Barbados has long-held the ambition of achieving the status of The premier international business financial centre in this region. It is therefore exciting to see a band of young Barbadian entrepreneurs launch into the cryptocurrency arena, which could be the game changer that Barbados has been seeking in its bid to further distinguish itself from other similar jurisdictions.
Cognisant of regulatory responsibilities and reputational risk, these young entrepreneurs are working in alignment with our Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Barbados to offer the type of solution that captures the key elements of international business development in Barbados – global reach, exponential scalability not constrained by geographic size, world-class local talent, and immense foreign exchange earning potential not tied to the vagaries of tourism travel. By lowering the barriers to foreign exchange transactions, it is also expected that domestic businesses that with e-commerce and mobile commerce platforms will be able to realise their potential through low-cost, instant, cross-border payments. Gabriel Abed, CEO and Co-Founder of Bitt in Barbados recently commented that Bitt has a head start on international financial sectors for Financial Technology and therefore Barbadians they hire learn an advanced field of the up and coming financial world.
“Bitt will not only be one of the leading companies in the world. Our citizens, Barbadians, will be the leading engineers!”
Other cutting edge developments that demonstrate the wealth of opportunities available to foreign investors are the rapid growth in other fin/tech companies, mobile apps developers, the expansion into the green economy, and new niche markets in the hospitality sector. Barbados remains a progressive jurisdiction capitalising on one of its main value propositions – the ready availability of skilled, well-educated locals who can transform new or existing knowledge into investor opportunities.
In addition, Barbados continues to respond to the needs of international investors with the enactment of new legislation designed to offer new opportunities for wealth protection and growth, such as the Private Trust Companies Act, the Foundations Act, and the soon to be enacted Incorporated Cell Company legislation. This island has a rich and long history of being well-regulated, and therefore these solutions will continue to hold up to the most rigorous international scrutiny. Our regulatory environment is also continuously being refreshed and enhanced, for example the recent enactment of the Corporate and Trust Service Providers Act to create a registry of regulated and “fit for purpose” service providers.
The island’s commitment to global transparency is signalled by its deep and growing network of tax treaties, which includes 36 Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs), five Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) and 11 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITS). This number continues to grow as we currently have 10 DTAs and three TIEAs awaiting ratification or signature. While Canada has remained our main source of international business for decades, Barbados continues to provide opportunities further afield and, in 2015 alone, the TIEA with South Africa came into force, the DTA with Cyprus was initialled, the DTA with Italy was signed and is awaiting ratification, and the DTA with the Slovak Republic was signed and is awaiting ratification. These ongoing negotiations provide our service providers with new and interesting propositions that they can offer an experienced and discerning global clientele.
Beyond the business solutions that Barbados can offer, the well-travelled international investor also appreciates the quality of life enjoyed in Barbados. Many who come here for business often stay for pleasure, either by setting up a business entity, or undertaking a real estate investment. In Barbados there lies an absolute range of available options to satisfy varying tastes, including world-class polo and golf facilities, water and motor sports, Zagat-rated restaurants, and luxury properties. The recent implementation of the Special Entry Permits (SEPs) makes Barbados even more attractive to individuals with a minimum net worth of US$5million, and who are willing to invest US$2 million in Barbados.
Barbados has not been immune to the fallout of the global economic downturn but the international business sector has continued to be and will continue to be a net contributor to the island’s net international reserves, providing the basis on which this island continues to grow as one of the fastest developing nations in this hemisphere.