to criticize the government for being slow to prosecute corruption cases.  The government passed legislation in 1997 that requires public officials to disclose their assets to an Integrity Commission prior to assuming office.  There are no significant compliance programs to detect bribery of government officials. Guyana’s Integrity Commission was re-constituted in February 2018 after a 12-year hiatus, but only collects reports of asset declarations and lacks any ability to investigate suspected irregularities, complaints, or issues. The Integrity Commission can only flag asst declarations for investigation by other authorities.

Widespread concerns remain about inefficiencies and corruption regarding the awarding of contracts, particularly with respect to concerns of collusion and non-transparency.  In his 2020 annual report, the Auditor General noted continuous disregard for the procedures, rules, and the laws that govern public procurement system.  There were reports of overpayments of contracts and procurement breaches.  Nevertheless, the country has made some improvements. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Guyana ranked 87 out of 180 countries for perceptions of corruption, falling 4 spots in comparison to 2020.

Companies interested in doing business in Guyana may contact a “watchdog” organization (international, regional, local nongovernmental organization operating in the country/economy that monitors corruption, such as Transparency International) for more information:

10. Political and Security Environment

Guyana has a high crime rate, and violence associated with drug and gold smuggling is on the rise. The country peacefully transitioned to a new government on August 2, 2020, after a 20 month-long extra-constitutional and electoral crisis, which saw few instances of politically incited violence. The GoG has committed to electoral reform in the wake of the 2020 electoral crisis to avoid future electoral impasses.

The security environment in the country continues to be a concern for many businesses. Businesses considering investing in Guyana are strongly encouraged to develop adequate security systems.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Guyana’s labor market is tightening due to high investments in the oil and gas sector. In 2017, the total population aged 15 and above residing in Guyana was 550,831. In the first quarter of 2021, the labor force participation rate was 51.1 percent. Unemployment stood at 15.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021. A concerning trend is an increase in youth unemployment, jumping from 30.2 percent in the first quarter 2020 to 31.4 percent in first quarter 2021. Guyana has witnessed an influx of Venezuelan migrants which predominantly work in mining areas and in the restaurant industry. The Ali implementation of LCA adds pressure on an already tight labor market by offering legal protections and incentives for Guyanese companies to service the oil and gas sector, further fueling the flight of labor and investment to the industry. Guyana has a national insurance scheme, but social safety net programs do not exist for the general population. Strikes are common in the sugar industry and may vary with the public sector during collective bargaining sessions. Guyana has a significant informal economy, accounting for a range of 30 and 50 percent of the job market, this is in part attributable to many Guyanese pursuing self-employment in unregulated jobs. In April 2022, GoG leadership suggested there was a labor shortage and they planned to draft a new migration policy.

Local legislation governing labor in Guyana includes the National Insurance Act, Guyana Labour Act, Occupation Health and Safety Act, and the Termination of Severance and Pay Act.  Guyana’s Human Development Index for 2020 increased to 0.67 from 0.682. Guyana’s literacy rate is estimated at 90%. There is an ongoing push for information and communications technology curriculum in Guyana’s schools to develop a talent pool for the industry.

Guyana has one of the highest emigration rates, 89 percent, in the world for nationals with a university degree. A significant number of businesses report challenges with staff recruitment and retention.  These issues are linked to a small pool of semi-skilled and skilled workers.  Companies entering Guyana should consider training and capacity building opportunities for their employees.

The 1997 Trade Union Recognition Act requires businesses operating in Guyana to recognize and collectively bargain with the trade union selected by a majority of its workers.  The government, on occasion, has unilaterally imposed wage increases. Guyana adheres to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention, protecting worker rights.  The public sector has a minimum monthly wage of approximately $350 while the private sector minimum wage is slightly lower at $300.

14. Contact for More Information

Brian Hall
Political and Economic Counselor

Benjamin Hulefeld
Economic and Commercial Officer

Richard Leo
Economic and Commercial Specialist

Embassy of the United States of America
100 Duke and Young Streets, Kingston
Georgetown, Guyana
Telephone: + (592) 225-4900-9 Ext. 4220 and Ext. 4213
Fax: + (592) 225-8597
Email:  commercegeorgetown@state.gov 
https://gy.usembassy.gov

Haiti

Executive Summary

Haiti, one of the most urbanized nations in Latin America and the Caribbean region, occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Haiti’s investment climate continues to present both important opportunities and major challenges for U.S. investors. With a market economy, ample arable land, and a young population, Haiti offers numerous opportunities for investors.  Despite efforts by the Haitian government to achieve macroeconomic stability and sustainable private sector-led and market-based economic growth, Haiti’s investment climate is characterized by an unstable national currency (Haitian gourde, or HTG), persistent inflation, high unemployment, political uncertainty, and insecurity. The global outbreak of the coronavirus and resulting slowdown of economic activity, the August 2021 earthquake in the south of Haiti, the assassination of the Haitian president, and increasingly emboldened criminal actors further complicated the Haitian government’s capacity to achieve macroeconomic stability, create jobs, and encourage economic development through foreign trade and investment. In the absence of a functioning parliament and prior to President Moise’s assassination in July 2021, the Haitian government had taken additional steps to regulate commercial activity by presidential decree, with sudden regulatory changes the business community viewed as detrimental to a functioning market. As a free market system, the Haitian economy traditionally relies on its agricultural, construction, and commerce sectors, as well as the export-oriented apparel assembly industry. Although the business climate is challenging, Haiti’s legislation encourages foreign direct investment. The government has prioritized building and improving infrastructure, including boosting energy production, and has additionally designated agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism as key investment sectors. The Haitian investment code provides the same rights, privileges, and equal protection to local and foreign companies. Under Haitian law, Haiti’s business climate affords equal treatment to all investors, including women, minorities, and foreign nationals.

Haiti continues to face significant challenges and civil unrest. With no dates yet announced for national elections, it is anticipated that political uncertainty and a short-term economic policy focus will complicate the workings of an already opaque bureaucracy. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has publicly announced the imminent formation of a new Provisional Electoral Council to organize elections and a National Constituent Assembly to reform the constitution. While the country maintains a liberal trade and foreign exchange regime, and largely adheres to World Bank programs to fight poverty, continuing reports of corruption and financial mismanagement have raised challenges for investment.

The Government of Haiti (GoH) Post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan (PREPOC 2020-2023) includes the textile sector as one of the most important means for achieving economic transformation and diversification over the next three years. Since its launch in January 2021, the Investment Opportunity Generation Project has tried to support the industry through targeted business information as well as transactional support to increase business opportunities for investors and manufacturers. Despite the negative impact of the pandemic, most companies in the sector currently operates near full capacity.

According to the World Investment Report 2021 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to Haiti fell to $30 million in 2020 from $75 million the year prior – a 60 percent decrease and the lowest level since United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) began recording FDI inflows using a consistent methodology in 2010. Inflation remains above target because of weak domestic production, a deepening government budget deficit mostly financed by monetization from the Central Bank, food price pressures, and the depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the U.S. dollar. The Haitian Central Bank (BRH) assesses that inflation is also caused by deteriorating security conditions, with armed gangs blocking key transport thoroughfares and cutting off Haiti’s southern departments from markets in Port-au-Prince and the North. The rise in commodity prices on the international market also increases the country’s import bill and amplifies inflationary pressures. Haiti’s net international reserves were $520 million at the end of March 2022. Improving the investment outlook for Haiti requires political and economic stability underscored by the enactment of institutional and structural reforms that can improve Haiti’s business and political environment. The International Monetary Fund projects a 0.3 percent growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022.

Monthly inflation was recorded at 0.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively in January and February 2022. Year-on-year, the inflation rate reached 25.2 percent in February 2022. The Central Bank assesses the implementation of a realistic budget and better coordination between fiscal and monetary policies through adherence to an economic and financial governance pact could limit the monetary effect in the fueling of inflationary pressures.

Haiti is ranked 170 out of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Program’s 2020 Human Development Index. The World Bank’s latest household survey in 2012 reported that over 6 million Haitians live on less than $2.41 per day, and more than 2.5 million fall below $1.12 per day.

The reports of damage from the 2021 earthquake indicate that nearly 54,000 houses were destroyed and 83,770 other buildings, including schools, health facilities, and public buildings, were damaged. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, made available on December 12, 2021, estimated the total recovery needs from the earthquake to be $1.98 billion, which is equivalent to 13.5 percent of Haiti’s 2020 GDP.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 164 of 180 https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2021/index/hti 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 179 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings 

In September 2021, World Bank Group management decided to discontinue the Doing Business report 

Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $29.0M https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $1,320 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The Haitian government owns and operates, either wholly or in part, several State-Owned Enterprises (SOE). The Haitian commercial code governs the operations of these SOEs. The sectors include food processing and packaging (a flourmill), construction and heavy equipment (a cement factory); information and communications (a telecommunications company); energy (the state electricity company, EDH); finance (two commercial banks, the Banque Nationale de Crédit and the Banque Populaire Haïtienne); and the national port authority and the airport authority. The law defines SOEs as autonomous enterprises that are legally authorized to be involved in commercial, financial, and industrial activities. All SOEs operate under the supervision of their respective sectorial ministry and are expected to create economic and social return. Today, some SOEs are fully owned by the state, while others are jointly owned commercial enterprises. The Haitian parliament, when it is functioning, has full authority to liquidate state enterprises that are underperforming. The majority of SOEs are financially sound. However, EDH receives substantial annual subsidies from the government to stay in business.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of responsible business conduct among producers and consumers is limited but growing, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Irish-owned telecommunications company Digicel, for example, sponsors an Entrepreneur of the Year program and has built 120 schools in Haiti. Natcom provides free internet service to several public schools throughout the country. Les Moulins d’Haiti, partially owned by U.S. firm Seaboard Marine, provides some services, including electrical power, to surrounding communities. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, many firms provided logistical or financial support to humanitarian initiatives, and many continue to contribute to reconstruction efforts. Haiti’s various chambers of commerce have also become more supportive of business ethics and social responsibility programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Haitian, U.S., and other foreign-owned firms donated to prevention and treatment measures.

