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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), as of December 31, 2019, Antigua and Barbuda had an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in market prices of $1.72 billion in 2019, with forecast growth of 6.75 percent in 2020. The economy of Antigua and Barbuda remained buoyant, driven mainly by increased tourist arrivals and ongoing public and commercial construction projects. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these projections have been revised downwards significantly, with expected declines in revenues and increased spending on imports such as medicine, medical equipment, and food. The government has stated it remains committed to improving the business climate to attract more foreign investment and stimulate growth.

In the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, Antigua and Barbuda ranks 113th out of 190 countries rated. The scores remained relatively unchanged from the previous year, but highlighted some improvements in starting a business.

The government strongly encourages foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in industries that create jobs and earn foreign exchange. Through the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA), the government facilitates and supports FDI 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 FDI, 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 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 2019 Not ranked http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 113 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/
en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 Not ranked https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 7.0 http://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 15,890 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Barbados

Executive Summary

Barbados is the largest economy in the Eastern Caribbean.  Barbados’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was USD 5.03 billion in 2018.  The government of Barbados entered into a standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2018.  The USD 290 million Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) program aims to decrease the debt to GDP ratio, strengthen the balance of payments, and stimulate growth in the economy.  While the government met its IMF targets, 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 coronavirus pandemic has reduced the gains that were expected to strengthen Barbados’ economic position in the near term.  The impact of the pandemic on tourism, a mainstay of Barbados’ economy which generates almost 40 percent of GDP, has had ripple effects across the economy.  The IMF agreed to reduce Barbados’ primary surplus targets and to augment its Extended Fund Facility.

Barbados ranks 128th out of 190 countries rated in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report.  The report highlights some positive changes in getting electricity, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts but highlights that registering property has become more difficult.

The services sector continues to hold the largest potential for growth, 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 up land for other agricultural uses.  Investment opportunities exist in the areas of agroprocessing and alternative and renewable energy.  Uncertainty about the recovery prospects of the tourism, commercial aviation, and the cruise industry impacts the potential for projects in those sectors.

Barbados recently revised its tax regime to harmonize its domestic and international tax rates.  This was in response to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) initiative that addressed harmful tax practices.  Some acts were repealed or amended, and some new measures were introduced.  For further details, see https://investbarbados.org/revisedtaxregime.php.

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 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: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 30 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 128 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019  N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 20,368 http://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita (M USD) 2018 15,410 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Dominica

Executive Summary

The Commonwealth of Dominica (Dominica) is located between the French territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles. Dominica is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). Dominica had an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of $596 million in 2019. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, growth was forecast at 5.47 percent for 2020, according to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). However, the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the gains that were expected to strengthen Dominica’s economic position in the near term. Preliminary estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2020 predicted that GDP would instead contract 4.7 percent.

In the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, Dominica ranked 111th out of 190 countries, compared to 103rd the previous year. Over the past three years, Dominica made paying taxes less costly by reducing the corporate income tax rate. However, the 2019 report noted that transferring property became a slower process.

Dominica continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Losses from Hurricane Maria are estimated at $1.37 billion or 226 percent of GDP. The government continues to be focused on reconstruction efforts, with support from the international community. The government is seeking to stimulate sustainable and climate-resilient economic growth through 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 an emerging market in the Eastern Caribbean (EC), with investment opportunities mainly within 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.

Recently, the government instituted a number of investment incentives. Foreign investors in Dominica 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, but has bilateral investment treaties with the UK and Germany.

In June 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: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 48 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 111 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 N/A http://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita ($ M USD) 2018 7,090 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

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.  A comprehensive investment incentive regime, stable economy, existing trade agreements, and responsive investment promotion experts contribute to Grenada’s healthy and attractive investment climate.

Preliminary data for the first half of 2019 indicated that the economy was poised to experience its seventh consecutive year of growth, estimated at 3.2 percent.  Growth in 2019 was fueled by activities in the tourism, education and transportation sectors, in addition to relatively strong performances in the retail and manufacturing sector.  Before the COVID-19 crisis, analysts anticipated that Grenada’s 2020 growth rate would be above the projected 3.6 percent average for the members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  Grenada’s fiscal position was strong, with a projected primary surplus after grants of 6.8 percent of GDP at the end of 2019.  The country’s debt to GDP ratio continued its downward trajectory, moving from 62.7 percent at the end of 2018 to an estimated 55.8 percent of GDP at the end of 2019.  The unemployment rate is approximately 15.2 percent, down from 40 percent in 2013, and average inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index remains at 1 percent.  However, the economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to increase unemployment in the short- to medium-term.

