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 FDI, the authorities plan to update the institutional and legal framework to protect investors and eliminate restrictions regarding investment income transfers and control related FDI flows.

The economic outlook remains challenging. The government took on significant debt due to budget imbalances after a decline of international commodity prices of gold and oil and the cessation of alumina mining reduced revenue. Suriname withdrew from its May 2016 International Monetary Fund Stand-By Arrangement (SAF) before substantial progress was made on reforms. After the suspension of the SAF, the government put in place more modest plans to increase taxes and curb spending, and international commodity prices recovered somewhat. Inflation has declined from 55 percent in 2016 to a stable 9 percent during the first quarter of 2018, and foreign currency reserves have increased. The government announced its intention to pass legislation to introduce a new Value Added Tax in July 2018, but in April postponed the implementation date.

The U.S multinational mining company Newmont completed its first full year of operations in 2017, and Canadian mining company Iamgold confirmed significant gold reserves at the Saramacca site extending the life of the mine until at least 2028. Major offshore oil discoveries in neighboring Guyana have raised expectations that similar discoveries will occur in Suriname and further test drilling is expected in 2018. Extractive industries will continue to boost economic activity by increasing revenue, exports, and engagement with the local community.

Suriname joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in May 2017 and should publish its first EITI Report in 2018. 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.

Moody’s downgraded Suriname’s issuer rating to ‘B2’ with a negative outlook, citing weaker fiscal strength reflected in higher debt ratios and declining debt affordability as the main reason for the downgrade. Both Fitch Rating and Standards and Poor’s maintained their ratings after downgrading Suriname in 2017 but raised their outlooks from negative to stable in 2018.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 77 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2017 165 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2017 N/A of 128 https://www.globalinnovation
index.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 N/A http://www.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2016 USD 6,990 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Suriname (GOS) officially supports and encourages business development through foreign and local investment. The overall investment climate favors U.S. investors with experience working in developing countries. Investment opportunities exist in the extractive and agriculture sectors.

With the exception of petroleum, Suriname has no sector-specific laws or practices that discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors, by prohibiting, limiting or conditioning foreign investment. In the oil sector, the state oil company, Staatsolie, maintains sole ownership of all oil-related activities. Foreign investment is possible through exploration and product sharing agreements with Staatsolie. Staatsolie executes oil exploration agreements with foreign firms through a fair and competitive bidding process.

The Investment Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS), established in 2013 to foster economic development through investment, has closed. The GOS is currently establishing a governmental entity, Investsur, which will be responsible for facilitating investment projects.

Suriname does not have a formal business roundtable or Ombudsman aimed at investment retention or maintaining an ongoing dialogue with investors. Investsur is described in its enabling legislation as easing the administrative hurdles of investing by serving as a one-stop agency for investment promotion, applications by foreign direct investors, dispute resolution, and guiding investors on compliance with any relevant conditions of investment.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic private entities can establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity.

There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control – statutory, de facto, or otherwise. No law requires that domestic nationals own a minimum percentage of domestic companies or that foreign nationals hold seats on the board. No law caps or reduces the percentage of foreign ownership of any private business enterprise.

Except for petroleum, there are no sector-specific restrictions applied to foreign ownership and control. Within the petroleum sector, the law limits ownership to Staatsolie, the state-owned oil company, which maintains sole ownership of all petroleum-related activities. Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) countries do enjoy favored status over other sources of foreign investment, but in practice international firms from beyond the CSME are not denied investment opportunities. An Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union aims to provide European companies better access to Suriname.

Government ministries screen inbound foreign investments intended for the sector of the economy that they oversee. Special commissions screen all necessary legal and financial documents. Screening criteria vary, but are intended to determine a proposed investment’s compliance with local law. However, the screening process is neither public nor transparent, and therefore could be considered a barrier to investment. One stated goal of Investsur is to make this process more transparent.

There is no indication that U.S. investors are especially disadvantaged or singled out by any of the ownership or control mechanisms, sector restrictions, or investment screening mechanisms, relative to other foreign investors.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization conducted an investment policy review of Suriname in 2013 (TRADE POLICY REVIEW SURINAME MINUTES OF THE MEETING Addendum Chairperson: H.E. Mr. Eduardo Muñoz Gómez (Colombia) ). The OECD and UNCTAD have not conducted trade policy reviews of Suriname in the past three years. The Inter-American Development Bank has published a report called Framework for Private Development in Suriname in 2013 (http://www.meetsuriname.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/frame-work-for-private-sector-development-in-suriname.pdf ).

