Money In The Bank – How
Much Of It Is insured?
St. Vincent is rapidly becoming a leading location for
foreign investment. The volcanic islands between the Florida
Keys and the South American Mainland is very well known for
offshore business. Investors will benefit from the extensive
range of investment opportunities and incentives available
in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.
The business incentives are:
- Complete exemption from income tax on profits [some
- An independent and efficient judiciary system
- Significant Tax holidays for new business
- Import tax reduction on raw materials, machinery,
equipment and spare parts
- Freedom to repatriate funds for business.
- A low-cost operating centre for offshore business
- Exceptional low fee structure for business formation.
- Lifting of ban on foreigners holding trust company
- A stable foreign exchange regime
- Excellent Telecommunications with the entire world.
- Stable labour force
- A tradition of governmental support for foreign private
- Support for foreign private investment.
St.Vincent and the Grenadines boasts perhaps the most modern
International Business Centre.
Area: 340 sq. km. (130 sq. mi.); slightly less than twice
the size of Washington, DC. The Grenadines include 32
islands, the largest of which are Bequia, Mustique, Canouan,
and Union. Some of the smaller islands are privately owned.
Terrain: Volcanic and mountainous, with the highest peak,
Soufriere, rising to 1,219 meters (4,000 ft.).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Vincentian.
Population (July 2009 est.): 104,574.
Annual population growth rate (2009 est.): -0.344%.
Ethnic groups: African descent (66%), mixed (19%), West
Indian (6%), Carib Indian (2%), other (7%).
Religions: Anglican (47%), Methodist (28%), Roman Catholic
(13%), other Protestant denominations, Seventh-day Adventist,
Language: English (official); some French Patois spoken.
Education (2004): Adult literacy--88.1%.
Health (2006): Infant mortality rate--17/1,000. Life
expectancy--men 69 years; women 74 years.
Workforce (2006): 57,695.
Unemployment (2004): 12%.
Type: Parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state
within the Commonwealth.
Independence: October 27, 1979.
Constitution: October 27, 1979.
Branches: Executive--governor general (representing Queen
Elizabeth II, head of state), prime minister (head of
government), cabinet. Legislative--unicameral legislature
with 15-member elected House of Assembly and six-member
appointed Senate. Judicial--district courts, Eastern
Caribbean Supreme Court (High Court and Court of Appeals),
final appeal to the Privy Council in London.
Subdivisions: Six parishes.
Political parties: Unity Labour Party (ULP, incumbent), New
Democratic Party (NDP).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (purchasing power parity, 2009 est.): $1.55 billion.
GDP real growth rate (2009 est.): -6.5%.
Per capita GDP (2009 est.): $18,100.
Inflation (consumer prices, 2007 est.): 6.1%.
Natural resources: Timber.
Agriculture: Mostly bananas.
Industry: Plastic products, food processing, cement,
furniture, clothing, starch, and detergents.
Trade (2005): Exports--$40 million (merchandise) and $155
million (commercial services). Major markets--European Union
(27.2%), Barbados (12.7%), Trinidad and Tobago (12.3%),
Saint Lucia (10.9%), and the United States (9.2%). Imports--$240
million (merchandise) and $74 million (commercial services).
Major suppliers--United States (33.3%), Trinidad and Tobago
(23.6%), European Union (15.1%), Japan (4.2%), and Barbados
Official exchange rate: EC$2.70 = U.S. $1.
Most Vincentians are the descendants of African slaves
brought to the island to work on plantations. There also are
a few white descendants of English colonists, as well as
some East Indians, Carib Indians, and a sizable minority of
mixed race. The country's official language is English, but
a French patois may be heard on some of the Grenadine
Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on
St. Vincent until the 18th century. African slaves--whether
shipwrecked or escaped from St. Lucia and Grenada and
seeking refuge in St. Vincent--intermarried with the Caribs
and became known as "black Caribs." Beginning in 1719,
French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton,
and sugar on plantations worked by African slaves. In 1763,
St. Vincent was ceded to Britain. Restored to French rule in
1779, St. Vincent was regained by the British under the
Treaty of Versailles in 1783. Conflict between the British
and the black Caribs continued until 1796, when General
Abercrombie crushed a revolt fomented by the French radical
Victor Hugues. More than 5,000 black Caribs were eventually
deported to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.
