The Caribbean is renowned as one of the top global tourist destinations, but it is also emerging as a fiscally attractive place for starting, relocating or expanding business.
Caribbean countries are mostly multilingual and boast advantageous geographical proximity to Mexico and the US, something that is a major factor when considering the best places to start a business.
Growth potential and location drawing investment in Caribbean
As an important constituent part of the Caribbean, the Lucayan Archipelago is the island group comprising the Bahamas and the British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is located in the western North Atlantic Ocean, north of Cuba and the other Antilles, and east and south-east of Florida.
Beyond the sun and sand, the Caribbean region boasts a stable economy and propitious growth forecasts.
With the sustainable use of ocean resources, ongoing economic growth potential and the continuous development of the region’s services, logistics, agriculture, and creative and digital sectors, the potential for new and expanding businesses is burgeoning.
Islands including Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are leading the way, having benefited from strong fiscal growth for business owners and start-up initiatives.
Political and social stability, a highly skilled and productive workforce, access to international telecommunication services and a superior infrastructure all add to the attraction of starting or expanding a business in the region.
Showcasing the global interest in investing in the Caribbean, January 2023 saw the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the government of Antigua and Barbuda announce a major expansion project at the University of West Indies at Five Islands (UWI) in the Caribbean.
With a fiscal input of around $80 million, this further enhances the regional infrastructure and promotes further growth across multiple sectors.
The Turks and Caicos Islands
Boasting a strong and growing economy, a pro-business environment and government-backed tax incentives, investing in the Turks and Caicos Islands is an attractive proposition for fintech investment.
With tourism and trade in steady growth across the territory, investment in the Turks and Caicos Islands has grown in recent years. Both domestic and foreign business investors are increasingly eager to take advantage of what the region has to offer for their money.
The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands. Though the islands are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre, their investment strengths are numerous.
As the third largest British Overseas Territory by population, with about 58,000 residents, the potential for new, expanding or relocating businesses in the Turks and Caicos Islands is boosted by government support in the form of tax incentives.
The provision of investment incentives in priority sectors is particularly important for potential investors.
Tax incentives boost Turks and Caicos business credentials
Much of the investment that pours into the Turks and Caicos Islands is driven by the tourism, offshore finance and fishing industries.
As one of the fastest-growing economies across the Caribbean, the forecast is positive, with an estimated annual growth rate of about 3.5%, boosted by the use of the US dollar as the primary currency.
With a progressive outlook across the country, investing in the Turks and Caicos Islands offers a pro-business investment climate with tax incentives and encouragement for entrepreneurs.
Over the past decade, GDP has been led by investments in hotels and restaurants, financial services, transport and real estate.
With the US dollar the main currency, foreign companies can invest in Turks and Caicos and harness the buying power that comes with this. As islands with no income tax, capital gains tax, estate/inheritance tax, or corporate tax associated with real estate investment, one of the major draws is property investment.
With a GDP of around $795m, the national economy continues to expand across multiple sectors.
As the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean, and the most populated, Jamaica is often considered to be the best place to start a business in the Caribbean.
Support packages from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank helped the country cut its debt and transform its economy as it emerged as a more prosperous business location.
Jamaica offers investors and business owners a sound location for outsourcing activities to achieve lower costs while enjoying the location benefits.
In a global study of the regulations and requirements necessary to start a business, Jamaica recently ranked in sixth position. The report that also found that that nation’s start-up economy is also on an upward trajectory.
Based on a wide range of criteria including the number of procedures such as licences and permits, how long it takes to start up a business and the costs involved in doing that, Jamaica ranks highly among Caribbean nations as a location for starting or expanding a business.
The capital, Kingston, is seen as the leading tech hub in the Caribbean, with a growing number of start-ups and incubators setting up shop in the city. As recently as 2018, it was named Nearshore City of the Year at the Nexus event held in San Francisco.
With a recently launched programme designed to stabilise and grow the economy through business investment, Jamaica has become a more attractive option for business start-ups and expansions.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Jamaica is among the best countries in the world in which to start a business.
Having enjoyed steady growth in its economy since 2014, the Dominican Republic is emerging as one of the best places to start a business in the Caribbean.
Now established as an economically stable nation, UNCTAD states it has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the Caribbean since 2010.
One of the fiscal indicators that make this a good place for business development is the World Bank forecast at the end of 2021, predicting a growth in GDP of 4.5% in 2022, above the growth projected for the Caribbean region of 3.7%.
So where is the best place to start a business in the Caribbean?
Caribbean economies have benefited tremendously from strong regional and international trade relationships.
As well as the traditional industries including tourism, hospitality and produce, there is also a growing and expanding scientific market that is attracting more business start-ups in the sector.
Over the past decade, many Caribbean islands have achieved what is called ‘middle-income status’ showcasing the potential for growing business endeavours across the region.
With diversifying economic strengths, globalisation and digitalisation have made the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands more open for start-ups and business relocations.
Information, Data and Statistics from Caribbean Chambers of Commerce, Statista, Invest in Turks and Caicos, Our World in Data and Turks and Caicos Government Statistics, Jamaica Tourism.