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
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
The government of St. Lucia strongly encourages foreign direct investment (FDI). Through Invest Saint Lucia, the government introduced several investment incentives for businesses that consider locating in St. Lucia, encouraging both domestic and foreign private investment. Invest Saint Lucia provides “one-stop shop” facilitation services to investors, helping to guide them through the various stages of the investment process.
Applicable government agencies, rather than Invest Saint Lucia, grant investment concessions. Invest Saint Lucia is overseen by the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs. Government policies provide liberal tax holidays, a waiver of import duty on imported plant machinery and equipment and imported raw and packaging materials, and export allowance or tax relief on export earnings. Various laws provide fiscal incentives to encourage establishing and expanding foreign and domestic investment. Invest Saint Lucia also provides investment promotion services.
The St. Lucian government encourages investment in all sectors, but targeted sectors include tourism, smart manufacturing and infrastructure, information and communication technologies, alternative energy, education, and business/knowledge processing operations.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
There is no limit on the amount of foreign ownership or control in the establishment of a business in St. Lucia. The government allows 100 percent foreign ownership of companies in any sector. Currently, there are no restrictions on foreign investors investing in military or security-related businesses or natural resources. However, Invest Saint Lucia assesses investment proposals for viability and in accordance with the laws of St. Lucia. Trade licenses and other approvals/licenses may be required before establishment.
Invest Saint Lucia evaluates all FDI proposals and provides intelligence, business facilitation, and investment promotion to establish and expand profitable business enterprises in St. Lucia. Invest Saint Lucia also advises the government on issues that are important to the private sector and potential investors and advocates for an improved business climate, growth in investment opportunities, and improvements in the international competitiveness of the local economy. They focus on building and promoting St. Lucia as an ideal location for investors, seeking and generating new investment in strategic sectors, facilitating domestic and foreign direct investment as a one stop shop for investors, and identifying major issues and measures geared towards assisting the government in the ongoing development of a National Investment Policy.
The government of St. Lucia treats foreign and local investors equally with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
St. Lucia, as a member state of the OECS, has not conducted a trade policy review in the last three years.
Invest Saint Lucia is the main business facilitation unit for potential investors into St. Lucia. It facilitates FDI in priority sectors and advises the government on the formation and implementation of policies and programs to attract investment. Invest Saint Lucia provides business support services and market intelligence to all investors. All potential investors applying for government incentives must submit their proposals for review by Invest Saint Lucia to ensure the projects are consistent with the national interest and provide economic benefits to the country. Invest Saint Lucia offers an online resource that is useful for navigating the laws, rules, procedures and registration requirements for foreign investors. It is available at http://www.investstlucia.com/.
The Registry of Companies and Intellectual Property office maintains an e-filing portal for most of its services, including company registration. Relevant officials can review applications submitted electronically. However, applicants must pay the registration fee at the Registry office. The Registry of Companies and Intellectual Property office can only accept payment in the form of cash and checks. Personal checks are not accepted. It is advisable to consult a local attorney prior to starting the process. Further information is available at http://www.rocip.gov.lc.
According to the World Bank Doing Business Report for 2020, St. Lucia ranked 69 out of 190 countries in the ease of starting a business. The general practice for starting a business is to retain an attorney to prepare all incorporation documents. A business must register with the Registry of Companies and Intellectual Property Office, the Inland Revenue Authority, and the National Insurance Corporation. The government of St. Lucia continues to support the growth of women–led businesses. The government seeks to support equitable treatment of women in the private sector through non-discriminatory processes for business registration, awarding of fiscal incentives, and assessing investments.
In 2018, the government of St. Lucia embarked on a disability assessment, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, to support the full participation of people with disabilities in the society and the economy. Among other objectives, the assessment seeks to provide data about the engagement of people with disabilities in society and to ensure the equal participation of people with disabilities in the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
The government of St. Lucia prioritizes investment retention as a key component of its overall economic strategy. While the government of St. Lucia is encouraging more domestic savings, it continues to require significant foreign investment to fill the investment gap.
There is no restriction on domestic investors seeking to do business abroad. Local companies in St. Lucia are actively encouraged to take advantage of export opportunities specifically related to the country’s membership in the OECS Economic Union and the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME), which enhance the competitiveness of the local and regional private sectors across traditional and emerging high-potential markets.