Grenada has experienced a wave of foreign direct investment (FDI), primarily within the tourism sector and through Grenada’s citizenship by investment (CBI) program.  The Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC) approves over 90 percent of applications for investment incentives.  According to the GIDC, Grenada receives an average of $100 million per year in foreign direct investment and $20 million per year in domestic investment.

In 2019, hotels were upgraded and new resorts established.  The Royalton Grenada opened in March 2020.  This growth in Grenada’s room stock is intended to facilitate and promote increased stay-over and cruise passenger arrivals.

The recent discovery of natural gas within Grenadian waters and the government’s interest in exploring renewables is a very important development within the energy sector.  This discovery opens a new and viable area for investment in gas production and export.  Climate resilience initiatives and the blue economy are also areas ripe for investment.  Other international investments include projects in construction, retail, duty-free outlets, and agriculture.

The Grenada parliament made legislative revisions to value added tax, property transfer tax, investment, excise tax, customs (service charge), and bankruptcy and insolvency acts.  The government also launched an innovative Investment Incentives Regime intended to streamline bureaucratic and legal processes.  This new regime promotes transparency, equitable practices, and adherence to the rule of law, thus bolstering Grenada’s marketability as an investor-friendly location.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 53 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 146 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2017
2016
41 (outward)
8 (inward)
http://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD $9,650 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Guyana

Executive Summary

Guyana is located on South America’s North Atlantic coast, bordering Venezuela, Suriname, and Brazil. Guyana is an upper middle-income country according to the World Bank. In 2019, estimated inflation was below 2.5 percent with a 4.4 percent growth Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With the advent of first oil, the Guyanese economy is poised to become one of the best performing economies in the Western Hemisphere with an optimistic projected GDP growth rate in 2020 exceeding 50 percent. In response to COVID-19, the Bank of Guyana anticipated a 10 percent contraction in non-oil sectors for 2020. Guyana’s economy is driven primarily by commodities such as gold, bauxite, rice, and sugar. The United States was Guyana’s largest trading partner in 2019.

Guyana’s medium-term prospects remain positive with the discovery of vast oil reserves in Guyana’s waters that will provide decades of substantial oil revenues. The Government of Guyana (GoG) created a sovereign wealth fund for the oil revenues and plans to spend most of the near-term revenue on education, health, and infrastructure.

Outside the oil industry, Guyana’s economy has been hampered by political uncertainty that started in December of 2018 when the ruling administration fell to a no-confidence vote. Elections were finally held on March 2, but due to various legal and political delays, results were delayed, leaving many foreign investors in a holding pattern. In addition to the political uncertainty, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the government closing the airport to international flights, closing non-essential businesses, and implementing a curfew from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. that resulted in a further contraction of the economy. Despite these challenges, Guyana is still projected to lead the Caribbean in GDP growth for 2020.

The Government of Guyana (GoG) actively encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) and offers tax concessions for priority projects through its Guyana Office for Investment (GO-INVEST). According to the Bank of Guyana’s Half -Year Report for 2019, Guyana’s FDI increased from $514.8M to $826.4M, an increase of 60.5 percent. This growth in FDI was fuelled mainly by developments within the oil and gas sector and all the industries that support it. Guyana recently developed a local content policy to help local companies take advantage of this business sector. Legislation to enforce the preliminary local content policy is still forthcoming, so the impact on oil and gas companies investing in Guyana is unknown.

Guyana offers both foreign and domestic potential investors a broad spectrum of investment choices, including agriculture, petroleum, construction, wholesale and retail, health, transportation, and agro-processing. Furthermore, opportunities exist within the services sector such as renewable energy, business process outsourcing (BPO), call centers, information technology services, hospitality, and tourism. Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America and has a sizeable labor market, creating unique potential for call centers and other industries. The construction, wholesale and retail, transportation, and storage sectors experienced notable growth in 2019.

In 2015, ExxonMobil began exploratory drilling off Guyana’s coast, investing nearly $4 billion into the project thus far. ExxonMobil found recoverable oil in 16 out of 18 attempts and increased its estimate of recoverable oil to 8 billion barrels of -equivalent, with ongoing exploration from several international oil companies.

Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy, which was finalized in May 2019, serves as the guiding document for government priorities under the administration of President David Granger. These priorities include a focus on agriculture, supporting emerging and value-added industries, improving business climate, investing in sea defence, and transitioning to nearly 100 percent renewable energy.