The Haitian government has not established any incentives to encourage to responsible business conduct.

9. Corruption

Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business in Haiti. U.S. firms have complained that corruption is a major obstacle to effective business operation in Haiti. They frequently point to requests for payment by customs officials in order to clear import shipments as examples of solicitation for bribes.

Haitian law, applicable to individuals and financial institutions, criminalizes corruption and money laundering. Bribes or attempted bribes toward a public official are a criminal act and are punishable by the criminal code (Article 173) for one to three years of imprisonment. The law also contains provisions for the forfeiture and seizure of assets. In practice, however, the law is unevenly and rarely applied.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021 ranked Haiti in the second lowest spot in the Americas region and 164 out of 180 countries worldwide, with a score of 20 out of 100 in perceived levels of public corruption.

The Haitian government has made some progress in enforcing public accountability and transparency, but substantive institutional reforms are still needed. In 2004, the Government of Haiti established the Anti-Corruption Commission (ULCC), but the organization lacks the necessary resources and political independence to be effective. In 2008, parliament approved the law on disclosure of assets by civil servants and high public officials prepared by ULCC, but to date, compliance has been almost nonexistent.

In February 2022, the ULCC announced the launch of the anti-Corruption circuit at the Court of Cassation. Made up of magistrates from the Courts of First Instance and Courts of Appeal of Haiti, the anti-corruption circuit aims to strengthen judicial efficiency and put an end to impunity in relation to corruption cases.

Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes (CSCCA) is currently one of Haiti’s few independent government institutions, responsible for reviewing draft government contracts; conducting audits of government expenditures; and clearing all government officials, including those at the political level, to manage public funds. In November 2020, however, the Haitian government published a decree limiting the authority of the Audit Court. The CSCCA had issued three reports in January 2019, May 2019, and August 2020 citing improper management practices by the Haitian government and the alleged wastage of nearly $2 billion of the Petrocaribe funds. Public anger over the Petrocaribe scandal has since burgeoned into a grassroots movement against widespread corruption in Haiti.

The CSCCA publicly calls on Haitian authorities to take measures to influence public expenditure by implementing monitoring and evaluation and consolidating investment expenditure to better assess the effectiveness of public spending. For nearly a decade, the Haitian state has faced a structural deficit in the management of its public resources. Despite many efforts undertaken to improve fiscal performance, the Haitian State is still in a situation of insufficient resources to respond to the pressures exerted on public spending.

Haiti is not a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

10. Political and Security Environment

The U.S. government partners with Haiti in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and enhance public security; pursue economic growth through increased domestic resource mobilization and support for private investment; and strengthen good governance and anti-corruption efforts. President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, 2022, seven months before the end his five-year term. His administration has faced repeated challenges due to frequently changing executive branch leadership, an ineffective parliament followed by a parliamentary lapse beginning in January 2020, legislative elections not being held as scheduled in October 2019, allegations of widespread corruption, weak rule of law, and a deteriorating economy. These factors have hindered both reconstruction efforts and the passage of important legislation. Sporadic protests since mid-2018 have stemmed from a number of factors, including a lack of progress in the fight against corruption and a lack of viable economic options. Haiti’s political situation remains fragile.

Political and civil disorder, such as periodic demonstrations triggered by fuel shortage, increases in fuel prices and worsening insecurity often interrupt normal business operations. Gang violence continues to plague urban centers. Kidnapping, murders, and sexual and gender-based violence by gangs in their struggle to expand their territorial control have a detrimental impact on the population. The Haitian National Police is seeking to improve the effectiveness of its anti-gang operations, take a more balanced approach between prevention and repression, and increase its presence in sensitive areas. The judiciary suffers from serious structural weaknesses, as evidenced by a lack of judges at every level, high absenteeism, executive influence, and increasing numbers of prolonged pretrial detainees. In recent months, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has continued to engage in dialogue with actors from all political backgrounds in an attempt to broaden the consensus around a single, unified vision that would lead to the restoration of fully functional and democratically elected institutions. Although the government has not yet published a revised electoral calendar, momentum seems to be building around an effort to form an inclusive, credible, and effective interim electoral council that would inspire confidence among a critical mass of national stakeholders.

Damage to businesses and other installations frequently occurs as a result of political and civil disorder. Over the past 10 years, multiple incidents of property damage to offices, stores, hotels, hospitals, fuel stations, and car rental companies and dealerships have been reported in the media and to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Property destruction and vandalism ranges from broken windows to arson and looting. Employees and tourists have also been victims of violence. Kidnapping for ransom is a frequent occurrence in Port-au-Prince. While improvements in the Haitian National Police’s technical and operational capabilities have maintained some semblance of order, violent crime, including looting of businesses, remains a serious problem, along with criminal gang control of a number of Port-au-Prince’s marginalized areas.

More information is available at:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Haiti.html

https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-haiti/

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The special legislation of the Labor Code of 1984 establishes and governs labor regulations. Under the Code, the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor enforces the law and maintains good relationships with employers and workers. Normal working hours consist of 8-hour shifts and 48-hour workweeks. In September 2017, the Haitian government passed a labor law to permit three eight-hour shifts in a working day, although this has not been fully implemented for all sectors in Haiti. Workers’ social protection and benefits include annual leave, sick leave, health insurance, maternity insurance, insurance in case of accident at work, and other benefits for unfair dismissal.

Labor unions are generally receptive to investment that creates new jobs, and support from the international labor movement, including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), is building the capacity of unions to represent workers and engage in social dialogue. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is in the process of revising a new labor code that will better comply with international labor standards.

According to U.S. and other companies, relations between labor and management in Haiti have at times been strained. In some cases, however, industries have autonomously implemented good labor practices. In addition to local entities, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has an office in Haiti and operates an ongoing project with the apparel assembly industry to improve productivity through improvement in working conditions. The ILO, with the support of the U.S. Department of Labor, launched Better Work Haiti, a program that was designed to verify compliance with international labor standards and spur job creation in the garment sector.

Since the inception of Better Work Haiti, the garment sector has seen improvement in occupational safety and health across the factories. Employers have increased their efforts to improve chemical safety, and over 95 percent of local factories have initiated policies to create a safer work environment as well as provide good working conditions to garment workers. Wages vary depending on the economic sector. As of February 2022, the minimum wage for the garment sector was 685 gourdes for eight hours of work or (approximately $6.27) in the export-oriented apparel industry. Better Work Haiti’s biannual report found most factories in compliance with the labor law. The most recent report is available at: https://betterwork.org/portfolio/better-work-haiti-23rd-biannual-compliance-synthesis-report/ ort/ .

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Central Bank of Haiti USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Haiti Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2020 $6,255 2021 $5,741 https://mef.gouv.ht/ 
Foreign Direct Investment Central Bank of Haiti USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Total FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) FY2020 $75 2020 $30 https://unctad.org/fr/news/2020-voit-linvestissement-direct-etranger-chuter-de-45-en-amerique-latineen.pdf 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 0.3% UNCTAD data available at
https://stats.unctad.org/handbook/
EconomicTrends/Fdi.html
 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Robert Kemp
Economic Counselor
Embassy of the United States of America
Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Please address email correspondence to PAPECON@state.gov.

Jamaica

Executive Summary

The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) considers foreign direct investment (FDI) a key driver for economic growth and in recent years has undertaken macroeconomic reforms that have improved its investment climate. However, the reform program was stymied by measures implemented to contain the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An early lockdown in the Spring of 2020 helped contain the number of Covid-19 cases but the impact on the economy was severe, with real GDP shrinking by 10 percent. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on public health and the economy, the authorities suspended the fiscal rule for a year and swiftly implemented public health measures and a fiscal package to support jobs and protect the most vulnerable segments of the population. The downturn and the fiscal package resulted in a fiscal deficit of 3.1 percent of GDP in FY2020/21.

The Jamaican economy contracted during fiscal year (FY) 2020/21, underpinned by a near collapse in tourism and travel and weaker disposable incomes. But unlike previous shocks, the country did not experience the usual bouts of macroeconomic instability, suggesting the past decade of economic and legislative reforms are beginning to bear fruit. The Jamaican economy is also recovering from the effects of the pandemic well ahead of regional peers, with economic growth of 7-9 percent projected for FY 2021/22. Robust construction activities, a strong rebound in tourist arrivals, and record remittances, both mostly from the United States, provided the impetus for growth. The expansion in economic activity spurred a rebound in employment, with the unemployment rate falling to a historic low of 7.1 percent. The economic recovery combined with strong fiscal management allowed the government to generate the primary surplus required to reverse the debt to GDP ratio, which is expected to return to the pre-pandemic levels. The economic turnaround also contributed to a general improvement in business and consumer confidence. Notwithstanding, inflation and inflationary expectations are beginning to threaten stability, forcing the central bank to tighten monetary policy.