Business Facilitation

The GOS has taken steps to improve business facilitation efforts. Legislation has been drafted on competition policy, limited liability company formation, electronic gazettes to reduce companystartup costs, intellectual property, consumer protection, electronic transactions, and establishing a secured transaction framework. In 2017, Parliament adopted new legislation regarding financial statements and reduction of licensed professions. The authorities also plan to implement procedural reforms to streamline cross-border trade.

The World Bank’s Doing Business report indicates starting a business requires 84 days. The Chamber of Commerce states it can take as little as 30 days. There is no online registration system. Companies must register with the Chamber of Commerce, which provides guidance on registration procedures. At the time of registration, the company needs a local notary’s assent to ratify the company bylaws. For non-residents, the notary also sends a request to the foreign exchange commission for approval. Applicants must obtain a tax number at the registration office of the tax department. Applications then go to the Ministry of Justice and Police and finally to the President for approval.

The government is considering ways to simplify this process. Investsur, the investment promotion agency which is currently under development, may provide a single window registration process in the future for foreign direct investors. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism has hired a consultancy firm to carry out a feasibility study of an electronic single window for importers, exporters, and shipping companies. No changes have been implemented at this time.

Business facilitation mechanisms largely provide for equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities in the economy. Women may be required to provide information on their husband in order to register a business but in practice this requirement is not enforced. The location of business facilitation mechanisms only in the cities can limit access by minorities. Non-governmental organizations and corporate social responsibility programs provide some assistance to women and underrepresented minorities to start-up a business and access to micro-finance.

Outward Investment

The Government does not promote or incentivize outward investment.

The GOS does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad, but there are no specific mechanisms in place to promote the practice. Due to the small size of the local market, some domestic companies began expanding a few years ago to CARICOM member states such as Guyana and Trinidad.

Suriname has signed bilateral investment protection agreements with Indonesia, Cuba, and the Netherlands.

There is no current engagement regarding a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Suriname has not signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. The GOS has signed tax treaties with the Netherlands and Indonesia.

The GOS has announced its intention to implement a value added tax. There is no indication of ongoing systematic tax disputes between the government and foreign investors.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Suriname does not use transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition. The National Assembly has delayed its vote on a draft competition law. The Competitiveness Unit Suriname coordinates and monitors national competitiveness and is working towards establishing policies and suggesting legislation to foster competition. Current legislation such as tax, environment, health and safety, or other laws are not purposely used to impede investment, but may still form obstacles. Employment protection legislation is among the most stringent in the world. Labor laws, for instance, prohibit employers from firing an employee without the permission of the Ministry of Labor once the employee has fulfilled his or her probationary period, which by law is limited to two months. Tax laws are criticized for overburdening the formal business sector, while a large informal sector goes untaxed. Many public sector contracts and concessions are not awarded in a clear and transparent manner.

Rule-making and regulatory authority exist within relevant ministries at the national level. Regulation are drafted at the national level in consultation with relevant stakeholders and it is this level of regulation that is most relevant for foreign businesses. After consultation, the government presents draft laws and regulations to the Council of Ministers for discussion and approval. Once approved at this level, the president’s advisory body, the State Council, considers the draft. If approved, the government presents a draft to the National Assembly for discussion, amendment, and approval, and then to the President for signature. Regulation is not reviewed on the basis of scientific or data-driven assessments. Scientific studies or quantitative analyses on the impact of regulations are rarely conducted and/or not publicly available for comment.

There are no informal regulatory processes managed by non-governmental organizations or private sector associations.

Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are outdated and therefore not transparent nor consistent with international norms. Parliament passed the Act on Annual Accounts in 2017 to create more fiscal transparency by requiring all companies, including state owned enterprises, to publish annual accounts based on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The law will go into effect in 2020 in order to provide sufficient time for companies to make changes to their accounting systems. Small and medium sized companies will have until 2021 to complete the transition.