Perceptions of corruption persist in Guyana. Transparency International’s 2019 report scored Guyana at 85 out of 180 ranked economies. One key concern was the insufficient response to a high crime rate. Guyana also ranked 134 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2019 report on Ease of Doing Business. The major shortcomings included a weak judicial system, lack of intellectual property protection, corruption, and bureaucracy.

Guyana continues to benefit from official development assistance from multiple donors with projects focused on health care, education, economic development, climate change adaptation, disaster mitigation, and citizen security.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 85 of 180 https://www.transparency.org/cpi2019
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 134 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index N/A N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A http://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD 4,770 https://data.worldbank.org/
country/guyana?view=chart

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Executive Summary

The Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis) is located toward the top end of the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles, near the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Kitts and Nevis is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  St. Kitts and Nevis had an estimated gross domestic product of USD 952.1 million in 2019. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, growth was forecast at 3.2 percent for 2020, according to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).  However, the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the gains that were expected to strengthen St. Kitts and Nevis’s economic position in the near term. 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. Preliminary estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2020 predicted that GDP would instead contract by 8.1 percent.

St. Kitts and Nevis ranked 139th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report.  The report noted little change in key areas from the previous year.

During the last fiscal year, the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis remained buoyant, fueled by revenue from its citizenship by investment (CBI) program, a robust construction sector, and increased tourist arrivals.  Manufacturing exports grew 169 percent and agricultural output grew 37.5 percent over 2018 levels. St. Kitts and Nevis has reduced its debt to GDP ratio to 44.6 percent, surpassing a target set by the Monetary Council of the ECCB in 2017. The government states it is committed to creating an enhanced business climate to attract more foreign investment.

In 2019, St. Kitts inaugurated its second cruise pier, increasing ship docking capacity. Multiple resorts and hotels prepared to open in 2020, including the Hilton’s KOI Resort Saint Kitts, Ramada Hotel, T-Loft at Wyndham, and Sea View Hotel. St. Kitts and Nevis anticipated these investments would facilitate and promote increased stay-over and cruise passenger arrivals. However, the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism and cruise industries may reduce the expected positive impact of these projects.

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 a number of 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
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 N/A http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 139 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 657 https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita (M USD) 2018 18,340 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Saint Lucia

Executive Summary

St. Lucia is located in the Lesser Antilles in the Eastern Caribbean (EC).  St. Lucia is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).  In 2018, the country had an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 1.33 billion, with a growth of 1.50 percent in 2019.  Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, growth was forecasted at 3.78 percent for 2020, according to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).  However, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced the gains that were expected to strengthen St. Lucia’s economic position in the near term.  The impact of the pandemic on tourism has had ripple effects across the economy.  Preliminary estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2020 predicted that GDP would instead contract 8.5 percent.  There has been a slight decline in the country’s debt to GDP ratio over the past three years, from 65.45 percent in 2016 to 64.28 percent in 2018.  Inflation remains relatively stable at 1.55 percent.  Public sector outstanding debt in 2018 was estimated at USD 1.2 million (3,342,730 million Eastern Caribbean dollars), and is expected to increase in 2020 due to government borrowing to finance pandemic response and recovery efforts.

In the 2020 World Bank’s Doing Business Report, St. Lucia ranked 93rd out of 190 countries.  The report noted minimal changes from the previous report, but some improvement in the ease of starting a business.

St. Lucia attracts foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries.  According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2019 tourism was St. Lucia’s main economic sector, accounting for about 40 percent of GDP and formal employment.  Real estate and transport are other leading sectors.  The government has stated it is committed to creating a welcoming and open business climate to attract more foreign investment.  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 St. Lucia provides several investment incentives to encourage domestic and foreign private investment.  Recent amendments to the International Business Act sought to encourage businesses to locate their head offices in St. Lucia.  Foreign investors in St. Lucia can repatriate all profits, dividends, and import capital.

The St. Lucia legal system is based on the British common law system, but its civil code and property law are greatly influenced by French law.  St. 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 St. Lucia signed an Intergovernmental Agreement in observance of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in St. Lucia to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 55 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 93 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/
en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 394 http://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita (M USD) 2018 9,560 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

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).  According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) statistics as of December 2019, St. Vincent and the Grenadines had an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 825 million in 2019, with forecast growth of 3.4 percent in 2020.  However, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to have far-reaching consequences, notably negative near-term economic growth.  The government has announced an economic recovery and stimulus package.