On March 09, 2022, Fitch Ratings Agency affirmed Jamaica’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B+’ and assigned a stable outlook. Fitch reported that Jamaica’s ‘B+’ rating was supported by a favorable business climate and government efforts to lower the debt to GDP ratio. The agency explained that the country remained susceptible to external shocks, low growth levels, high public debt and a debt composition that exposes the country to exchange rate fluctuations and interest rate hikes. “The Stable Outlook is supported by Fitch’s expectation that having been interrupted by the pandemic, a downward trend in public debt-to-GDP will be underpinned by political consensus to maintain a high primary surplus,” the agency continued.

Jamaica received $366 million in FDI in 2020 (latest available data), a $299 million drop over the previous year. Despite the decline, data from the 2021 UNCTAD World Investment Report showed that Jamaica was the highest FDI destination in the English-Speaking Caribbean. China and Spain were the major drivers of FDI in 2020. Up to the onset of COVID-19, tourism, mining, and energy led investment inflows into the island. Though hard hit by the global pandemic, tourism and mining continued to drive foreign investment. Mineral and Chemicals investments also picked up in 2020. There is a significant host government commitment to mining, tourism, and airport development, which could resume when economic conditions improve. Business process outsourcing (BPO), including customer service and back-office support, continued to attract local and overseas investment. Investments in improved air, sea, and land transportation have reduced time and costs for transporting goods and have created opportunities in logistics.

Jamaica’s high crime rate, corruption, and comparatively high taxes have stymied its investment prospects. The country’s Transparency International corruption perception ranking improved marginally from 74 (2019) to 69 (2020) out of 180 countries. Despite laws that prescribe criminal penalties for corrupt acts by officials, there were still reports of corruption at some ministries and agencies. Measures implemented to address crime continued into 2021, including the continuation of Zones of Special Operations in several high crime areas of the island. While these efforts resulted in lower rates of serious crime in the attendant zones, the measures did not significantly impact the overall murder rate, and Jamaica continues to have one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

With energy prices a major component of the cost of doing business, the government has instituted a number of policies to address the structural impediment. In early 2020, the government published its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), outlining the country’s electricity roadmap for the next two decades. The plan, which has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, projected 1,164 MW of new generation capacity at a cost of $7.3 billion, including fuel cost and the replacement of retired plants. Renewable sources are projected to generate 50 percent of electricity by 2037, with Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), introduced in 2016, providing the lion’s share of the other 50 percent. The increased investment in new generation is expected to increase efficiency and reduce the price of electricity to consumers.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 70 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 29.6 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 USD 145 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 4,670 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

Private entities, whether foreign or domestic, generally have the right to freely establish, own, acquire, and dispose of business enterprises and may engage in all forms of remunerative activity.

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Jamaican SOEs are most prominent in the agriculture, mining, energy, and transport sectors of the economy.  Of 149 public bodies, 54 are self-financing and are therefore considered SOEs as either limited liability entities established under the Companies Act of Jamaica or statutory bodies created by individual enabling legislation.  SOEs generally do not receive preferential access to government contracts.  SOEs must adhere to the provisions of the GOJ (Revised) Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures and are expected to participate in a bidding process to provide goods and services to the government.  SOEs also provide services to private sector firms.  SOEs must report quarterly on all contracts above a prescribed limit to the Integrity Commission.  Since 2002, SOEs have been subject to the same tax requirements as private enterprises and are required to purchase government-owned land and raw material and execute these transactions on similar terms as private entities. 

Jamaica’s Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act (PBMA) requires SOEs to prepare annual corporate plans and budgets, which must be debated and approved by Parliament.  As part of the GOJ’s economic reform agenda, SOE performance is monitored against agreed targets and goals, with oversight provided by stakeholders including representatives of civil society.  The GOJ prioritized divestment of SOEs, particularly the most inefficient, as part of its IMF reform commitments.  Private firms compete with SOEs on fair terms and SOEs generally lack the same profitability motives as private enterprises, leading to the GOJ’s absorbing the debt of loss-making public sector enterprises. 

Jamaica’s public bodies report to their respective Board of Directors appointed by the responsible portfolio minister and while no general rules guide the allocation of SOE board positions, some entities allocate seats to specific stakeholders.  In 2012, the GOJ approved a Corporate Governance Framework (CGF) under which persons appointed to boards should possess the skills and competencies required for the effective functioning of the entity.  With some board members being selected on the basis of their political affiliation, the government is in the process of developing new board policy guidelines.  The Jamaican court system, while slow, is respected for being fair and balanced and in many cases has ruled against the GOJ and its agents.   

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) among many Jamaican companies is a developing practice, with more established companies further along the scale.  In 2013, the government provided additional financial incentives for corporations to support charity work through the Charities Act, under which corporations and individuals can claim a tax deduction on contributions made to registered charitable organizations.  Some large publicly listed companies and multinational corporations in Jamaica maintain their own foundations that carry out social and community projects to support education, youth employment, and entrepreneurship.  

In 2018, the GOJ became party to the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Multilateral Convention, which updates the network of bilateral tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.  GOJ also became signatory to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, effective March 1, 2019, having deposited instruments of ratification in November 2018.  

Recent years have seen increased disputes over bauxite mining rights in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country, an area inhabited by the semi-autonomous Maroon population.  In January 2022, the Jamaican government granted a Jamaican-owned subsidiary of an international firm rights to mine on more than one thousand acres of previously protected land claimed by the Maroons despite protests by community representatives.

9. Corruption

Jamaican law provides criminal penalties for corruption by public officials, however, there is at least circumstantial evidence that some officials engage in corrupt practice.  There were also reports of government corruption in the last couple years and it remained a significant cause of public concern.  Media and civil society organizations continued to criticize the government for being slow and at times reluctant to tackle corruption.

Under the Corruption Prevention Act, public servants can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined as much as USD 100,000 if found guilty of engaging in acts of bribery, including bribes to foreign public officials.  

In 2017, Jamaica passed an Integrity Commission Act that consolidated three agencies with anti-corruption mandates into a single entity, the Integrity Commission, which now has limited prosecutorial powers.  The three agencies are the precursor Integrity Commission, which received and monitored statutory declarations from parliamentarians; the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), which monitored government contracts; and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, which received the financial filings of specified public servants.  A key area of concern for corruption is in government procurement.  However, successful prosecutions – particularly for high-level corruption – are rare.  Three Ministers of government demitted office between 2018 and March 2022, in the wake of corruption allegations.

Corruption, and its apparent linkages with organized crime, appear to be one of the root causes of Jamaica’s high crime rate and economic stagnation.  In 2021, Transparency International gave Jamaica a score of 44 out of a possible 100 on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). 

10. Political and Security Environment

Crime poses a greater threat to foreign investment in Jamaica than political violence, as the country has not experienced any major political violence since the early 1980s.  Violent crime, mostly attributed to gangs, is rooted in poverty, unemployment, social neglect, and transnational crime, including so-called “lottery-scamming”, and is a serious problem in Jamaica.  Gang violence is highly concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods but can occur elsewhere.  The Jamaica Constabulary Force recorded 1,463 murders in 2021, a per capita homicide rate of roughly 50 per 100,000, the highest homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021.  Jamaica also faces a significant problem with extortion in certain urban commercial areas and on large construction project sites.  The security challenges increase the cost of doing business as companies spend on additional security measures.

The U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory (of March 2022) assesses Jamaica at Level 3, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution.  U.S. companies with personnel assigned to Jamaica are strongly advised to conduct security and cultural awareness training. 

Please refer to the Jamaica 2019 Crime and Safety Report from the Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) for additional information (https://www.osac.gov/Country/Jamaica/Detail).

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Jamaica had an estimated labor force of 1.3 million as of October 2021 with an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent.  Women make up 46.2 percent of the labor force and have an unemployment rate of 9 percent.  Unemployment is highest within the 14-19 age cohort.  Most Jamaicans are employed in services including the retail and tourism sectors, followed by construction, transportation, and communications.  Since 1999, more Jamaicans have become trained in information technology and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry currently employs more than 40,000 people.  

Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) show that the number of women securing employment is gradually increasing.  According to STATIN’s October 2021 Labor Force Survey, of the 76,600 additional persons gaining jobs to expand the employed labor force by 6.6 per cent to 1,234,800, women accounted for 43,700.  This out-turn represents 57 per cent of the overall additional jobs generated and pushed the number of gainfully employed females by 8.5 per cent up to 558,600.  While the margin of increase for males was smaller, at 39,900 or 5.1 per cent, the overall number of men in jobs was significantly larger, at 676,200 (https://jis.gov.jm/government/ministries/).

No law requires hiring locals, but foreign investors are expected to hire locals, especially for unskilled and lower skilled jobs.  Under the Work Permit Act, a foreign national who wishes to work in Jamaica must first apply for a permit issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.  The law, which seeks to give first preference to Jamaicans, requires organizations planning to employ foreign nationals to prove that attempts were made to employ a Jamaican national.

The security guard industry adopted the practice of employing workers on extended contracts to avoid some of the cost, including severance, associated with direct employment.  Jamaica does not have a history of waiving labor laws to retain or attract investment and these laws tend to be uniform across the economy.     

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment to respond to market conditions, but there are severance payment requirements if a position is made redundant.  Under the law, there is a distinction between a layoff and a redundancy.  A layoff allows a temporary period without employment for up to four months.  The Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act provides redundancy pay to employees who are let go with at least two years of continuous employment.  There are no unemployment benefits in Jamaica, but low-income Jamaicans have the option of applying for social benefits under a conditional cash transfer program referred to as the Program for Advancement though Health and Education (PATH). 