At this time, there is no overarching accounting and auditing legislation that sets a national accounting standard, regulates the accountancy profession, or enforces requirements on financial reporting. There has been neither a requirement for specific accounting standards nor a requirement for auditing unless specifically mentioned in the Articles of Association of the company. Most financial statements prepared in Suriname are based on The Netherlands Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (NL GAAP). However, Suriname’s major domestic corporations and multinational companies operating in Suriname often apply their own standards. Some larger firms use one of the resident international firms such as Deloitte Consulting or BDO International Ltd for their accounting needs.

Draft bills or regulations are discussed with relevant stake holders, but are not made available for public comment.

There is no centralized online location similar to the Federal Register in the United States where key regulatory actions are published. However, the National Assembly publishes the actual text of adopted laws on its website.

It is unclear what the regulatory enforcement mechanisms that ensure the government follows administrative processes might be, as the processes have not been made accountable to the public. The Auditor General’s office is an independent body in charge of supervising the financial management of government funds. The Auditor General’s Office reports to the National Assembly. The Central Accountant Service exercises control on administrative processes at the ministries and reports to the Ministry of Finance.

Some regulatory reforms were announced this year. The Ministry of Labor is considering increasing the minimum wage, which is based on the 2015 minimum wage law. The Central Bank of Suriname revoked condition (VW) 45 and replaced it with condition (VW) 48. According to the new condition, commercial banks can only give credit in foreign currency to companies and persons who have earnings in foreign currency. On September 24, 2017, Parliament passed the Act on Annual Accounts that obligates all companies to publish annual accounts based on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) starting 2020. Small and medium sized companies will have until 2021 to complete the transition.

Regulatory reform efforts announced in prior years have largely not been fully implemented.

International Regulatory Considerations

As a member of CARICOM, Suriname has committed to regionally-coordinated regulatory systems.

Suriname uses national and international standards. Standards developed by other (international/regional) standardization bodies that Suriname utilizes include: ISO, Codex Alimentarius, International Electro Technical Commission, CROSQ, ASTM International, COPANT, SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries), NEN (Nederland Normalisatie Instituut), ETSI, GLOBAL GAP, etc.

Suriname is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) lists one notification from Suriname in 2015.

Suriname has not accepted the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Suriname’s legal system is based on the Dutch civil system. Judges uphold the sanctity of contracts, and enforce them in accordance with their terms. When an individual or company disputes a signed contract, they have the right to take the case to court. The judiciary consistently upholds local law, applies it, and enforces it for local and international businesses. The World Justice Project (2017-2018) ranks Suriname 69 out of 113 countries.

Laws are defined in criminal, civil, and commercial codes and verdicts are based on the judge’s interpretation of those codes. There is no specialized commercial court. The commercial codes contain commercial legislation.

Generally, the judicial system is considered to be independent of the executive branch. With the exception of the December Murders Trial (related to political murders committed in 1982), most observers consider the judicial system to be procedurally competent, fair, reliable, and free of overt government interference. Due to a shortage of judges and administrative staff, processing of civil cases can be delayed.

Draft regulations are reviewed by involved stakeholders, and they can comment on amendments for inclusion before the draft regulation is passed to the National Assembly for approval. Suriname has no general administrative law, so there are no special administrative tribunals. Judges of the regular courts also hear cases of administrative law.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The National Assembly approved the amendment of the commercial code chapter regarding the establishment of a limited liability company in 2016. Parameters addressing enforcement are forthcoming.

By State Decree on March 17, 2017, the GOS implemented the 2001 Investment Act creating Investsur, Suriname’s new investment promotion agency. The agency will create a certification system for investors or investments, forward investment applications to ministers, and advise ministers in determinations on applications. The agency is currently under development.

On September 24, 2017, Parliament passed the Act on Annual Accounts that obligates all large companies to publish annual accounts based on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) starting in 2020. Small and medium sized companies will have until 2021 to complete the transition.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

There are no domestic agencies currently reviewing transactions for competition-related concerns. There is a draft competition bill pending review by the National Assembly. The CARICOM competition commission is based in Suriname, and it monitors potential anti-competitive practices for enterprises operating within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

Expropriation and Compensation

According to Article 34 of Suriname’s constitution, expropriation will take place “only for reasons of public utility” and with prior compensation. In practice, the government has no history of expropriations. However, Article 42 of Suriname’s constitution specifically refers to all natural resources as property of the nation, and states that the nation has inalienable rights to take possession of all natural resources to utilize them for the economic, social, and cultural development of Suriname.