2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
St. Lucia does not have a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. St. Lucia has bilateral investment treaties with the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). St. Lucia is also party to the following:
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
The Treaty of Chaguaramas established CARICOM in 1973. Its purpose is to promote economic integration among its fifteen member states. Investors operating in St. Lucia have preferential access to the entire CARICOM market. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas further establishes the CSME, which permits the free movement of goods, capital and labor within CARICOM.
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
The Revised Treaty of Basseterre established the OECS. The OECS consists of seven full members (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines), and three associate members (Anguilla, Martinique, and the British Virgin Islands). Guadeloupe signed an accession agreement to the OECS in March 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 (CARIFORUM) states and the European Community signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2008. The overarching objectives of the EPA are to alleviate poverty, to promote regional integration and economic cooperation, and to foster the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy by improving their trade capacity and creating an investment-conducive environment. The Agreement promotes trade-related development in areas such as competition, intellectual property, public procurement, the environment, and protection of personal data.
Caribbean Basin Initiative
The objective of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) 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 CBI country economies, and expanding their exports. The CBI 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. Lucia 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 in which Canada provides duty free access to its national market for many products originating in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.
St. Lucia has signed taxation agreements with other CARICOM countries. There is no a taxation treaty with the United States, but there is a bilateral Tax Information Agreement.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
The legal framework in St. Lucia seeks to foster competition and establish clear rules for foreign and domestic investors in the areas of tax, labor, environment, health, and safety. The Ministry of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister and Invest Saint Lucia provide oversight on the transparency of the system as it relates to investment. The government offers a range of incentives for foreign investors. The Invest Saint Lucia Act addresses government policy for attracting investment. The Trade License Act, Aliens Licensing Act, Special Development Areas Act, Income Tax Act, Free Zones Act, Tourism Incentives Act, Investment and Stimulus Act, and Fiscal Incentives Act also impact foreign investment. The government announced plans to update these pieces of legislation to ensure that St. Lucia remains compliant with international tax and exchange of information requirements.
Rulemaking and regulatory authority lie with the bicameral parliament. The parliament consists of 17 members elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies to the lower house, and 11 appointed members in the Senate.
Relevant laws govern all regulations relating to foreign investment in St. Lucia. These laws are developed in the respective ministries and drafted by the Office of the Attorney General. Laws that oversee Invest Saint Lucia, the citizenship by investment (CBI) program, and some sector-specific laws such as the Fiscal Incentives Act or tourism-related laws govern FDI. St. Lucia’s laws are available online at http://www.govt.lc.
Although some draft bills are not subject to public consultation, the government often solicits input from various stakeholder groups and via town hall meetings when formulating new legislation. The government also uses public awareness efforts such as television and radio call-in programs to inform and shape public opinion. The government publishes copies of proposed laws and regulations in the Official Gazette before they are presented in the House of Assembly. Although St. Lucia does not have legislation guaranteeing access to information or freedom of expression, access to information is generally available in practice. The government maintains an information service website on which it posts information such as directories of officials and a summary of laws and press releases. The government budget and an audit of that budget are available on the website. Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. The International Financial Accounting Standards, which stem from the General Accepted Accounting Principles, govern the accounting profession in St. Lucia. The most recent Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Mutual Evaluation assessment found St. Lucia to be largely compliant. The ECCB is the supervisory authority over financial institutions registered under the Banking Act of 2015.
The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner or Ombudsman is a constitutional entity created to guard against abuses of power by government officers in the performance of their duties. The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner is independent. The Parliamentary Commissioner investigates complaints relating to actions or omissions by any government official or government body where such actions or omissions cause an injustice or harm a member of the public.
In developing regulations, respective ministries advise the Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security regarding necessary elements and parameters of the proposed legislation. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security subsequently drafts the legislation, ensuring compatibility with the nation’s domestic and international legal commitments. Invest Saint Lucia has the main responsibility for investment supervision, whereas the Ministry of Finance monitors investments to collect information for national statistics and reporting purposes. St. Lucia’s membership in regional organizations, particularly the OECS and its Economic Union, commits the state to ensure the fulfillment of its various treaty obligations, although there are some minor differences in implementation from country to country. The enforcement mechanisms of these regulations include financial penalties and other sanctions.