The law provides for the rights of workers to form or join unions, to bargain collectively, and the freedom to strike.  Trade union membership accounts for about 20 percent of the labor force, although the movement has weakened in recent years.  The law prohibits anti-union discrimination, although it is not uncommon for private sector employers to lay off union workers and rehire them as contractors.  Labor law entitles protections to all persons categorized as workers, although it denies contract workers coverage under certain statutory provisions, such as redundancy benefits.  The law denies collective bargaining if no single union represents at least 40 percent of the workers in the unit.  Unionization is limited in Jamaica’s free zones.      

Jamaica has an Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) to which the Minister of Labor and Social Security may refer disputes unsettled at the local level.    

Jamaica ratified most International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and international labor rights are recognized within domestic law.  Jamaica has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor and established laws and regulations related to child labor, including in its worst forms.  However, gaps still exist in Jamaica’s legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor.  The GOJ is under-resourced for investigations on worker abuse as well as on occupational safety and health checks. 

Jamaica’s workplace policy incorporates all of the recommended practices of the ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS but the legislation to regulate enforcement is yet to be ratified.  In conjunction with the ILO and local stakeholders, the GOJ passed legislation guiding flexible working arrangements. 

The informal economy (encompassing pure tax evasion, the irregular economy and illegal activities) represents a large and growing share of the overall economy.  This growing sector represents a diverse group of enterprises and workers, ranging from local peddlers to relatively sophisticated small entrepreneurs.  Tax evaders reduce revenue the Jamaican tax system would otherwise receive.  Tax evasion therefore contributes to lower levels of government services, higher taxes on the rest of the economy and larger government deficits.  Irregular economic activity is the least virulent portion of the informal economy, and even has beneficial aspects.  Irregular activity generates goods, services and jobs that might otherwise be unavailable.  

14. Contact for More Information

Joe James
Economic/Commercial Officer
kingstoncommercial@state.gov
142 Old Hope Road
Kingston 6, Jamaica
+1 876-702-6000

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Executive Summary

The Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis) is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  The government seeks to facilitate a conducive business climate to attract more foreign investment.  St. Kitts and Nevis remains vulnerable to external shocks such as climate change impacts, natural disasters, and global economic downturns.  According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) figures, the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis had an estimated GDP of $745 million (2 billion Eastern Caribbean dollars) in 2021, after contracting in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impact on the tourism sector.  The IMF forecasts real GDP growth of 10 percent in 2022, effectively reversing this contraction.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced the economic gains St. Kitts and Nevis had made in recent years.  The impact of the pandemic on tourism, a mainstay of St. Kitts and Nevis’s economy that generates over 60 percent of GDP, has had ripple effects across the economy.  The government has introduced measures to protect workers and key economic sectors. After the introduction of vaccines in 2021 the government lifted a strict quarantine for visitors, effectively rebooting the tourism industry.

St. Kitts and Nevis has identified priority sectors for investment.  These include financial services, tourism, real estate, agriculture, information technology, education services, renewable energy, and limited light manufacturing.

The government provides some investment incentives for businesses that are considering establishing operations in St. Kitts or Nevis, encouraging both domestic and foreign private investment.  Foreign investors can repatriate all profits, dividends, and import capital.

The country’s legal system is based on British common law.  It does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  It has a Double Taxation Agreement with the United States, although the agreement only addresses social security benefits.

In 2016, St. Kitts and Nevis signed an Intergovernmental Agreement in observance of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in St. Kitts and Nevis to report banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index N/A N/A http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 476 http://www.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita ($M USD) 2020 19,080 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

St. Kitts and Nevis does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  It has a Double Taxation Agreement with the United States, but this agreement is limited solely to social security benefits.  St. Kitts and Nevis’s Double Taxation Agreements meet Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards, as well as Tax Information Exchange Agreements standards.  St. Kitts and Nevis maintains double taxation agreements with several countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.  It has Double Taxation Conventions (DTCs) with Monaco, San Marino, and some Caribbean Community countries.  St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and is party to the OECD’s October 2021 deal on the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges, including a global minimum corporate tax. St. Kitts and Nevis is also party  to the following agreements:

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in St. Kitts and Nevis work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit to carry out certain specific ministerial responsibilities.  There are currently ten SOEs in St. Kitts and Nevis in areas such as tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, solid waste management, and agriculture.  They are all wholly owned government entities.  Each is headed by a board of directors to which senior managers report.  A list of SOEs can be found at  http://www.gov.kn .

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  The government encourages corporate social responsibility but does not have regulations in place to mandate such activities by private companies.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implements these laws effectively.  Media and private citizens reported government corruption was a problem.

Public officials are not subject to financial disclosure laws.  The Financial Intelligence Unit and the police force’s white-collar crime unit investigate reports on suspicious financial transactions, but these reports were not available to the public.

Government agencies involved in enforcement of anti-corruption laws include the Royal St. Kitts and Nevis Police Force, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Financial Intelligence Unit.  The Financial Intelligence Unit investigates financial crimes, but no independent body has been established to handle allegations of government corruption.

10. Political and Security Environment

St. Kitts and Nevis does not have a recent history of politically motivated violence or civil disturbance. St. Kitts and Nevis’ general elections are constitutionally due in 2025.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

St. Kitts and Nevis has a labor force of approximately 25,000 with a literacy rate of 98 percent.  Local colleges largely meet the country’s technical and training needs.  There is also a large pool of professionals to draw from in fields such as law, medicine, information technology, and accounting.  Many of the professionals in St. Kitts and Nevis trained in the United States, Canada, the wider Caribbean, or the UK, and often also gain work experience before returning to St. Kitts and Nevis.

The government set the minimum wage at $3.31 an hour.  The law provides for a 40-hour workweek and for premium pay for work above the standard workweek.  There is no legal prohibition on excessive or compulsory overtime.  Although not required by law, workers generally received at least one 24-hour rest period per week.  The law also calls for paid holidays and work on rest days to be paid at double the standard rate, as well as equal pay for equal work.

According to the IMF, the informal economy is among the smallest in the region and is estimated to represent no more than 25 percent of GDP. The informal economy has extremely limited impact on contracts, industry access, and other economic aspects that might impact investment opportunities.

Although there is no legislation governing the organization and representation of workers, the constitution speaks to the freedom of association and the right to organize and collective bargaining.  St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions on freedom of association and the right to organize and collective bargaining.  The law permits the police, civil servants, hotel workers, construction workers, and employees of small businesses to organize staff associations.  Staff associations do not have bargaining powers but are used to network and develop professional standards.

Local laws allow labor unions to organize and to negotiate for better wages and benefits for union members.  A union representing more than fifty percent of the employees at a company may apply for the company to recognize the union for collective bargaining.  Companies generally recognize the establishment of a union if the majority of its workers voted in favor of organizing the union, but the companies are not legally obligated to do so.  Collective bargaining takes place on a workplace-by-workplace basis and is not industry-wide.

In practice, but not by law, there are restrictions on strikes by workers who provide essential services, such as the police and civil servants.  The law prohibits anti-union discrimination but does not require employers found guilty of such action to rehire employees who were fired for union activities.  However, the employer must pay lost wages and severance pay.  The ILO Committee of Experts reported in 2015 that workers are not protected against antiunion discrimination during recruitment or on the job.  The ILO provided technical assistance to the government in labor law reform, labor administration, employment services, labor inspection, and occupational safety and health.

The Labor Commissioner mediates all types of disputes between labor and management.  By law, the system of industrial relations in St. Kitts and Nevis allows for labor grievances through a process of conciliation and mediation by the Department of Labor and the Commissioner, an independent hearing, arbitration, and finally a court of law.  In practice, however, few disputes go to the Commissioner for resolution.  If neither the Commissioner nor the Ministry of Labor can resolve the dispute, the law allows a case to be brought before a civil court.

The law does not provide remedies for labor law violations, and the Ministry of Labour does not provide information on the adequacy of resources, inspections, and penalties for violations.  Penalties are outdated and fines are insufficient to deter violations.  The Department of Labour provided employers with training on their rights and responsibilities.

Investors in St. Kitts and Nevis are responsible for maintaining workers’ rights and safeguarding the environment.  While there are no specific health and safety regulations, the Factories Act provides general health and safety guidance to Labor Ministry inspectors.  The Labor Commission settles disputes over safety conditions.  Workers have the right to report unsafe work environments without jeopardy to continued employment, and workers may leave such locations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2019 927.4 2019 1,053 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 472 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/topic/investment/
world-investment-report

* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/dashboard-datas/ .

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
St. Kitts and Nevis does not appear in the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS).

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States
246-227-4000
Email: BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov

Saint Lucia

Executive Summary

Saint Lucia is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  Saint Lucia had an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.6 billion in 2020 according to the latest figures obtained from the World Bank.  Tourism is Saint Lucia’s main economic sector, while real estate and transport are other leading sectors. The Saint Lucian economy continues to be impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.  The country has seen a slight economic rebound with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank forecasts 12.1 percent growth in 2022.  The government remains committed to creating a welcoming and open business climate to attract more foreign investment to the country.  Investment opportunities are focused primarily in tourism and hotel development, information and communication technology, manufacturing, international financial services, agribusiness, and creative industries.

The Government of Saint Lucia provides several incentives to encourage domestic and foreign private investment.  For example, foreign investors in Saint Lucia can repatriate all profits, dividends, and import capital.

The Saint Lucia legal system is based on the British common law system, but its civil code and property law are greatly influenced by French law.  Saint Lucia does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States but has bilateral investment treaties with the United Kingdom and Germany.