Slavery was abolished in 1834; the resulting labor shortages
on the plantations attracted Portuguese immigrants in the
1840s and east Indians in the 1860s. Conditions remained
harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural
workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy
stagnant until the turn of the century.
From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through
various stages of colonial status under the British. A
representative assembly was authorized in 1776, Crown Colony
government installed in 1877, a legislative council created
in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951.
During this period, the British made several unsuccessful
attempts to affiliate St. Vincent with other Windward
Islands in order to govern the region through a unified
administration. The most notable was the West Indies
Federation, which collapsed in 1962. St. Vincent was granted
associate statehood status in 1969, giving it complete
control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in
1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the
Windward Islands to gain independence.
Natural disasters have plagued the country throughout the
20th century. In 1902, the La Soufriere volcano erupted,
killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the
economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufriere erupted
again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be
evacuated, and there was extensive agricultural damage. In
1980 and 1987, hurricanes devastated banana and coconut
plantations; 1998 and 1999 also saw very active hurricane
seasons, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive
damage to the west coast of the island.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy
within the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is
head of state and is represented on the island by a governor
general, an office with mostly ceremonial functions. Control
of the government rests with the prime minister and the
The parliament is a unicameral body, consisting of 15
elected members and six appointed senators. The governor
general appoints senators, four on the advice of the prime
minister and two on the advice of the leader of the
opposition. The parliamentary term of office is 5 years,
although the prime minister may call elections at any time.
As in other English-speaking Caribbean countries, the
judiciary in St. Vincent is rooted in British common law.
There are 11 courts in three magisterial districts. The
Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, comprising a High Court and
a Court of Appeals, is known in St. Vincent as the St.
Vincent and the Grenadines Supreme Court. The court of last
resort is the judicial committee of Her Majesty's Privy
Council in London.
There is no local government in St. Vincent, and all six
parishes are administered by the central government.
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General--Frederick Ballantyne
Prime Minister--Ralph E. Gonsalves
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, and Trade--Douglas
Ambassador to the United States and the OAS--La Celia Prince
Permanent Representative to the UN--Camillo Gonsalves
St. Vincent and the Grenadines maintains an embassy at 3216
New Mexico Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016 (tel.
202-364-6730). St. Vincent also has a consul resident in New
The People's Political Party (PPP), founded in 1952 by
Ebenezer Joshua, was the first major political party in St.
Vincent. The PPP had its roots in the labor movement and was
in the forefront of national policy prior to independence,
winning elections from 1957 through 1966. With the
development of a more conservative black middle class,
however, the party began to lose support steadily, until it
collapsed after a rout in the 1979 elections. The party
dissolved itself in 1984.
Founded in 1955, the St. Vincent Labour Party (SVLP), under
R. Milton Cato, gained the support of the middle class. With
a conservative law-and-order message and a pro-Western
foreign policy, the SVLP dominated politics from the
mid-1960s until the mid-1980s. Following victories in the
1967 and 1974 elections, the SVLP led the island to
independence, winning the first post-independence election
in 1979. Expecting an easy victory for the SVLP in 1984,
Cato called early elections. The results were surprising:
with a record 89% voter turnout, James F. Mitchell's New
Democratic Party (NDP) won nine seats in the House of
Bolstered by a resurgent economy in the mid-1980s, Mitchell
led his party to an unprecedented sweep of all 15 House of
Assembly seats in the 1989 elections. The opposition emerged
from the election weakened and fragmented but was able to
win three seats during the February 1994 elections under a
"unity" coalition. In 1998, Prime Minister Mitchell and the
NDP were returned to power for an unprecedented fourth term
but with only a slim margin of 8 seats to 7 seats for the
Unity Labour Party (ULP). The NDP was able to accomplish a
return to power while receiving a lesser share of the
popular vote, approximately 45% to the ULP's 55%.