International Regulatory Considerations
As a member of the OECS and the ECCU, St. Lucia subscribes to a set of principles and policies outlined in the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. Each participating member state is expected to coordinate and adopt, where possible, common national policies, with the objective of progressive harmonization of relevant policies and systems across the region. St. Lucia is obligated to implement regionally developed regulations, such as legislation passed under OECS authority, unless it seeks specific concessions not to implement such regulations.
The St. Lucia Bureau of Standards is a statutory body established under the Standards Act. It establishes, maintains, and promotes standards for improving industrial development and efficiency, promoting the health and safety of consumers, and protecting the environment, food products, quality of life, and the facilitation of trade. It also conducts international standards consultations and training. As a signatory to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Technical Barriers to Trade, St. Lucia is obligated to harmonize all national standards to international norms to avoid creating technical barriers to trade. St. Lucia is working to improve customs efficiency, modernize customs operations, and address inefficiencies in the clearance of goods.
St. Lucia ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in December 2015. Ratification of the Agreement is an important signal to investors of the country’s commitment to improving its business environment for trade. The TFA aims to improve the speed and efficiency of border procedures, facilitate reductions in trade costs, and enhance participation in the global value chain. St. Lucia has already implemented several TFA requirements. A full list is available at: https://www.tfadatabase.org/members/saint-lucia/measure-breakdown .
Legal System and Judicial Independence
St. Lucia bases its legal system on the British common law system, but its civil code and property law are influenced by French law. The Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, junior judges, and magistrates administer justice. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Act establishes the Supreme Court of Judicature, which consists of the High Court and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. The High Court hears criminal and civil matters and makes determinations on the interpretation of the Constitution. Parties may appeal first to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The final court of appeal is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the regional judicial tribunal, established in 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. The CCJ has original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. In its appellate jurisdiction, the CCJ considers and determines appeals from the CARICOM member states that are parties to the Agreement Establishing the CCJ. Currently, St. Lucia is subject only to the original jurisdiction of the CCJ.
The United States and St. Lucia are both parties to the WTO. The WTO Dispute Settlement Panel and Appellate Body resolve disputes over WTO agreements, while courts of appropriate jurisdiction in both countries resolve private disputes.
The judicial system remains relatively independent of the executive branch of government and is free of political interference in judicial matters.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
Invest Saint Lucia’s FDI policy is to actively pursue FDI in priority sectors and advise the government on the formation and implementation of policies and programs to attract sustainable investment. Invest St. Lucia reviews all proposals for investment concessions and incentives to ensure the projects are consistent with the national interest and provide economic benefits to the country.
Invest Saint Lucia provides “one-stop shop” facilitation services to investors to guide them through the various stages of the investment process. Invest Saint Lucia offers a website that is useful to navigate the laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors: http://www.investstlucia.com/.
Under St. Lucia’s CBI program, foreign individuals may obtain citizenship in accordance with the Citizenship by Investment Act of 2015, which grants the right to citizenship by investment. Program applicants are required to submit to a due diligence process before citizenship can be granted. The minimum investment for a single applicant to qualify is a USD 100,000 contribution to the National Economic Fund. A USD 190,000 contribution covers a family of four made up of the principal applicant, spouse, and up to two dependents. Alternatively, a real estate purchase valued at USD 300,000 or more will also qualify. There are also provisions for enterprise investment in approved projects. More information on the CBI program is available at https://www.cipsaintlucia.com.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
Chapter 8 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas outlines the competition policy applicable to the CARICOM member states. Member states are required to establish and maintain a national competition authority. CARICOM established a Caribbean Competition Commission to apply rules of competition regarding anti-competitive cross-border business conduct. CARICOM competition policy addresses anti-competitive business conduct, such as agreements between enterprises, decisions by associations of enterprises, and concerted practices by enterprises that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction, or distortion of competition within CARICOM, and actions by which an enterprise abuses its dominant position within CARICOM. St. Lucia does not yet have legislation regulating competition. The OECS agreed to establish a regional competition body to handle competition matters within its single market.