In 2014, the Government of Saint Lucia signed an Intergovernmental Agreement in observance of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Saint Lucia to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 42/180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 433 http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita ($M USD) 2019 10,950 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Saint Lucia work in partnership with ministries or under their remit, carrying out specific ministerial responsibilities.  There are 39 SOEs in Saint Lucia operating in areas such as tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, solid waste management, and agriculture.

SOEs in Saint Lucia do not generally pose a threat to investors.  The Saint Lucian government established most SOEs with the goal of creating economic activity in areas where it perceives the private sector has very little interest.  SOEs are wholly owned government entities and are headed by boards of directors to which senior management reports.  A list of SOEs in Saint Lucia is available at  http://www.govt.lc/statutory-bodies .

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Saint Lucia’s government and citizens are known to engage in responsible business conduct.  The private sector typically engages in projects that benefit society, and support environmental, social, and cultural causes.

9. Corruption

Most locals and foreigners do not view corruption related to foreign business and investment as a major problem in Saint Lucia.  There are, however, isolated reports of allegations of official corruption, particularly among customs officials.  Local laws provide for access to information.  The law also requires government officials to present their financial assets annually to the Integrity Commission.  While authorities do not make public the disclosure reports filed by individuals, the commission submits a report to parliament each year.  The commission lacked the ability to compel compliance with the law, and as a result, compliance was low.

The Parliamentary Commissioner, Auditor General, and Public Services Commission are responsible for combating corruption.  Parliament can also appoint a special committee to investigate specific allegations of corruption.  The country is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2011.

Saint Lucia has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, notably the Integrity in Public Life Act of 2004.  Government agencies involved in enforcement of anti-corruption laws include the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Integrity Commission, and the Financial Intelligence Unit.

10. Political and Security Environment

Saint Lucia is considered politically stable and does not have a recent history of political violence.  Elections are peaceful and considered generally free and transparent.  The next election is constitutionally due in 2026.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

There is no formal national minimum wage in Saint Lucia, though a government-appointed minimum wage commission recommended establishing a minimum wage.  The legislated workweek is 40 hours, with a maximum of eight hours per day.  Overtime hours are at the discretion of the employer and the agreement of the employee.  Pay is time-and-a-half for work over eight hours and double for work on Sundays and public holidays.  Workers paid monthly are entitled to a minimum of 14 paid vacation days after one year.  Workers paid on a daily or biweekly schedule have a minimum of 14 vacation days after 200 working days.

Special legislation covers work hours for shop assistants, agricultural workers, domestic workers, and workers in industrial establishments.  Labor laws, including occupational health and safety standards, apply to all workers whether they are in the formal or informal sectors.

Under the Foreign National and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Regulation, anyone outside of the OECS wanting to conduct business or be gainfully employed in Saint Lucia must apply for a work permit.  Applications can be obtained from the Labor Department, which is currently under the auspices of the Ministry Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development.

According to the World Bank, Saint Lucia had an estimated labor force of approximately 102,250 in 2020.  The most available literacy rate is of 72.8 percent (2010 census).  The local state college, which offers technical and vocational courses, meets most of the country’s technical and training needs.  There is also a pool of professionals to draw from in fields such as law, medicine, business, information technology, and accounting.  Many of the professionals in Saint Lucia trained in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or the wider Caribbean, where many of them gained work experience before returning to the country.

The law, including applicable statutes and regulations, specifies the right of most workers to form and join independent unions, strike, and bargain collectively.  The law also prohibits anti-union discrimination, and workers fired for union activity have the right to reinstatement.

The law places restrictions on the right to strike by workers who provide essential services such as police and fire departments, health services, and utilities (electricity, water, and telecommunications).  Workers in these organizations must give 30 days’ notice before striking.  Once workers give notice, authorities usually refer the matter to an ad hoc tribunal set up under the Essential Services Act.  The government selects tribunal members, following rules to ensure tripartite representation.  The ad hoc labor tribunals try to resolve disputes through mandatory arbitration.  The ministry’s labor commissioner monitors violations of labor law.

The government does not effectively enforce labor laws, and there were insufficient resources for investigation and enforcement of labor standards.  The Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development employed five labor officers (inspectors) who, due to financial constraints, focused mainly on occupational health and safety concerns.  The government sets appropriate occupational safety and health standards.

Violations of the labor code can result in fines of up to $1,371 ($3,704 Eastern Caribbean dollars) and up to two years in prison. The labor department is currently drafting updated legislation to improve enforcement.

Investors in Saint Lucia are responsible for maintaining workers’ rights and safeguarding the environment.  The Labor Commissioner settles disputes over safety issues.  Workers have the right to report or leave unsafe work environments without jeopardy to their continued employment.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2019 2119 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 433 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 11 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 65.7% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report 

* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank –  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/gdp-datas/comparative-report/1 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available; Saint Lucia does not appear in the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS).

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available; Saint Lucia does not appear in the IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS).

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy Bridgetown, Barbados
+1 (246) 227-4000
BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Executive Summary

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  In the most recent available figures from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ 2020 estimated gross domestic product (GDP) was 783 million USD (2.12 billion Eastern Caribbean dollars) in 2020. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is still recovering from the explosive eruptions from La Soufriere volcano in April 2021. Volcanic ash blanketed most of the northern half of the St. Vincent, which includes much of the country’s agricultural districts. This, coupled with the ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, has exacerbated the economic situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The government is hoping that construction projects in the tourism sector and civil infrastructure will provide a much-needed economic boost this year.   The economy might struggle to hit its forecasted growth of around 4.57 percent in 2022, as the agriculture and tourism sectors are impacted by the ongoing pandemic and volcanic reconstruction efforts.

The country seeks to diversify its economy across several niche markets, particularly tourism, international financial services, agricultural processing, scientific and medical research, light manufacturing, renewable energy, creative industries, and information and communication technologies.

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines strongly encourages foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in industries that create jobs and earn foreign exchange.  Through the Invest St. Vincent and the Grenadines Authority (Invest SVG), the government facilitates FDI and maintains an open dialogue with current and potential investors.

The government does not impose limits on foreign control, nor are there requirements for local ownership or ownership in locally registered companies.  The island’s legal system is based on the British common law system.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  It has double-taxation treaties with the United States, Canada, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

In 2016, St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed an intergovernmental agreement in observance of the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 36 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2020 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 7 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita 2019 7,460 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.  The country, however, has bilateral tax treaties with the United States, Canada, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.   In 1989, Germany and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a treaty for the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment.  In 2018, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the UAE concluded an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income and an Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines is also party to the following economic communities and organizations:

Caribbean Community

The Treaty of Chaguaramas established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1973.  Its purpose is to promote economic integration among its 15 member states.  Investors operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have preferential access to the entire CARICOM market.  The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) established the CSME, which permits the free movement of goods, capital, and labor among CARICOM states.  CARICOM has bilateral agreements with Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.  In 2013, CARICOM entered into a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States.

Organization of Eastern Caribbean States

The Revised Treaty of Basseterre established the OECS.  The OECS consists of seven full members (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), and three associate members (Anguilla, Martinique, and the British Virgin Islands).  Guadeloupe signed an accession agreement to the OECS in 2019.  The purpose of the Treaty is to promote harmonization among member states in foreign policy, defense and security, and economic affairs.  The six independent countries and Montserrat ratified the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union, which entered into force in 2011.  The Economic Union established a single financial and economic space within which goods, services, and people move without hindrance.

CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) and the European Community signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008.  The overarching objectives of the EPA are to alleviate poverty, promote regional integration and economic cooperation, and foster the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy by improving trade capacity and creating an investment-conducive environment.  The EPA promotes trade-related developments in areas such as competition, intellectual property, public procurement, the environment, and the protection of personal data.

CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK and the CARIFORUM states signed an EPA in 2019, committing to trade continuity after Britain’s departure from the European Union.  The CARIFORUM-UK EPA eliminates all tariffs on all goods imported from CARIFORUM states into the UK, while those Caribbean states will continue to gradually cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.

Caribbean Basin Initiative

The Caribbean Basin Initiative facilitates the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies.  It promotes economic development through private sector initiatives in Central America and the Caribbean by expanding foreign and domestic investment in non-traditional sectors, diversifying country economies, and expanding their imports.  The Caribbean Basin Initiative provides beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods.  It permits duty-free entry of products manufactured or assembled in St. Vincent and the Grenadines into 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 most products originating in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are several state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operating in the following sectors: water, transportation, housing, transportation (ports), electricity, tourism, information and communication, telecommunications, investment and investment services, financial services, fisheries, agriculture, sports and culture, civil engineering, and infrastructure.

SOEs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are wholly owned government entities.  They are headed by boards of directors to which senior managers report.  They are governed by their respective legislation and do not generally pose a threat to investors, as they do not have a mandate to compete with private-sector companies.  There is no single published list of SOEs, though information about individual SOEs is available.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The government and the public view responsible business conduct positively.  The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  Individuals benefit from business-sponsored initiatives when employees of local and foreign-owned enterprises volunteer and when companies make monetary or in-kind donations to local causes.

The NGO community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental, and community projects.  The government sometimes partners with NGOs and generally encourages philanthropy.

There are no alleged or reported human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct of which foreign businesses should be aware.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implements these laws.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a signatory to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, but not to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has the authority to prosecute a number of corruption-related offenses.  Corruption allegations are investigated by the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.  There is generally no statutory standard obligation for public officers to disclose financial information to a specific authority.  If confiscation proceedings are initiated or contemplated against a corrupt official, the courts can order disclosure of financial information.  The Financial Intelligence Unit has the authority to conduct financial investigations with a court order.