In March 2001, the ULP, led by Ralph Gonsalves, assumed
power after winning 12 of the 15 seats in Parliament. In the
December 2005 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister
Gonsalves and the ULP retained their 12-3 majority over the
NDP. In the December 2010 parliamentary elections, Prime
Minister Gonsalves and the ULP retained a slight majority,
winning 8 of the 15 seats. The main opposition party, the
NDP, won the remaining 7 seats.
Banana production employs upwards of 60% of the work force
and accounts for 50% of merchandise exports in St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, with an emphasis on the main island of
St. Vincent. Such reliance on one crop has made the economy
vulnerable to fluctuations in banana prices and reduced
European Union trade preferences. To combat these
vulnerabilities, the Government of St. Vincent and the
Grenadines is focused on diversifying its economy away from
reliance on bananas. Recently, there has been a parallel
reduction in licit agriculture and a rise in marijuana
cultivation, making St. Vincent and the Grenadines the
largest marijuana producer in the Eastern Caribbean.
In contrast to developments on the main island, tourism in
the Grenadines has grown to become a very important part of
the economy, and the chief earner of foreign exchange for
the country as a whole. The Grenadines have become a
favorite of high-end tourism and the focus of new
development in the country. Super-luxury resorts, yachting
tourism, and a commitment by the government to rehabilitate
and protect the Tobago Keys as a national park have all
contributed to strong tourism returns in the Grenadines.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines' currency is the Eastern
Caribbean Dollar (EC$), a regional currency shared among
members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues the EC$,
manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises
commercial banking activities in its member countries. The
ECCB has kept the EC$ pegged at EC$2.7=U.S. $1.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a beneficiary of the U.S.
Caribbean Basin Initiative that grants duty-free entry into
the United States for many goods. St. Vincent and the
Grenadines also belongs to the predominantly
English-speaking Caribbean Community and Common Market
(CARICOM) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
St. Vincent and the Grenadines maintains close ties to the
United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and is a
member of regional political and economic organizations such
as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and
CARICOM. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is also a member of
the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the
Organization of American States (OAS), and the Association
of Caribbean States (ACS). St. Vincent and the Grenadines
has chosen to recognize Taiwan instead of the People's
Republic of China.
U.S.-ST. VINCENT RELATIONS
The United States and St. Vincent have solid bilateral
relations. Both governments are concerned with eradicating
local marijuana cultivation and combating the transshipment
of narcotics. In 1995, the United States and St. Vincent
signed a Maritime Law Enforcement Agreement. In 1996, the
Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed an
Extradition Treaty with the United States. In 1997, the two
countries signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
The United States supports the Government of St. Vincent and
the Grenadines' efforts to expand its economic base and to
provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. U.S.
assistance is channeled primarily through multilateral
agencies such as the World Bank. The United States has 27
Peace Corps volunteers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
working in business development, education, and health. The
U.S. military also provides assistance through construction
and humanitarian civic action projects.
A relatively small number of Americans--fewer than
1,000--reside on the islands.
The United States maintains no official presence in St.
Vincent. The Ambassador and Embassy officers are resident in
Barbados and frequently travel to St. Vincent.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--D. Brent Hardt
Political/Economic Chief--Brian Greaney
Consul General--Eugene Sweeney
Commercial Affairs--Greg Floyd
Public Affairs Officer--Rebecca Ross
Peace Corps Director--Kevin Carley (resident in St. Lucia)
The U.S. Embassy in Barbados is located in the Wildey
Business Park, Wildey, St. Michael (tel: 246-436-4950; fax:
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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