Expropriation and Compensation
Under the Land Acquisition Act, the government can acquire land for a public purpose. The government must serve a notice of acquisition to the person from whom the land is acquired. St. Lucia employs a system of eminent domain to pay compensation in such cases. There were no reports that the government discriminated against U.S. investments, companies, or landholdings. There are no laws forcing local ownership in specified sectors.
There is one disputed case of expropriation involving an American citizen-owned property. An American citizen purchased 32 acres of land in St. Lucia in 1969. The government expropriated the land in 1985 by an act of law. The claimant has been seeking redress since that time. The claimant is amenable to fair compensation. However, attempts to rectify the land registry in the claimant’s favor have been unsuccessful to date. The government has been exceedingly slow in examining the case, has lost paperwork, and is generally unresponsive to the claimant’s direct requests for information on the status of the claim.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
St. Lucia is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, but not a member of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, also known as the New York Arbitration Convention. The Arbitration Act (2001) provides general and specific provisions on arbitration rules and procedures in St. Lucia.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Investors can use national or international arbitration regarding contracts entered with the state. St. Lucia does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty or a Free Trade Agreement with an investment chapter with the United States. Post is not aware of any current investment disputes in St. Lucia.
The country ranked 75th out of 190 countries in resolving contract disputes in the 2019 World Bank Doing Business Report, and 79th out of 190 in enforcing contracts. Through the Arbitration Act, the local courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards issued against the government. In 2016, St. Lucia established a Commercial Court.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is the domestic arbitration body. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal also provides mediation. The judgements handed down by this court is recognized and enforceable under the local court system in St. Lucia. Court proceedings are generally transparent and non-discriminatory.
St. Lucia has a limited bankruptcy framework that grants certain rights to debtors and creditors. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report notes the limitations of this framework, ranking St. Lucia 131 out of 190 countries in resolving insolvency.
4. Industrial Policies
The government of St. Lucia provides incentives to encourage investment by providing tax and non-tax concessions to businesses that can add value to the country’s economic development. Approval for incentives is granted by the Cabinet upon application, taking into consideration the type, size, scope, and employment potential of the business.
St. Lucia’s Trade License Act, Aliens Licensing Act, International Business Companies Act, Development Incentives Act, Special Development Areas Act, Income Tax Act, Free Zones Act, Fiscal Incentives Act, Tourism Incentives, and Tourism Stimulus and Investments Act together constitute a broad framework of incentives for foreign investors.
Except for pork and chicken, there are no requirements for an enterprise to purchase a fixed percentage of goods from local sources. Companies purchasing chicken must purchase a minimum of 28 percent locally produced chicken. Companies purchasing pork must purchase a minimum of 40 percent locally produced pork.
The Fiscal Incentives Act of 1974 provides for fiscal incentives to facilitate local and foreign investment in the productive sectors of St. Lucia’s economy. The law gives export-oriented manufacturing enterprises special consideration. Investors may apply for incentives with the relevant ministry or ministries, providing a copy of the application to Invest Saint Lucia. The criteria for fiscal incentive qualification are that an enterprise must be incorporated and registered in St. Lucia; contribute to the economic development of St. Lucia; utilize domestic human and natural resources; form linkages with other economic sectors; contribute to foreign exchange earnings; train local personnel; and introduce plant upgrades via technological transfers.
The Fiscal Incentives Act provides a list of incentives, including a tax holiday of up to 15 years for approved projects, a waiver of import duty on imported machinery and plant equipment, a waiver of import duty on imported raw and packaging materials, and an export allowance on export earnings. Under the Fiscal Incentives Act, four types of enterprises qualify for tax holidays. The length of the tax holiday for the first three depends on the amount of value added in St. Lucia. The fourth type, known as enclave industry, must produce goods exclusively for export outside the CARICOM region. The government amended the Fiscal Incentives Act in early 2020 to expand incentives offered to local businesses as a means of spurring development and investment. The Fiscal Incentives Act now includes four subsectors of the service industry: creative industry, professional services, spa and wellness, and information and communications technology.