The law also provides for public access to information.  Only a narrow list of exceptions outlining the grounds for nondisclosure exists, but there is no specific timeline for relevant authorities to make the requested response or disclosure.  There are no criminal or administrative sanctions for not providing a response and there is no appeal mechanism for review of a disclosure denial.

10. Political and Security Environment

St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a recent history of politically motivated violence or civil disturbance.  Elections are peaceful and regarded as being free and fair.  The next general elections are constitutionally due in 2025.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

According to the World Bank, St. Vincent and the Grenadines had an active labor force of approximately 54,945 persons in 2020.  The government generally enforces labor laws, and penalties are sufficient to deter violations.  The law, including related regulations and statutory instruments, provides for the rights of workers to form and join unions of their choice, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes.  The law also provides that it is lawful to conduct peaceful picketing in contemplation of a trade dispute.  Trade unions and leaders of the trade union movement enjoy a strong voice in the labor and economic affairs of the country.

The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and dismissal for engagement in union activities.  Although the law does not require reinstatement of workers fired for union activity, a court may order reinstatement.

The International Labor Organization has noted with concern the discretionary authority of the government over trade union registration, and the government’s unfettered authority to investigate the financial accounts of trade unions.

The Trade Disputes (Arbitration and Inquiry) Act Chapter 215 provides for establishment of an arbitration tribunal and a board of inquiry in connection with trade disputes and allows provision for the settlement of such disputes.  Labor unions and businesses are generally satisfied with the arbitration panels, which have tripartite representation.  One of the mandates of the Department of Labor is to serve as a dispute resolution mechanism.

The Wages Council Act establishes the Wages Council, which addresses 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 orders for the payment of the wages.  The statutory minimum wages are set out in regulations under the Wages Council Act.  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 time for work done on Sundays and public holidays.

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.  Teachers, police officers, public servants, the Medical Association, industrial workers, and some members of the private sector, especially in financial services, operate under collective bargaining agreements.

The Protection of Employment Act No. 20 of 2003 allows for severance.  Article 27 (1) allows employees to ask that their services be deemed as severed after six weeks of being laid off from work.  There is typically no unemployment insurance or other social security safety net programs for workers laid off for economic reasons.  The government, however, offered limited cash grants to some workers whose employment was impacted by the layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The law provides for a minimum working age of 16.  This provision is generally observed in practice.  Compulsory primary and secondary education policies reinforce minimum age requirements.  The Labor Department has a small cadre of labor inspectors who conduct spot investigations of enterprises and checked records to verify compliance with the labor laws.  These inspectors may refer cases to the police and the public prosecutor’s office for legal action against an employer who employs underage workers.

Investors in the country are responsible for maintaining workers’ rights and safeguarding the natural environment.  Workers have the right to report and/or leave unsafe work environments without risking their continued employment.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2019 $823 2019 825 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 7 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 1 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2019 199.5 UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report 

* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank https://eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/dashboard-datas/ 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
Telephone Number:  +1 246 –227 4000
Email Address:  BridgetownPolEcon@state.gov

The Bahamas

Executive Summary Title

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a nation of islands stretching 760 miles from the coast of Florida to the coast of Haiti. Despite historical and cultural similarities with many Caribbean countries, The Bahamas’ proximity to Florida reenforces its close ties to the United States. Only twenty-nine of its 700 islands are inhabited, and the population is clustered around the two largest cities of Nassau and Freeport. The country has a stable investment climate, democratic tradition, respect for the rule of law, and well-developed legal system. Bahamians’ use of English and frequent travel to the U.S. contribute to their preference for U.S. goods and services. The World Bank classifies The Bahamas as a developed country with a high per capita GDP of $25,194. The Bahamas relies primarily on imports from the United States to satisfy its fuel and food needs, and conducts more than 85 percent of its international trade with the United States. U.S. exports to The Bahamas were valued at $2.9 billion in 2021, giving the U.S. a trade surplus of $2.5 billion.

The Progressive Liberty Party (PLP) returned to power in September 2021 elections. The landslide victory reflected public discontent over the slumping economy and the government’s handling of the pandemic. Both crises highlighted The Bahamas’ dependence on tourism, vulnerability to external shocks, and lack of economic diversification.

The World Bank classifies The Bahamas as a high-income country, which belies the country’s extreme income inequality. Tourism and related services contribute to over 70 percent of the country’s GDP and employs just over half the workforce. However, Hurricane Dorian (2019) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021) devastated the economy and forced tens of thousands out of jobs. A survey of the labor force has not been completed since December 2019, yet government and international agencies estimate unemployment at 20 to 25 percent. Although tourism is on the rebound, it has yet to reach the pre-pandemic level of more than seven million mostly American annual tourists. Financial services is the second most important sector of the economy, accounting for 15 percent of GDP.

To diversify the economy, the government has targeted investment in light manufacturing, technology, agriculture, fisheries, extractive industries, and renewable energy. The government has also committed to digitizing business services and jumpstarting domestic productivity through small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially those operating in non-traditional sectors. Grand Bahama, the most northern Bahamian island, depends less on tourism and has the most diversified economic activity of any island in the country. Its capital, Freeport, is a free trade zone featuring many U.S.-owned businesses.

The Bahamas’ economic future depends on the government’s ability to revive the tourism industry, diversity the economy, attract foreign direct investment, manage debt obligations, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Following two years of pandemic-related government borrowing, spending, and tax concessions, the country has seen recent economic growth credited to rebounding tourism and the lifting of COVID restrictions. The government also reports a strong pipeline of investment proposals in tourism, renewable energy, airport and infrastructure development, mining, and agriculture. The government affirms its support for SMEs (representing 85 percent of registered businesses), with $250 million earmarked to fund entrepreneurial developments over five years. The Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), launched in 2018, has prioritized the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and the reduction of the income gap between men and women.

The Bahamas has leaned on international financial institutions for loans and thus far rejected offers from foreign governments to prop up its economy. International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have voiced concern about The Bahamas’ reluctance to impose additional taxes to address its 96 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. The country does not have corporate, personal, inheritance or capital gains taxes. The government also faces international pressure to improve aspects of its anti-money laundering policies.

The Bahamas is not a member of the WTO and does not offer export subsidies, engage in trade-distorting practices, or maintain a local content requirement. The country has a strict $500,000 dollar minimum on foreign capital investments. The country attracts FDI and over the past decade has benefitted from significant investments in the tourism sector by PRC-based and backed companies. Since taking office, the government has shown its willingness to engage investors from non-traditional markets such as the Middle East. Investments from the United States are primarily in the tourism sector and range from general services to billion-dollar resort developments. U.S. companies have also shown interest in emerging sectors, such as non-oil and renewable energy, niche tourism, extractive industries, and digital technology.

Positive aspects of The Bahamas’ investment climate include political stability, a parliamentary democracy, an English-speaking labor force, a profitable financial services infrastructure, established rule of law, general respect for contracts, an independent judiciary, and strong consumer purchasing power. Negative aspects include a lack of transparency in government procurement, labor shortages in certain sectors, high labor costs, a bureaucratic and inefficient investment approvals process, a lengthy legal disputes resolution process, internet connectivity issues on smaller islands, and energy costs four times higher than in the United States. The high cost of electricity is driven by antiquated generation systems and inefficient diesel power plants. The current government has prioritized infrastructure projects focused on non-oil energy, including a liquid natural gas (LNG) plant and an onshore LNG regasification terminal. The government is also promoting solar energy, particularly on the smaller islands.

Another barrier to investment in the country is the prohibition of foreign investment in 15 sectors of the economy without prior approval from the National Economic Council (NEC). These sectors include commercial fishing, public transport, advertising, retail operations, security services, real estate agencies, and others. Accession to the WTO, which would require opening at least some of these protected areas to foreign investment, is unlikely to take place before 2025.

The absence of transparent investment procedures and legislation is also problematic. U.S. and Bahamian companies report business dispute resolution often takes years and debt collection can be difficult, even with a court judgment. Companies describe the approval process for FDI and work permits as cumbersome and time-consuming. The government passed a Public Procurement Act and launched an e-procurement and suppliers registry system in 2021. While the registry system is in place, the Public Procurement Act has yet to be fully implemented. Companies complain that the tender process for public contracts is inconsistent, and allege it is difficult to obtain information on the status of bids.

The Bahamas scored 64 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2020 (where zero is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 is very transparent). This means The Bahamas is perceived as notably transparent when compared to the 180 ranked countries. However, the country’s score has dropped seven points since 2012. The new administration confirmed its intention to amend several good governance laws, including the Public Procurement Act, but has not provided a timeline. The Bahamas still lacks an Office of the Ombudsman and has not fully enacted its Freedom of Information Act (2017). Legislation to support an Integrity Commission and campaign reform have also been delayed. An independent Information Commissioner, supported by technical and administrative staff, was appointed in mid-2021.

The country grapples with high crime, unemployment, and xenophobia directed towards irregular migrants, especially Haitians. Conservative and patriarchal norms sometimes lead to inequality of opportunity, including for women. Women have raised concerns regarding bureaucratic hurdles to register businesses and cited difficulty in securing financing.

Table 1
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 30 of 180 (rank) http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2020 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2020 46,061   https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 26,070 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness to and Restrictions Upon Foreign Investment

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

The Bahamas has no bilateral investment agreements but has signed tax information exchange agreements with 34 countries, including the United States in 2002. The agreement designates The Bahamas as a qualified jurisdiction and provides U.S. companies tax credits for conventions and related corporate expenses. Tax information exchange agreements signed to date can be accessed via https://www.bahamas.gov.bs/wps/portal/public/International%20Agreements .