Suriname has no history of expropriations.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Suriname is not a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States (ICSID). Suriname has been a member of the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards since 1964, when the country was still a colony of the Netherlands. Upon becoming independent in 1975, Suriname automatically continued its membership in international conventions and treaties.

There is no specific domestic legislation providing enforcement of awards under the 1958 New York Convention and/or under the ICSID convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The government is a signatory to Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

Suriname has no BIT or FTA with an investment chapter with the United States.

There have been no publicly known investment disputes in the past 10 years involving a U.S person or other foreign investor. Every effort is made to settle investment disputes outside the court system or via arbitration.

Judgments of foreign arbitral awards are enforced by the local courts only if Suriname has a legal treaty of jurisprudence with the foreign country involved. If not, the foreign judgment can be brought before the Surinamese court for consideration as long as the court determines it has jurisdiction and doing so does not otherwise violate any Surinamese laws. With Suriname’s participation and membership in the Caribbean Court of Justice, judgments from this court are also binding for local courts. Cases have been successfully filed against Suriname before the Inter-American Court of Justice and the Organization of American States. Judgments from these courts have been upheld by the Surinamese legal system.

There is no known history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Suriname’s civil law includes options for arbitration. The government reactivated the Suriname Arbitration Institute (SAI) in August 2014 to offer arbitration and mediation services.

The SAI collaborates with the Dutch Arbitration Institute.

Local courts only recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards if doing so is stipulated in the contract or agreement and if doing so will not contradict local law. Foreign arbitration is an accepted means of settling disputes between private parties, but only if local alternatives are exhausted.

There have been no publicly known investment disputes in which state owned enterprises are involved. Court processes are in general considered transparent and non-discriminatory.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Suriname has bankruptcy legislation. Creditors, equity shareholders, and holders of other financial contracts, including foreign contract holders, have the right to file for liquidation of the debtors due to insolvency. In a case where there is a loan from a commercial bank, repayment of the bank loan takes precedence. Bankruptcy in principle is not criminalized. However, in cases where a board of directors encouraged a company to pursue bankruptcy to avoid creditors, courts have viewed these as a criminal offence. In the 2018 World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Suriname stands at 135 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of resolving insolvency.

Suriname does not have a credit bureau or other credit monitoring authority serving the country’s market. A draft bill regarding the establishment of a credit rating bureau is pending.

Investment Incentives

Under current regulations, foreign investors can benefit from both tax and non-tax based incentives. Tax-based incentives include a nine-year tax holiday that can be extended by one year if the investment is at least USD 13 million; accelerated depreciation of assets; and tax consolidation. Under the Raw Minerals Act, the government grants an exemption of duties for the import of raw materials from CARICOM member countries. Exemptions are also granted in the food industry, the soft drink industry, and the fruit juice industry. In 2011, the government eliminated import duties on computers and related items. The law accords special consideration on investments exceeding USD 50 million and investments in the exploration and exploitation of bauxite, hydrocarbons, gold, and radioactive minerals. Large investments in the mining sector are subject to extensive negotiations between the government and investors. The government maintains the ability to grant incentives that depart from the provisions in the investment law, for example, incentives related to the provisions of infrastructure.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

There are no duty-free import zones in Suriname.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

There are no policies that mandate hiring local employment; however, the Work Permits Act prohibits employers from employing foreigners without a work permit granted by the Ministry of Labor.

There are no policies requiring that senior management and board of director members be Surinamese nationals.

There are no excessively onerous visa, residence, or work permit requirements inhibiting foreign investors’ mobility. Foreigners who want to work in Suriname first need to apply for a residency permit at the Ministry of Justice and Police, after which they can apply for a work permit at the Ministry of Labor. The free movement of artists, university graduates, media workers, musicians, and athletes of CARICOM origin is arranged through CSME regulations. CSME regulations also provide for the free movement for those seeking to establish or conduct business within the community.

There are no government/authority-imposed conditions on permission to invest. In practice, large foreign investments, especially in the extractives sector, require approval from the relevant Minister.

The government does not impose forced localization policies on foreign investors.

Foreign IT providers are not required to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption.

There are no measures that prevent or unduly impede companies from freely transmitting customer or other business-related data outside the country’s territory.