Maximum Tax Holiday
50% or more
25% to 50%
10% to 25%
The standard corporate income tax rate is 30 percent. An International Business Company (IBC) may elect either to be exempted from paying income tax or to be liable for income tax on the chargeable income of the company at the rate of 1 percent. An IBC is not subject to stamp duties, withholding tax, or capital gains tax. Amendments to the Act passed in 2017 sought to encourage IBCs to establish head offices in St. Lucia by offering various incentives, including a waiver of customs duty on materials, articles, or equipment used exclusively by the head office company and exemption from income tax for employees.
Various special licensing requirements apply to the acquisition of land, development of buildings, expansion of existing construction, and certain aspects of the tourism industry. Individuals or corporate bodies who are not citizens and seek to acquire land may require a license prior to execution, depending upon the amount of land.
The Special Development Areas Act encourages investment in designated areas throughout the island. These areas include Vieux-Fort, Anse la Raye, Soufriere, Canaries, Choc Estate and Dennery. Special concessions offered under this law include exemption on stamp duty and import duty on inputs for the construction of new buildings and the renovation or refurbishment of existing buildings; land and house tax; stamp duty payable by vendors and purchasers on the initial purchase of property; higher tax allowances; and accelerated depreciation. Types of businesses that may qualify for these concessions are residential complexes, commercial or industrial buildings, facilities directed towards the improvement or expansion of services to the tourism sector, water-based activities tourism projects highlighting the heritage and natural environment of St. Lucia, arts and cultural investments, agriculture-based activities, and fisheries-based activities.
The Tourism Incentives Act effectively provides for earnings exemption from income tax, as a tourism project managed by or on behalf of a company entitled to distribute profits to shareholders or debenture holders as capital monies is free of tax during the two-year period following the end of the tax holiday. The Act also allows for customs duty exemptions and permits the duty-free importation of materials and equipment used exclusively in connection with the construction and equipping of the tourism project. The Tourism Stimulus and Investment Act also allows for the waiver of value-added tax (VAT) and property tax.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
St. Lucia maintains a Free Zone. It is an enclosed area treated for customs purposes as lying outside the customs territory of the island. Goods of foreign origin may be held pending eventual transshipment, re-exportation and, in some cases, importation into the local market without payment of customs duties. There are various types of companies operating in the Free Zone, including distributors of appliances, furniture, household and office supplies/items; manufacturers; duty-free suppliers of liquor, cigarettes, fragrances, wines, and other items; and pharmaceuticals. There is one American company operating in the Free Zone.
The Free Zone Act aims to promote export development and foreign investment projects in a “bureaucracy-free, duty-free, and tax-free” environment for prescribed activities. Incentives include exemption from customs duties, taxes, and related charges on all classes of goods entering the Free Zone for commercial or operating purposes. There are no restrictions or taxes on foreign exchange transactions and no taxes on dividends for the first 20 years of operation. There are also no work permit fees for management personnel of Free Zone businesses, and no import or export licenses or price controls. Finally, there is no company income tax for the first five years, and thereafter a reduced corporate income tax. The Free Zone Act was last amended in 2018.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
The government of St. Lucia does not mandate local employment. However, the government expects foreign investors to add value to the local economy, which can be achieved by providing local employment.
The 2006 Labor Code provides guidelines for employment, dismissal, and payment of severance and other benefits. It also defines permanent employment, fixed term employment, and contract for service.
The government requires all non-CARICOM citizens and companies intending to conduct business in St. Lucia and who own more than 49 percent of the company’s shares to obtain a trade license. The ministry with responsibility for commerce issues trade licenses. Under the Foreign National and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Regulation, anyone outside OECS seeking to conduct business or be employed in St. Lucia must apply for a work permit. Applications are available from the Labor Department of the ministry with responsibility for labor. There are no excessively onerous visa, residency, or work permit requirements.
While there are no formal performance requirements, the government encourages investments that create jobs and increase exports and foreign exchange earnings. Foreign investment in St. Lucia is not subject to any restrictions, and foreign investors are entitled to receive the same treatment as nationals of St. Lucia. Foreign investors seeking to purchase property for residential or commercial purposes must obtain an Alien Landholding License. No sectors are officially closed to private enterprise, although some activities, such as telecommunications, utilities, broadcasting, banking, and insurance require government licenses. There is no restriction on foreign ownership of a local enterprise or participation in a joint venture. There are no requirements for foreign information technology providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance (e.g. backdoors into hardware and software keys for encryption, etc.).