The Bahamas was the first country in the Caribbean region to sign the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Agreement (FATCA) with the United States. Since September 2015, The Bahamas has implemented a non-reciprocal, inter-governmental agreement (Model 1B) to satisfy the obligations of the agreement. Additionally, in January 2017, the government implemented the OECD-developed Common Reporting Standard (CRS) through the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Act and has activated exchange relationships with 63 partners ( www.taxreporting.finance.gov.bs/ ).

The Bahamas is a signatory to the 2008 Economic Partnership Agreement between the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) and the European Union, and the 2019 Economic Partnership Agreement between CARIFORUM and the United Kingdom. Both agreements provide for the asymmetric liberalization of trade in goods and services between CARIFORUM and the other signatories and include specific commitments on investments and trade-in services. The Bahamas has not yet ratified either trade agreement, but provisionally applies both.

The Bahamas is a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) but does not participate in the single market, single economy, or the customs union. The Bahamas does not have a free trade agreement with the United States but is a signatory to the US-CARICOM Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (2013).

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises are active in the utilities and services sectors of the economy. A list of the 25 SOEs is available on www.bahamas.gov.bs . Key SOEs include Bahamasair Holdings Ltd. (the national airline), Public Hospitals Authority, Civil Aviation Authority, Nassau Airport Development Authority, University of The Bahamas, Health Insurance Authority, Bank of The Bahamas, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC), Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (ZNS), Nassau Flight Services, and the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas.

In April 2019, the government announced plans to introduce a State-Owned Enterprises Bill to impose proper corporate governance and address the risk inefficient SOEs pose to the government’s financial health. The Embassy is unaware of efforts to advance this Bill in 2021. However, a suite of legislation passed in March 2021 aimed at improving the country’s fiscal governance may also improve the performance and accountability of SOEs.

Within the past decade, no SOE has returned profits or paid dividends, although SOEs account for significant government expenditure with approximately $419 million budgeted for fiscal year 2021-2022. The government has maintained SOE reforms are integral to its fiscal consolidation plans and confirmed commitments to reduce subsidies by $100 million annually over the next four years. The savings from SOE reform are expected to assist with meeting additional debt servicing obligations.

The government has permitted foreign investment in sectors where SOEs operate and has approved licenses to private suppliers of electrical and water and sewerage services. These licenses have been issued for private real estate developments or where there is limited government capacity to provide services. The city of Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama has its own licensing authority and maintains monopolies for the provision of electricity, water, and sanitation services.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Local and foreign companies operating in The Bahamas have progressively become more committed to the tenets of responsible business conduct (RBC). Local and foreign companies have led RBC-related initiatives, including educational programs directed at capacity building for specific industries, the maintenance of public spaces, financial and technical assistance to charitable organizations, and commitments to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

There have been no high-profile or controversial instances of corporate violations of human or labor rights, but civil society remains active in bringing attention to social issues. The Bahamas has strong trade unions, and labor laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, creed, sex, marital status, political opinion, age, HIV status, or disability.

The Bahamas does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprise.

9. Corruption

The government’s laws to combat corruption by public officials have been inconsistently applied. The law provides criminal penalties for corruption, and the government generally implemented the law effectively when applied. However, there was limited enforcement of conflicts of interest related to government contracts and isolated reports of officials engaging in corrupt practices, including accepting small-scale “bribes of convenience.” The political system is plagued by reports of corruption, including allegations directing contracts to political supporters and providing favorable treatment to wealthy or politically connected individuals. In The Bahamas, bribery of a government official is a criminal act carrying a fine of up to $10,000, a prison term of up to four years, or both.

The current administration has accused the former administration of inappropriate spending and misappropriation of millions of dollars, particularly during the state of emergency issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Power (COVID-19) Regulations, passed in March 2020, granted widespread powers to the government during the state of the emergency. For example, the legislation allowed the government to bypass normal spending rules and procurement processes, although it did require the government to present Parliament with reports of contracts and pandemic-related funding within six weeks of the expiration of the state of emergency. Despite the state of emergency expiring and being extended several times throughout 2020 and 2021, the former administration failed to report. The Emergency Power Regulations expired for the final time without extension in October 2021.

The new administration has called into question several contracts awarded to companies and individuals by the former administration under the Emergency Power Regulations and has ordered forensic audits of government ministries and agencies. Initial findings suggest significant misappropriation of funds. The former administration admitted it failed to report but denies allegations of corruption. The new administration also accused the former administration of $821 million in undisclosed liabilities and unfunded obligations identified in the former administration’s pre-election report. The former administration denies these allegations, explaining the reporting irregularities were due to differences in accounting methodologies.

As of April 2022, no criminal charges have been filed against members of the former government for these corruption allegations. The current government pledged any decision to prosecute would be supported by independently collected and verified evidence.

The Public Disclosure Act requires senior public officials, including senators and members of Parliament, to declare their assets, income, and liabilities annually. For the 2021 deadline, the government gave extensions to all who were late to comply. The government did not publish a summary of the individual declarations, and there was no independent verification of the information submitted. The campaign finance system remains largely unregulated with few safeguards against quid pro quo donations, creating a vulnerability to corruption and foreign influence.

In September 2021, the government enacted the Public Procurement Act (2021), which overhauls the administration of government contracts to improve transparency and accountability. Senior government officials have called for the legislation to be amended to reflect government capabilities and strengthened with new regulations. Though functional, most agencies with large procurement budgets do not utilize the existing e-procurement portal or registry. Senior Officials purport that the existing e-procurement portal requires modernization to improve functionality.

According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, The Bahamas ranked 30 out of 180 countries with a score of 64 out of 100. There are no specific protections for NGOs involved in investigating corruption. U.S firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI and have reported perceived corruption in government procurement and in the FDI approvals process.

The government does not, as a matter of government policy, encourage or facilitate illicit drug production or distribution, nor is it involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of illicit drugs.  No charges of drug-related corruption were filed against government officials in 2021.

The Bahamas ratified major international corruption instruments, including the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in 2000, and has been a party to the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) since 2001. The Bahamas is not party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

10. Political and Security Environment

The Bahamas has no history of politically motivated violence and, barring a few incidents leading up to general elections in 2021, the political process is violence-free and transparent. The 2021 incidents were minor and included damage to political party installations and billboards, social media harassment, and altercations between political party supporters.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The labor force is considered well-educated by international literacy and numeracy standards, and both skilled and unskilled labor is readily available. Although a formal Labor Force Survey has not been completed since December 2019 when the unemployment rate was 10.7 percent, government and international agencies estimate the 2021 unemployment rate at 20 to 25 percent due to the pandemic. The National Statistical Institute expects to complete the next Labor Force Survey in May 2022.

Under normal conditions, wage rates are lower than in the United States but higher than most countries in the region. The minimum wage is $5.25 per hour ($210 per week), although the government is considering increasing the wage to $6.25 per hour ($250 per week). There are significant numbers of documented and undocumented foreign workers. There are 40,000 registered work permit holders in The Bahamas, and the majority are designated as unskilled or semi-skilled. This group is comprised primarily of Haitian nationals.

The Bahamian government has granted special permission to several construction projects to bring in foreign workers. These concessions were negotiated as part of the Heads of Agreement for specific, large-scale investments. In most other cases, the employment of foreigners requires applying for individual work permits. Bahamian labor law governs all workers, both foreign and domestic.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires at least one 24-hour rest period per week, paid annual vacations, and employer contributions to National Insurance (Social Security). The Act also requires overtime pay (time and a half) for working more than 40 hours a week or on public holidays. A 1988 law provides for maternity leave and the right to re-employment after childbirth. The Minimum Labor Standards Act, the Employment Act, Health and Safety at Work Act, Industrial Tribunal and Trade Disputes Act, and the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act were passed in 2001 and early 2002. Foreign workers also have the right to social security benefits after five consecutive years of contributions.

Bahamian law grants labor unions the right to free assembly and association and to bargain collectively. The unions and associations exercise these rights extensively, particularly in state-owned industries. The Industrial Relations Act governs the right to strike, which requires a simple majority of union members to vote in its favor. The Ministry of Labor oversees strike votes and manages overall industrial relations. Industrial unrest occurred throughout 2021 due to the effects of the pandemic and longstanding issues such as outstanding industrial agreements and delayed promotions. Demonstrations were organized by the Bahamas Public Services Union, the Union of Public Officers, the Nurses Union, the Doctors Union, the Consultant Physicians Staff Association, the Bahamas Educators and Managerial Union, Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union, the Union of Tertiary Educators, and the Union of Teachers.

In 2016, the government amended legislation to require employers to inform the Minister of Labor in instances where more than ten people were being laid off.