There are no mechanisms used to enforce any rules on local data storage within the country.

There are no enforcement procedures for performance requirements on investors.

The 2001 Investment Law authorizes the Minister of Finance to grant both tax and non-tax incentives for new investments and for the expansion of existing investments. Incentives for new investments are on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Ministry of Finance. Incentives are available for both domestic and foreign investors, but investors must apply for these incentives before the initial investment is made.

Real Property

Interest in property is enforced. Mortgages and liens are common. Mortgages are registered with the Mortgage Office.

Non-residents can request to lease land from the government if they have established a company under Surinamese law. However, the process from application to approval is lengthy.

The percentage of land in Suriname that lacks a clear land title remains unknown. There is no sustained effort by the government to identify property owners and register land titles, nor is there a publicly-accessible land title office. Article 1-1 of the L-1 decree, Principles of Land Policy, states that “all land, to which others have not proven their right to ownership, is domain of the State.” Furthermore, Article 41 of the Surinamese constitution states that wealth and resources are property of the nation and shall be used to promote economic, social, and cultural development. There is no effective demarcation of substantial land claims by indigenous people in the interior.

Unoccupied, legally-purchased property cannot be reverted to other owners, such as squatters.

Financial mechanisms for securitization of properties for lending purposes are not available. At present federal, regional and local authorities are not working with any international bodies to develop secured lending capabilities for investors.

Intellectual Property Rights

Suriname is a member of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Right Organization; however, it has not ratified the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Even though Suriname is party to multiple agreements, intellectual property rights (IPR) protections are not enforced. The current legal framework mentions protection of copyright, trademarks, and patents; however, that legislation dates back to 1912 (amended in 2001). Although the National Assembly passed amendments to the Music Copyright Law of 1913 in March 2015, enforcement remains non-existent. Infringement on rights and theft are not uncommon, due to the absence of enforcement.

No IPR-related laws or regulations have been enacted in the past year. A draft IPR bill has been pending since 2015. In the draft IPR law, legislation regarding patents, trademarks, copyrights, and protection of innovations based on geographical indications will be included. Currently, patents and copyrights must be registered abroad since proper legislation does not exist.

Suriname does not track or report on seizures of counterfeit goods. IPR violations are rarely prosecuted.

Suriname is not mentioned in the Special 301 report of 2017.

Suriname is not listed in the notorious market report.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The government does not promote portfolio investment.

There is a small self-regulating stock market with eleven companies registered. It meets twice a month but does not have an electronic exchange. There is no effective regulatory system to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment. At present, Suriname is facing liquidity shortfalls.

Sufficient policies do exist to facilitate the free flow of financial resources.

As an IMF Article VIII member, Suriname has agreed to refrain from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.

Credit is allocated on market terms and at market rates. Foreign investors that establish businesses in Suriname are able to get credit on the local market, usually with a payment guarantee from the parent company. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Larger companies can obtain customized credit products. There is, however, a Central Bank regulation that limits a commercial bank’s credit exposure to a single client.

Money and Banking System

The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments. Larger companies can obtain customized credit products.

According to IMF findings in 2016, the banking sector is broadly resilient to currency depreciation, but a number of individual banks are vulnerable. The Central Bank is in charge of overseeing commercial banks and other financial institutions. The estimated total assets of the Suriname’s largest banks is as follows:

  • DSB Bank (November 2017): USD 1.016 billion;
  • Hakrin Bank (June 30, 2017): USD 466.3 million;
  • Republic Bank Limited (2017 annual report): USD 10.4 billion. (The Republic Bank Limited of Trinidad and Tobago acquired Royal Bank of Canada Suriname’s holdings in 2015. The Republic Bank holdings include assets of local and international holdings).

Suriname has a central bank system.

Foreign banks or branches are allowed to establish operations in Suriname. They are subject to the same measures and regulations as local banks. According to the IMF assessment in 2016, banks in Suriname are among those in the region that have lost their correspondent relationships. IMF notes that though the loss of correspondent banking relationships has not reached systemic proportions, a critical risk still exists. The Central Bank admits that compliance regarding legislation and procedures is lacking and that strengthening of enforcement is needed.