5. Protection of Property Rights
Civil law protects physical property and mortgage claims. There are some special license requirements pertaining to acquisition of land, development of buildings, and expansion of existing construction, and special standards for various aspects of the tourism industry. Individuals or corporate bodies who are not CARICOM nationals and who seek to acquire land must apply for and obtain an alien landholder’s license as required under the Alien Landholding Act prior to acquisition.
In the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report, St. Lucia ranked 107th out of 190 countries in the ease of registering property, compared to 104th in 2019. It takes about 17 days to complete the necessary procedures, at a cost of about 7.2 percent of the property value.
Intellectual Property Rights
St. Lucia has two primary provisions governing the protection of intellectual property rights. They are the copyrights act and the trademarks act.
This Act protects literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, creative products, and performances in St. Lucia. To be eligible for copyright protection, the work must be written down, recorded or otherwise fixed in a material form. Storage of the work in a computer can be regarded as a recording of the work in a material form.
A trademark may be registered for goods, services or both. Once registered, the owner has the exclusive rights to use the trademark, authorize its use by another person, and obtain relief under the Act if the holder’s rights have been violated. A registered trademark is deemed personal property and is enforceable like the rights of personal property.
While the legal structures governing intellectual property are generally strong, enforcement is inconsistent. The Attorney General is responsible for administering intellectual property laws. The Registry of Companies and Intellectual Property Office administers the registration of patents, trademarks, and service marks.
St. Lucia is a signatory to the Washington Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the Vienna Agreement Establishing an International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks, and the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms. St. Lucia is also a signatory to the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, and Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organization. In addition, St. Lucia has signed the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001) establishing the CSME commits all 15 members to implement stronger intellectual property protection and enforcement. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA contains the most detailed obligations with respect to intellectual property in any trade agreement to which St. Lucia is a party. The EPA gives recognition to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property. Article 139 of the EPA requires parties to “ensure an adequate and effective implementation of the international treaties dealing with intellectual property to which they are parties and of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).”
The Comptroller of Customs spearheads the preventative and enforcement aspects of intellectual property rights protection, which includes the detention, seizure, and forfeiture of counterfeit goods. The Customs and Excise Department conducts investigations of customs offenses and administers fines and penalties.
St. Lucia is not listed on the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) 2018 Out-Of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets or in the 2019 Special 301 Report. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local intellectual property offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
St. Lucia is a member of the ECCU. As such, it is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE) and the Regional Government Securities Market. The ECSE is a regional securities market established by the ECCB and licensed under the Securities Act of 2001, a uniform regional body of legislation governing the securities market. St. Lucia is a member of this stock exchange.
The government of Saint Lucia remained the market leader in the financial year, raising USD 496.2 million from the auctions of 15 Treasury bills and four bonds, which represents an increase of USD 90.0 million, 22.2 percent from the amount raised in 2018. The Government of Saint Lucia’s activity accounted for 34.5 percent of the number of auctions and 38.4 percent of the overall regional government securities market (RGSM) proceeds.
St. Lucia has accepted the obligations of Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund Agreement, Sections 2, 3 and 4 and maintains an exchange system free of restrictions on making payments and transfers for current international transactions. Foreign tax credit is allowed for the lesser of the tax payable in the foreign country or the tax charged under St. Lucia tax law. The private sector has access to credit on the local market through loans, purchases of non-equity securities, and trade credits and other accounts receivable that establish a claim for repayment.
Money and Banking System
The eight participating governments of the ECCU have passed the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Agreement Act. The Act provides for the establishment of the ECCB, its management and administration, its currency, relations with financial institutions, relations with the participating governments, foreign exchange operations, external reserves, and other related matters. St. Lucia is a signatory to this agreement and the ECCB controls St. Lucia’s currency and regulates its domestic banks.
The Banking Act is a harmonized piece of legislation across the ECCU. The Minister of Finance usually acts in consultation with, and on the recommendation of, the ECCB with respect to those areas of responsibility within the Minister of Finance’s portfolio.
Domestic and foreign banks can establish operations in St. Lucia. The Banking Act requires all commercial banks and other institutions to be licensed in order to conduct any banking business. The ECCB regulates financial institutions. As part of ongoing supervision, licensed financial institutions are required to submit monthly, quarterly, and annual performance reports to the ECCB.