The country seeks to diversify its economy across several niche markets, particularly tourism, international financial services, agroprocessing, light manufacturing, renewable energy, creative industries, and information and communication technologies.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines ranks 130th out of 190 countries in the 2020 World Bank’s Doing Business report.

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 involvement or ownership in locally registered companies.  The islands’ 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.  However, it does have 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
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 N/A http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 130 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 7 http://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (M USD) 2018 7,340 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Suriname

Executive Summary

The Government of Suriname (GOS) officially supports and encourages business development through local and foreign investment. The overall investment climate favors U.S. investors with experience working in developing countries. To attract foreign direct investment (FDI), authorities have planned to update institutional and legal frameworks to protect investors and eliminate restrictions regarding investment income transfers and control related FDI flows. However, the World Trade Organization’s 2019 Trade Policy Review concluded that Suriname’s investment regime has not changed since its last review in 2013.  The report states that the overall regime, particularly the approval of FDI, may be discretionary rather than rules-based.

The extractives sector has historically attracted significant foreign direct investment, but numerous factors negatively impact the investment climate as a whole. These factors include an unclear process for awarding concessions and public tenders, corruption, institutional capacity constraints, and a lack of overall transparency. Suriname joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in May 2017, but failed to publish its first report and was suspended as of February 2019. The EITI Board reinstated Suriname after it completed its first report in May 2019. Suriname submitted its second report on time, in December 2019.

In January 2020, Apache and Total announced a “significant oil discovery” off the coast of Suriname, followed by a similar discovery in April 2020. Experts estimate that it will take 5-10 years to begin offshore oil production, assuming world oil prices support it. The CEO of state-owned oil company Staatsolie estimates that the government of Suriname could earn $10-$15 billion over the course of 20 years if production reaches similar levels as in neighboring Guyana. U.S.-based Newmont Corporation and Canadian-based IAMGOLD – the two major multinational gold companies in Suriname – expect to produce similar amounts of gold in 2020 as in 2019. On several occasions, local media have reported that Surinamese officials have explored selling a variety of Suriname’s gold and petroleum interests to foreign investors, including the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Although the government has indicated that such talks have taken place, Suriname did not sell any of its interests in offshore oil or gold production.

Public debt has increased. The government’s debt burden reached 75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, up from 43 percent in 2015. In November 2019, the National Assembly raised the country’s debt ceiling from 60 percent of GDP to 95 percent of GDP. In December 2019, Suriname completed a $125 million sovereign bond offering that allowed the government to take ownership of the Afobaka Hydroelectric Dam. In February 2020, the government admitted that it had taken $197 million from the Central Bank for imports, debt payments, and other unspecified purposes. The money came from term deposits and commercial banks’ foreign currency cash reserves, and was reportedly used without their permission or knowledge. The value of the Surinamese dollar has decreased, foreign currency reserves have fallen, and prices on consumer goods have risen. These developments led to a series of downgrades from international credit rating agencies. In January, Fitch downgraded Suriname’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating from B- to CCC. In April, Standard & Poor lowered Suriname’s long-term sovereign credit rating from B+ to CCC+, while Moody’s changed its outlook on Suriname from stable to negative.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 70/180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 162/190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 N/A http://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $13,820 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Trinidad and Tobago

Executive Summary

Trinidad and Tobago (TT) is a high-income developing country with a gross domestic product  (GDP) per capita of $17,320 and an annual GDP of $23.9 billion (2018).  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 2020 to fall by 4.5 percent due to the early 2020 collapse in global energy prices and the economic impact of coronavirus mitigation.  TT’s investment climate is generally open and most investment barriers have been eliminated, but stifling bureaucracy and opaque procedures remain.
Positive aspects of TT’s investment climate:

  • Stable, democratic political system
  • Educated, English-speaking workforce
  • Well-capitalized and profitable commercial banking system and insurance industry
  • Established rule of law
  • Independent judicial system that is substantively fair
  • In certain sectors, lack of domestic competition
  • No foreign ownership limits

Negative aspects of TT’s investment climate:

  • Foreign exchange shortages that delay payments to foreign firms
  • Widespread perception of corruption among public officials
  • Lack of transparency in public procurement
  • Inefficient and complicated government bureaucracy
  • Time-consuming resolution of legal conflicts, such as enforcement of contracts
  • Violent crime

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.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 85 of 183 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 105 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 91 of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 $6,338 http://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $15,950 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD
Investment Climate Statements
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