Barbados’ Business Environment
Barbados is renowned for being a reputable jurisdiction for secure investment. It is a mature and increasingly sophisticated international business and financial services domicile, offering the professionalism and high level of management necessary to sustain its development. The country has consistently placed highly in the United Nations Human Development Index (“HDI”) ranking 1st in Latin America and the Caribbean and 37th Worldwide in the 2009 survey. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a descent standard of living. Furthermore, Barbados enjoys a high literacy rate and is very proud of its human capital which includes highly qualified and experienced professionals. Barbados is the only CARICOM country that made the top 50 list of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Report of 2010 – 2011.
The Government of Barbados recognizes the tremendous potential of international business and financial services as economic drivers and is committed to development in these areas. There has been continued improvement and expansion to its legislative framework to provide generous incentives, greater flexibility for investors and general improvements to conditions to facilitate legitimate international business activities. Specifically, the Ministry of International Business and International Transport has been established to oversee the future growth of the financial services sector.
The island enjoys a reputation as a well regulated financial services jurisdiction, committed to the exchange of information through approved channels. On April 2, 2009, the OECD published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information. Barbados was prominently featured with all but four of the OECD member countries, on the list of jurisdictions that have satisfied assessors of having substantially implemented the requirements of the internationally agreed tax standard which requires exchange of information, on request, in all tax matters and provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged. Barbados was the only independent Caribbean nation to have made that list; the only other Caribbean country to make the list was a US dependent territory.
Despite the challenges posed by the international environment, Barbados continues to thrive as a low tax international business and financial services centre. The Government remains committed to its vision of developing Barbados into a country that provides high quality services to the international market and acts as a hub for the Caribbean and a convergence point for business facilitation in the Americas.
Barbados boasts an impressive tax treaty network. It currently has treaties with the following countries:
These treaties provide several benefits, including reduced withholding tax rates and elimination of double taxation. A number of other treaties are currently at various stages of negotiation.