While the dark storm clouds, in varying shades of grey, hover over a number of International Financial Centers, (“IFCs”) the warming sun continues to shine on Barbados as it forges on with its progressive initiates to develop programs and policies aimed at making the jurisdiction more appealing to discerning international investors. Barbados has always differentiated itself from other IFCs by strategically focussing on vigorously expanding its growing network of double taxation and bilateral investment treaties and twinning that strategy with the high quality lifestyle available, to attract investors to Barbados.
The island enjoys an enviable reputation as being an enlightened, well regulated financial services jurisdiction, committed to the exchange of information through approved channels. In April 2009 when the OECD issued its first list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information, Barbados was the only independent Caribbean jurisdiction to be included in the “White” section of that list. The OECD has also acknowledged Barbados as a significant financial centre.
In forging through the layers of the storm cloud of enhanced scrutiny and regulation that has followed this system Barbados has recently signalled its aspiration to be the Centre of Excellence for International Business and Wealth Management for this hemisphere. To buttress this objective, a regime aimed at attracting high net worth individuals to Barbados was implemented. In essence, the regime is a special entry permit system through which high net worth individuals and their families could secure long-term status in Barbados. The range of qualifying overseas professional services eligible for the foreign currency earnings credit under the Barbados Income Tax Act has also been expanded to include exploration, extraction and other mining, oil and gas activities, licensing and sub-licensing of intellectual property and shipping services. And in keeping with Barbados’ progressive thinking, this list is continually being expanded. These immigration proposals, combined with the availability of the foreign currency earnings credit on the remittance of foreign income to Barbados, the benefits of a double taxation treaty, and the absence of inheritance and capital gains tax, all increase the appeal of Barbados, particularly to high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs.
But is an enhanced regime as outlined above sufficient to seduce an astute investor to relocate to Barbados or entice a multi-national corporation to include Barbados in their international planning structures? It would be pointless to deny that Barbados has already enjoyed great success in attracting this calibre of investors. Just flicking through the pages of The Red Book 2014 provides fodder to warrant a pause to tap one’s chin imagining frolicking in the calm Atlantic sea waters and casting one’s eye thirstily to the shore, to gaze at the passion fruit mojito awaiting them, as a reward for closing a significant transaction, and all done while in Barbados.
Today, an increasing number of successful business people are choosing to focus more on the quality of lifestyle together with accumulating their wealth, than just single-mindedly focussing on the latter. So, just close your eyes for a minute and allow yourself to be transported, unencumbered to a place where you can enjoy:
- a rich architectural heritage, for example, consider St Nicholas Abbey, dating back to 1658, which is the oldest house in the western hemisphere, and where sugar, grown from our own local canes, is still crushed by old steam engines and also made into their own branded rum, sugar and molasses.
- a safe and wonderful environment within which to live and raise children: a world class education system; the best healthcare facilities serviced by the largest number of experienced medical professionals in the region; the immense selection of picture perfect beaches – clean and safe with loads of activities like paddle-boarding, kite-boarding, surfing, sailing. Families can enjoy picnics and other gatherings on the beaches and parks, even at night – just pack up the cooler with some of our fish cutters and don’t forget our award winning Banks beer – and enjoy a spectacular full moon in the open.
- a wide selection of events and festivals including our annual music, Crop Over, steel pan and culinary festivals, plus the Holders Opera Season; National Trusts hikes; a huge number of international and regional sporting events including world class polo, horse racing, car rallying, sailing, surfing, boxing, hockey and of course, cricket.
- an enviable selection of world acclaimed restaurants and our own special indigenous fare.
All from a multifaceted location that boasts a high quality of infrastructure which is essential to the efficient operation of businesses operating within its fair shores offering one of the most advanced business infrastructures in the Caribbean region, including world-class telecommunications, excellent international connectivity, good time-zone compatibility, highly skilled and educated workforce and adequate, reliable utilities. This is supported by a high respect for law and order, very low crime rate and a long tradition of democracy.
Also consider some of Barbados’ rankings which provoked Koffi Annan to earlier remark that Barbados punches above its weight, including:
- The Human Development Index which combines life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and GDP per capita to measure a country’s development – Barbados is ranked 1st for Latin America and the Caribbean region and 3rd for the Americas, in the United Nations Human Development Report of 2013
- The Networked Readiness Index – ranked 3rd for Latin America and the Caribbean and 39th worldwide, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report of 2013
- The Availability of Latest Technologies – 1st for Latin America and the Caribbean and 28th worldwide, in the Global Competitiveness Report of 2012/13
- Soundness of Banks – 2nd in Latin America and the Caribbean and 10th worldwide, in the Global Competitiveness Report of 2012/12
- Transparency – 1st for Latin America and the Caribbean and 15th worldwide in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2012.
Given the foregoing attributes, which are but a sampling of the feast available from Barbados, one can conclude that indeed, the skies are beautifully clear in Barbados; the opportunities munificent. So why not make Barbados not only your choice for vacation, but also your choice to headquarter your business and a place to call home? Barbados delivers.
Prepared for Terra Caribbean’s The Red Book 2014 Pink Pages.