St. Kitts and Nevis is fast becoming a magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in key sectors such as tourism related real estate, financial services and offshore education; primarily medical university institutions. The economic outlook for St. Kitts and Nevis is bright coming out of the global recession.
The St. Kitts and Nevis economy is projected to have grown by 5.4 % in 2014 and growth is expected to continue into the medium term. Income from the Citizenship by Investment Program, construction sector, manufacturing and tourism has helped the economy to reduce its indebtedness and economically recover after four years of stagnant economic growth. In fact, St. Kitts and Nevis has been the leading exporter of manufactured goods to the United States in the Eastern Caribbean for the past few years.
The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis strongly encourages foreign direct investment. St. Kitts and Nevis’ foreign direct investment policy is to attract FDI into the priority sectors as identified under the National Diversification Strategy. These include financial services, tourism, agriculture, information technology, education services, renewable energy and limited light manufacturing.
The government has a favorable attitude towards investment. As such, it has instituted a number of investment incentives for businesses considering the possibility of locating in St. Kitts or Nevis, encouraging both domestic and foreign private investment. Government policies provide liberal tax holidays, duty-free import of equipment and materials.
Tax incentives can be in the form of exemption from import duty on materials for approved projects, tax holidays of up to 15 years and export incentives. The Government has designated areas in St. Kitts where foreign investment in tourism is incentivized under the Hotel Aids Act. The Law allows for exemption from import duty on material, a tax holiday of 10 years for the refurbishment or construction of a hotel with 30 or more bedrooms and 5 years for hotels with 10 to 29 bedrooms. These areas include; The South East Peninsula, Frigate Bay and the Whitegate Development area.
Companies registered in St. Kitts and Nevis have the right to repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends and profits free of charges on foreign exchange transactions. There are no exchange controls in St. Kitts and Nevis and the invoicing of foreign trade transactions may be made in any currency.
The Government treats foreign investors and local investors equally with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory. Foreign investors may also hold up to 100% of an investment.
St. Kitts and Nevis has become a very attractive destination for medical education institutions with six accredited schools currently offering higher education in medical, veterinary medicine and nursing studies. The first of these schools; Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) which boast of having over 2000 graduates was established in 1982 and has full accreditation status from The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for a period of seven years to offer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program.
The reasons St. Kitts and Nevis is an idyllic investment haven for medical education institutions, are the local infrastructure and supporting services. In order to operate in St. Kitts and Nevis, a school must be certified by the St. Kitts and Nevis Accreditation Board which is guided by two Acts; The St. Christopher and Nevis Accreditation Act, 1999 and The St. Christopher and Nevis Accreditation of Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2001.
St. Kitts and Nevis is currently witnessing a spike in tourism related real estate development. This growth is spurred by the country’s economic Citizenship by Investment Programme. These include the following:
Christophe Harbour Development : planned as a treasure of the new Caribbean, Christophe Harbour comprises luxury residences, a mega yacht marina, an 18-hole Tom Fazio golf course, hotels, restaurants and much more.
The Park Hyatt Hotel, Koi Hotel and Resort, Pelican Bay Resort and Kittitian Hill Resort, Tamarind Cove Marina, and Fisherman’s Cabana to name a few. There are already a number of large scale projects in the investment pipeline, which could significantly enhance FDI growth prospects for 2015 and beyond.