There are no restrictions for foreigners to open a bank account. Banks require U.S. citizens to provide the information necessary to comply with the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Suriname has not announced that it intends to implement or allow the implementation of blockchain technologies into its banking transactions.

Providing micro credits to micro entrepreneurs is a common form of alternative financing and to a lesser extent use of crowdfunding.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors in converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment, such as remittances of investment capital, earnings, loan or lease payments, or royalties.

Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into a usable currency at legal market clearing rates with the permission of the Foreign Exchange Commission. However, the criteria for obtaining permissions are opaque.

The exchange rate is largely determined by commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaus directly with their customers. The national currency rate fluctuates. A parallel black market rate also exists.

Remittance Policies

There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies.

The waiting period on remittances can be relatively short for dividends, return on investments, interest, and principal on private foreign debt, lease payments; royalties, and management fees. The time needed to process the requests depends on the sector and the amount transferred. Transfers through the banking system can range from same day to one week waiting times, contingent upon approval by the Foreign Exchange Commission.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

On May 4, 2017, the National Assembly passed legislation establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). The SWF is expected to begin accumulating mining sector revenues in 2019.

State owned enterprises (SOEs) operate in the agribusiness, mining, communication, travel, energy, and financial sectors. SOEs provide little information regarding their operations. Only a few produce annual reports accessible to the public. Several have been discredited because of fraud and corrupt practices.

There is no public list of SOEs.

SOEs receive advantages when competing in the domestic market. These include access to government guarantees and government loans otherwise unavailable to private enterprises. Additionally, SOEs have access to land and raw materials inaccessible to private entities.

The government does not yet adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.

Privatization Program

The GOS did announce a privatization program largely in the agricultural sector, but the only privatization was the state-owned banana company in 2014. No timeline has been given for privatizations.

Foreign investors can participate in privatization programs. In 2014, the Belgium multinational UNIVEG acquired a 90 percent stake in the state-owned banana company through a public, international bidding process.

The privatization was conducted through an international public bidding process with the assistance of the European Commission. As this is the only successful example of privatization within Suriname, no standard privatization or public bidding processes have been established by the GOS.

There is a growing awareness of expectations of standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) among consumers and producers. Historically, ALCOA’s subsidiary Suralco took the lead on RBC in Suriname and large multinationals continue to be the largest proponents of RBC. Some larger, locally-owned companies also model RBC, including Staatsolie, Surinam Airways, Telesur, and the Fernandes Group of Companies (which includes the Coca-Cola bottling plant and the McDonalds restaurant chain).

The government has not taken measures to encourage RBC, such as promoting the OECD or United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Companies are allowed to develop their own policies and standards. The government does incorporate RBC in some of its partnerships and agreements with multinational firms. For example, recent agreements between Staatsolie and foreign companies for offshore drilling include stipulations regarding RBC. The government has not yet formulated a definition for RBC nor has it established policies to promote or encourage it. The government has no national point of contact or ombudsman for stakeholders to acquire information or raise concerns about RBC. The GOS has not conducted a National Action Plan on RBC and/or Business and Human Rights. It is not known if RBC policies are part of the government’s procurement decisions.

There have been no recent high profile controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights, though indigenous land rights in the interior is an ongoing issue.

The Labor Inspection Department from the Ministry of Labor supervises and enforces the observance of legal regulations regarding the conditions of employment and the protection of employees performing duties. Laws were enforced only in the formal sectors. Labor inspectors did not make regular occupational safety and health inspections. The government is drafting consumer and environmental protection laws.

Currently there is no legislation for corporate governance and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. The Act on Annual Accounts will require companies to publish annual accounts based on the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) starting in 2020.

The Suriname Trade and Business Association has taken the lead in promoting RBC. So far no incidents have been reported indicating that those monitoring and or advocating around RBC cannot work freely.

The host government does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.

Suriname became a member of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative on May 24, 2017.

There are no domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments and/or other RBC/BHR policies or practices.

Suriname has a significant corruption problem. Although the existing legal code penalizes corruption, there is virtually no enforcement. Government officials are occasionally accused of corruption and removed from their current assignment, but none have been convicted in the last six years. On September 1, 2017, Parliament adopted anti-corruption legislation, nearly 15 years after the draft bill was passed to National Assembly. However, in order to be fully operational supporting measures and legislation, such a law on public disclosure, is needed.