The ECCB annual economic report stated that the banking system in St. Lucia recorded USD 308.409 million (USD 833.3 million Eastern Caribbean dollars) in net foreign assets at the end of 2018, up from USD 219.954 million (USD 594.3 Eastern Caribbean dollars) one year earlier. Liquidity in the commercial banking system improved during 2018, which was the most recently published report. At the end of December, the ratio of liquid assets to short-term liabilities stood at 42 percent, which was above the recommended minimum, and about 2.9 percentage points higher than the level recorded at the end of 2017.
St. Lucia is well-served by bank and non-bank financial institutions. There are minimal alternative financial services. Some citizens still participate in informal community group lending.
The Caribbean region has witnessed a withdrawal of correspondent banking services by U.S. and European banks. CARICOM remains committed to engaging with key stakeholders on the issue and appointed a Committee of Ministers of Finance on Correspondent Banking to monitor the issue.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
St. Lucia is a member of the ECCU and the ECCB. The currency of exchange is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). St. Lucia has a fully liberalized foreign exchange system. The Eastern Caribbean dollar has been pegged to the United States dollar at a rate of XCD 2.70 to USD 1.00 since 1976. As a result, the Eastern Caribbean dollar does not fluctuate, creating a stable currency environment for trade and investment in St. Lucia.
There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors in converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment. Funds can also be freely converted into any of the major world currencies.
Companies registered in St. Lucia have the right to repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends, and profits. There are no restrictions on the repatriation of dividends for totally foreign-owned firms.
As a member of the OECS, there are no exchange controls in St. Lucia, and parties can invoice foreign trade transactions in any currency. Importers are not required to make prior deposits in local funds and are not required to surrender export proceeds to government authorities or to authorized banks. There are no controls on transfers of funds. St. Lucia is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Neither the government of St. Lucia, nor the ECCB, of which St. Lucia is a member, maintains a sovereign wealth fund.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in St. Lucia work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit carrying out specific ministerial responsibilities. There are 39 SOEs in St. Lucia operating in areas such as tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, solid waste management, and agriculture.
SOEs in St. Lucia do not generally pose a threat to investors. The St. 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 St. Lucia is available at http://www.govt.lc/statutory-bodies.
St. Lucia currently does not have a targeted privatization program.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
St. Lucia’s government and citizens appreciate responsible business conduct. The private sector typically engages in projects that benefit society, and support environmental, social, and cultural causes.
Most locals and foreigners do not view corruption related to foreign business and investment as a major problem in St. Lucia. However, there are 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. St. Lucia ranked 55 out of 180 countries in the 2018 and 2019 Transparency International Corruption Index.
St. Lucia has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, notably the Integrity in Public Life Act of 2004. However, while the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, enforcement is not always effective. Government agencies involved in enforcement of anti-corruption laws include the Royal St. Lucia Police Force, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Integrity Commission, and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
In June 2015, twelve Commonwealth Caribbean countries including St. Lucia established a regional body to enhance transparency and to help fight corruption. The Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean supports regional efforts to promote integrity and address corruption.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Pastor Sherwin Griffith
2nd Floor, Graham Louisy Administrative Building,
Waterfront Castries, Saint Lucia
(758) 468-2187 firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial Intelligence Authority
Gablewoods North P.O.
Castries LC02 501, Saint Lucia
(758) 451-7126 email@example.com
10. Political and Security Environment
St. 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 June 2021.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
There is no formal national minimum wage in St. 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 St. 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.
St. Lucia has a labor force of about 102,005 (2018 estimate), with a literacy rate 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 St. 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 effectively enforced labor laws, including with effective remedies and penalties, but there were insufficient resources for investigation and enforcement of labor standards. The Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development employed eight 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 USD 1,371 (XCD 3,704) and up to two years in prison. Penalties were enough to deter violations.
Investors in St. 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.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
The Development Finance Corporation (DFC) partners with the private sector to finance solutions in developing countries to drive economic growth, create stability, and improve livelihoods. St. Lucia is a qualifying country for DFC projects.
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*
U.S. Government or international statistical source