On a small island of 166 square miles and a quarter of million people (give or take a few thousand), it can often come as a shock to the casual visitor to learn that all six of Canada’s ‘Big Banks’ have an established presence in Barbados, as do all the ‘Big 4’ global accounting firms. However, once educated to the fact that this island is also home to over 4,000 international business entities that rely on a backbone of sophisticated and globally connected financial and corporate service providers, the visitor is ready to join a growing throng willing to ask “Why not Barbados?”.

As a global service provider with a corporate mission to be ‘the business enabler of choice’, the Tricor Group chose Barbados for its operations as we recognized it to be a mature and increasingly sophisticated international business and financial services domicile, offering professionalism and the high level of management necessary to sustain its development. Similarly, McKinney Rogers, a global corporate strategy consulting firm, also signalled a vote of confidence in the market with the formation of its global headquarters on island. The type of clientele that Barbados caters to can be illustrated by the fact that the island hosts the logistics and marketing operations of global giants such as Gildan, and the manufacturing plant for biotech innovators such as Lenstec, while remaining within the top 10 global destinations for captive insurance business. Aon and Marsh have well-established presences on the island, while having been joined recently by new entrants such as Integrity Insurance Management.

Barbados is also becoming a prime destination for tourism investment with over $1 billion worth of development inflows expected over the next two years, which will see Hyatt and Wyndham hotels join other international flagship brands on the island, such as Marriott and Hilton, plus major Jamaican group, Sandals Resorts. Barbados has also derived significant investment inflows from its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours. The Massy Group, Ansa McAL and Prestige Holdings conglomerates of Trinidad and Tobago have invested billions of dollars within the last decade in the manufacturing, retail and distribution, and hospitality sectors on the island; while Republic Bank, also of the twin-island republic, has established a strong presence in the island’s financial sector.

The factors in favour of making an investment in establishing a corporate presence on the island are many but the key attributes are:

  • An extensive Tax Treaty Network with over 36 jurisdictions that provides certainty and security for entities and investors in traditional markets, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, that want to conduct business in emerging markets such as Cuba, China, and several Latin American countries including Mexico and Panama.
  • A well-regulated and stable financial system that adheres to international obligations under the Basel accords, International Monetary Fund consultations, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development multinational treaties, among others.
  • A suite of legislative products, including the recent Private Trust Companies Act and the Foundations Act, that can facilitate the setting up of a variety of legal entities to protect current investments or legacy funds both here and abroad.
  • A 24-hour international airport that hosts major carriers with daily direct flights to many other global international financial business centres. • A stable political climate with well-established procedures for transitions of power and business continuity.
  • A highly skilled population with over a third of the workforce having attained a tertiary level education, which can lead to cost-savings on management relocation as well as minimising the length of time taken to start-up a new operation.
  • A desirable number of Zagat-rated restaurants and Diamond-rated hotels suitable for the discerning corporate traveller who wants to mix business meetings with pleasure, while being accompanied by family or other companions.
  • A robust telecommunications network that can facilitate virtual meetings across time zones and continents with ease.

Quality of life is not always considered when making large financial decisions but, in the case of Barbados, investors can rest assured that their human capital is equally safeguarded. The island remains at low risk for natural disasters, having not been directly hit by a hurricane since 1955; has one of the lowest crime rates in the region; and hasn’t experienced civil unrest since the 1930s. The island boasts a cosmopolitan array of activities including golf and polo tournaments, regular concerts by regional and international musicians, high-end duty-free shopping outlets, and the ever-present sun, sea and sand. The long-maintained exchange rate peg of 2:1 with the US dollar also offers personal financial stability and investment security.

These factors take on even more significance given that the implementation of the Special Entry and Reside Permits (SERPs) facilitates entry for individuals with a minimum net worth of US$5million and who are willing to invest US$2 million in Barbados. Once granted a SERP, qualifying high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and their dependents can live in Barbados with few restrictions for an indefinite or a fixed period, depending on the age of the individual and the particular category the individual falls under – a retired person, an employed person or an entrepreneur. Eligible individuals will be taxed only on their income that is generated locally or remitted to Barbados.

Having just celebrated its 50th year of political Independence and its 51st year since the passage of the first piece of international business legislation, Barbados can be recognized as a true international business hub, an authentic world-class events destination, and a leading tourism location to suit the tastes of the most judicious investor.

About the Author

Connie Smith
Connie Smith - Managing Director Tricor Caribbean Limited/Caribbean Corporate Services Ltd

Governance, Compliance and Risk professional with broad experience in the establishment and maintenance of corporate vehicles, particularly in Barbados and the British Virgin Islands. Managing Director, Tricor Caribbean.