Existing laws that deal with corruption do not extend to family members of officials, or to political parties.

There are no laws or regulations to counter conflict-of–interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

The government does not encourage or require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct prohibiting bribery of public officials.

Private companies do not use internal control, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

Suriname has signed and ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. Suriname has not yet signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. Suriname is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

There are no NGOs who focus only on investigating corruption.

U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, the award of licenses, concessions, customs, and taxation.

No local industry nor non-profit groups are offering services for vetting local investment partners.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:
Fraud Department
Suriname Police Force (Korps Politie Suriname)
Havenlaan, Paramaribo, Suriname
(597) 404-943

Since its adoption of the current, democratically-elected government in 1987, Suriname has not seen politically motivated violence or civil disturbance.There is no history of damage to projects or installations in the past ten years.Suriname is increasingly politicized, however elections are considered to be free and fair.

In general, both skilled and unskilled labor is available in the local market. Foreign workers are mainly active in the extractive industries and agricultural sector. Haitian immigrants fill the shortage of laborers in the agricultural sector, which Surinamers avoid because it is labor intensive and pays low wages. Documented foreign workers are protected by labor laws. Current levels of unemployment are difficult to determine because many individuals find employment in the large informal sector. However, anecdotal evidence suggests unemployment is on the rise due to an ongoing contraction of the economy. According to World Bank figures, the youth unemployment rate was approximately 21.8 percent in 2017.

Heavy equipment operators and repairmen in the extractive industries are in high demand. The service sector lacks certified accountants. In recent years Suriname recruited physicians and ER nurses from the Philippines to work in hospital emergency rooms. Because of the economic downturn, the majority of these workers have left the country, resulting in a shortage of nurses.

There are no policies that require the hiring of nationals; however, the Work Permits Act prohibits employers from employing foreigners without a work permit granted by the Ministry of Labor.

Legislation makes it difficult for employers to respond to fluctuating market conditions. The Dismissal Permits Act prohibits employers from dismissing employees without permission from the Ministry of Labor. Collective redundancy for organizational or economic reasons is permitted in cases such as the closure or decline of a business. Generally, when an employee is laid off, unions negotiate with the employer regarding a package and duration of social benefits.

Labor laws are not waived to attract or retain investment. As Suriname has no special economic zones, foreign trade zones, or free ports with alternative labor policies, all entities are subject to existing legislation.

Collective bargaining agreements are wide-spread in both the private and public sector. Data regarding the percentage of the economy covered by collective bargaining agreements was unavailable. Employees of at least one multi-national firm unionized during the year.

Labor dispute mechanisms are in place and freely used for mediation and arbitration.

No strike took place last year that posed an investment risk. The majority of strikes were in the public sector.

Suriname is a member of the International Labor Organization and recognizes international labor law in its domestic legislation. Child labor remains a problem mostly in the informal sector. In the 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor found the government of Suriname made minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worse forms of child labor. Labor laws incorporate freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, along with prohibitions against forced labor, child labor, and employment discrimination. Existing legislation also provides for humane working conditions, occupational safety and health, and standardized working hours. The Labor Inspection Department supervises observance of labor abuses, health, and safety standards. Laws were effectively enforced only in the formal sectors.

A draft bill on child labor is pending.

Suriname qualifies for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The GSP framework includes clauses on labor standards.

There are no OPIC programs.

Suriname signed an Investment Incentive Agreement with the United States in 1993.

The Peoples Republic of China provides significant investment financing in Suriname. In many cases, these projects are funded by China’s Eximbank and completed by Chinese companies.

Investment opportunities are rarely publicly advertised.

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) 2016 USD 3,307 2016 USD 3,278 World Bank
https://data.worldbank.org/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) 2016 N/A 2016 N/A BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Host Country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) 2016 N/A 2016 N/A BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP 2016 N/A 2016 N/A

N/A

* Central Bank of Suriname, www.cbvs.sr 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Suriname does not release foreign direct investment data publically. The IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS) has no information on Suriname. There are no tax haven sources of inward FDI.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio investment data are not available in Suriname on the IMF’s Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey. The host government does not publish portfolio investment data.

Christy Doherty
Economic Officer
U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
(597) 556-700
dohertycs@state.gov

2018 Investment Climate Statements: Suriname
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