The Bahamas ratified most International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and domestic law recognizes international labor rights. The Department of Labor’s Inspection Section has been strengthened to investigate occupational safety and health issues, including both on request and random inspections. The country is committed to eliminating the worst forms of child labor, and the Ministry of Labor has periodically inspected grocery stores and other establishments where child labor in commonplace to ensure the enforcement of laws governing child labor.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2019 13,164 2019       21,433,000 https://data.worldbank.org/country/bahamas
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2020 N/A 2020      46,061 BEA data available at

https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/factsheet.cfm

Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) 2020 N/A 2020         1,944 BEA data available at

https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/factsheet.cfm

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020   N/A 2020 N/A UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/w

orld-investment-report

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Political-Economic Section
U.S. Embassy Nassau
New Providence, The Bahamas
P.O. Box N-8197
Telephone: (242) 322-1181
Email: NassauCommercialDL@state.gov 

Trinidad and Tobago

Executive Summary

Trinidad and Tobago (TT) is a high-income developing country with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $15,425 and an annual GDP of $21.6 billion (2020). It has the largest economy in the English-speaking Caribbean and is the third most populous country in the region with 1.4 million inhabitants. The International Monetary Fund predicts GDP for 2022 will increase by 5.4 percent as the economy rebounds following the economic impact of COVID-19 mitigation. TT’s investment climate is generally open and most investment barriers have been eliminated, but stifling bureaucracy and opaque procedures remain.

Energy exploration and production drive TT’s economy. This sector has historically attracted the most foreign direct investment. The energy sector usually accounts for approximately half of GDP and 80 percent of export earnings. Petrochemicals and steel are other sectors accounting for significant foreign investment. Since the economy is tethered to the energy sector, it is particularly vulnerable to fluctuating prices for hydrocarbons and petrochemicals.

Since the last ICS, TT has rolled back several pandemic-related measures that affected the investment climate including reopening borders to air travel; ending the state of emergency that only permitted essential services to operate; reopening the hospitality and entertainment sector to vaccinated individuals; and reopening schools.

TT is working towards implementing its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Climate Agreement through 15 percent reduction is emissions from power generation (including by the ongoing construction of utility-scale renewable power generation plants), public transportation (through the conversion to compressed natural gas as a fuel, and development of an e-mobility policy) and industry by 2030. The TT government (GoTT) is developing policies on carbon capture and storage, but this technology has been predominantly used to inject carbon into hydrocarbon reservoirs for greater output.

There are no significant risks to responsibly doing business in areas such as labor and human rights.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 82 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
Global Innovation Index 2021 97 of 132 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 $ 4,974 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 $ 15,420 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

6. Financial Sector

7. State-Owned Enterprises

TT has 55 SOEs comprised of 43 wholly owned companies, eight majority-owned, and four in which the government has a minority share. SOEs are in the energy, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, financial services, transportation, and communication sectors. Information on the total assets of SOEs, total net income of SOEs and number of people employed by SOEs is not available. The Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance appoints directors to the boards of state enterprises, reportedly at the direction of the Minister of Finance. SOEs are often informally or explicitly obligated to consult with government officials before making major business decisions. According to TT’s constitution, the government is entitled to:

  • exercise control directly or indirectly over the affairs of the enterprise
  • appoint a majority of directors of the board of directors of the enterprise; and
  • hold at least 50 per cent of the ordinary share capital of the enterprise.

A published list of SOEs for 2022 can be found here: https://www.finance.gov.tt/2021/10/04/https-www-finance-gov-tt-wp-content-uploads-2021-10-state-enterprises-investment-programme-seip-2022-pdf/ 

In sectors that are open to both the private sector and foreign competition, SOEs are sometimes favored for government contracts, which might negatively impact U.S. investors in the market.

The country has not adhered to the OECD corporate governance guidelines for SOEs.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is general awareness of expectations of, and standards for, responsible business conduct (RBC), including obligations to proactively conduct due diligence to ensure businesses are doing no harm, including with regards to environmental, social, and governance issues.

The GoTT has not put forward a clear definition of responsible business conduct, nor does it have specific policies to promote and encourage it. The GoTT has not conducted a national action plan on RBC, nor does it currently factor it into procurement decisions.

There are five reports of forced labor in the last 12 months. There are no reported claims in the last five years by indigenous or other communities that a government entity improperly allocated land or natural resources.

There have not been any high-profile, controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights.

TT has laws to ensure protection of human rights, labor rights, consumers, and the environment. Enforcement, however, is lacking due to staffing shortages, capacity issues, and a bureaucratic judiciary.

The GoTT, in collaboration with civil society, created the TT Corporate Governance Code, which incorporates governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. The code, however, is not mandatory.

The Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in TT that freely advocates for responsible business conduct and improved corporate governance practices in the Caribbean.

The GoTT does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. There are no domestic measures requiring supply chain due diligence for companies sourcing minerals originating from conflict-affected areas.

As a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the GoTT publicly declares annually all revenues received from companies engaged in the extractive industries. The companies, in turn, publicly declare payments to the government.

TT is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.

9. Corruption

Various pieces of legislation address corruption of public officials:

  • The Integrity in Public Life Act requires public officials to disclose assets upon taking office and at the end of tenure.
  • The Freedom of Information Act gives members of the public a general right (with specified exceptions) of access to public authorities’ official documents. The intention of the act was to address the public’s concerns of corruption and to promote a system of open and good governance. In compliance with the act, designated officers in each ministry and statutory authority process applications for information.
  • The Police Complaints Authority Act establishes a mechanism for complaints against police officers in relation to, among other things, police misconduct and police corruption.
  • The Prevention of Corruption Act provides for certain offences and punishment of corruption in public office.

The laws are non-discriminatory in their infrequent application. Effectiveness of these measures has been limited by a lack of thorough enforcement. These laws do not extend to family members of officials or to political parties. TT does not have laws or regulations to counter conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

The GoTT has been a party to the development of corporate governance standards (non-binding) to encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials. Some private companies, particularly the larger firms, use internal controls and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials, although this is not a government requirement.

TT adheres to the UN Anticorruption Convention. There are no protections for NGOs involved in investigating corruption, but investigations are not feared since corrupt actors are rarely punished.

U.S. firms often say corruption is an obstacle to FDI, particularly in government procurement, since TT’s procurement processes are not transparent.

10. Political and Security Environment

While non-violent demonstrations occasionally occur, widespread civil disorder is not typical. There have been no serious incidents of political violence since a coup attempt in 1990.

Subsequent to the closure of state oil firm Petrotrin in November 2018, which resulted in the lay-off of nearly 6,000 workers, there were reports of damage to installations.

Certain areas of TT are increasingly insecure due to a critical level of violent crime.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The labor market includes many skilled and experienced workers, and the educational level of the population is among the top 10 in North America, according to the Human Development Index, although there is a gap between official literacy statistics and functional literacy. In 2020, the International Labor Organization’s estimate of unemployment was 4.5 percent, while youth unemployment rate (15-24 years of age) was estimated at 11.17 percent in 2020. Information on the informal economy is not widely available.

Agricultural employment accounts for 3.6 percent of total employment while employment in services accounts for over 60 percent. The estimated non-agricultural workforce in the informal economy is 10 percent of the overall labor force. TT’s workforce includes not only TT nationals but also citizens of 11 other CARICOM countries as part of the free movement of labor without the need to obtain a work permit. In 2019, TT granted 16,523 Venezuelan refugees and migrants the right to work in the country for a period of one year under a temporary protective status. In 2021, the GoTT allowed registered Venezuelan refugees a one-year extension of status. Some members of the business community have indicated that many migrant workers have returned to their countries of origin due to the unavailability of job opportunities following the pandemic related closures.

TT is a net importer of expatriate labor, including doctors, nurses, construction workers, and extractive industry specialists. There are surpluses of accountants and attorneys and shortages of unskilled workers for the hospitality, retail, and agriculture sectors. The GoTT subsidizes tertiary-level education for citizens whose income falls within a minimum range. The Multi-Sector Skills Training Program provides training in construction and hospitality and tourism for eligible citizens of TT. The GoTT also encourages continuing learning opportunities for the disadvantaged via the Skills Training Program, which develops skills that can aid in the creation of home-based production of goods and services and employment generation.

There is no government policy requiring hiring of nationals, although it is encouraged, particularly in the energy sector.

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment to respond to fluctuating market conditions via severance. Labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. The Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act provides guidance entitlements based on specific circumstances. Severance pay is usually only paid to retirees and workers who have been made redundant. An employer is not required to pay severance to workers if everyone is severed, since the business is being closed. However, if only a portion of the workforce is rendered redundant, the employer must pay severance. Unemployment insurance does not exist for workers who have been laid off for economic reasons, but programs designed to help job seekers get employed as quickly as possible are available. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government instituted a 3-6-month unemployment benefit program for those laid off.

Labor laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investment. There are no separate labor law provisions for special economic zones, trade zones, or free ports.

Collective bargaining is common, with approximately 15 percent of the population covered by collective bargaining agreements. Government workers, including civil servants, police officers, firefighters, military personnel, and staff in several state-owned enterprises, are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Unions are also quite active in the energy, steel, and telecommunications industries. Collective bargaining takes place between the firm and the recognized majority union rather than on an industry-wide basis. The government as an employer also bargains collectively. The process of collective bargaining is regulated by the Industrial Relations Act. There are close to 30 active, independent labor unions in TT.

The Industrial Relations Act provides for dispute resolution through an industrial court in instances where the issue cannot be resolved by collective bargaining or through conciliation efforts by the Ministry of Labor.

There was no strike in the past year that posed an investment risk.

The International Labor Organization has not identified any compliance gaps in law or practice regarding international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors. The GoTT does not have a labor inspectorate system to identify and remediate labor violations, but the industrial court investigates and prosecutes unfair labor practices, such as harassment and/or improper dismissal of union members.

There were no new labor related laws or regulations enacted or in draft over the last year.

14. Contact for More Information

Valerie Laboy
Economic-Commercial Officer
15 Queen’s Park West
Port of Spain, TT
+1 (868) 622-6371 ext. 5926
poscommercial@state.gov