Barbados enjoys a positive image in the marketplace as a reputable International Business Centre of choice and has been successfully attracting Foreign Direct Investment for decades, particularly from Canada and the USA. The country is the third leading destination for Canadian direct investment abroad, garnering Cdn$53.3 billion of direct investment from Canada at the end of 2011. Professor Walid Hejazi has indicated that "...the OECD is satisfied that Canadian direct investment abroad that goes to or through Barbados...complies with OECD standards for transparency and exchange of information - standards which Barbados expects of all corporations active in its jurisdiction. Conduits like Barbados allow Canadian firms in those industries which drive the global economy to maintain their competitiveness in the global economy." (Hejazi, W. 2007)
Companies looking to thrive in a highly competitive global marketplace invest in Barbados, to capitalize on the business-friendly environment, strong human capital, high-quality infrastructure, tax advantages, investment protection, and good quality of life.
OECD Approved Domicile
The OECD in its initial report published in April 2009, "Progress Report on the Jurisdictions Surveyed by the OECD Global Forum in Implementing the Internationally Agreed Tax Standard," recognized Barbados as the only independent, Caribbean nation which has substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard. It is therefore accepted that Barbados has met requirements for the exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes.
Well-Educated Human Resources
Barbados' world class educational system produces a highly skilled, English-speaking work force comprising approximately 142,300 people. Investors can readily access the services of tax advisors, reputable international banks, global accounting firms, lawyers and management companies offering the full range of corporate services.
In the UN Human Development Index 2011, the country ranks 5th in the Americas and 47th in the world in respect of educational attainment, as measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level.
Education is based on the British model and is compulsory for children from age 5 to 16 years old. The government provides free primary and secondary education as well as free university education for nationals. This means that approximately 20% of government's annual budget is dedicated to expenditure on education. There are also private schools, which provide education on a fee-paying basis. Click here to read More....
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Excellent Quality of Life
Investors also choose Barbados as the location for their business operations because the country's quality of life makes it an attractive place to work, to live and to raise families. Barbados' high quality of health care and education services as well as its standard of living are borne out in the country's ranking of 5th in the Americas and 47th in the world in the UN Human Development Index 2011.
The low crime rate provides a secure environment for residents to enjoy the country's warm climate, pristine beaches, world class amenities and array of recreational activities. These factors contributed to Barbados' ranking of 5th in the Americas (and 33rd out of 111 countries) in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality of Life Index 2005.
Barbados has been a choice for international businesses for decades since the mid 1960s.
Barbados has remained a trusted jurisdiction based on its proven track record for fostering the success of companies established here. As a result, many international businesses established remain in Barbados and continue to be complemented by new entrants to the Barbados market.
Barbados offers a well-regulated, transparent and supportive environment for business. Competition is enhanced by transparent policies and effective laws. Starting and operating a business are straightforward and free from burdensome regulation.
The country's strong legal system ensures that property rights are well protected and an independent judiciary guarantees the impartial and effective resolution of disputes.
Barbados also offers a supportive institutional framework for international business. Further, an International Business Customer Charter details the commitments of regulatory agencies to provide swift, efficient and professional service to the international business sector.
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Expanding Tax Treaty Network
Barbados has an expanding network of double taxation treaties which offers tax advantages to investors that use Barbadian resident entities to conduct business in other countries.
Barbados' tax treaty partners include traditional and emerging economies in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Barbados has entered into Double Tax Agreements (DTAs) with Austria, Botswana, Canada, CARICOM, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Seychelles, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, and Venezuela. Tax treaties with Bahrain, Ghana, Portugal, Qatar and San Marino are awaiting ratification. Barbados has initialled treaties with Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Slovak Republic and Vietnam. Discussions are ongoing towards the implementation of similar conventions with other nations including Brazil, Chile, and India.
Under Barbados' DTAs, the other contracting state imposes preferential withholding tax rates on income paid to qualifying Barbadian resident entities or lower rates of tax on capital gains derived by qualifying Barbadian resident entities.
Investors that use a Barbadian entity to invest in other countries may also enjoy protection of their investment. Barbados has entered into treaties for the promotion and protection of investment with Canada, China, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Switzerland, the UK and Venezuela. Investment treaties with the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union and Ghana are awaiting ratification. Under these agreements, Barbadian entities that invest in the other contracting state benefit from provisions offering protection including guarantees of non-discriminatory treatment of their investments, the transfer of investments and returns held in the host state and recourse to international arbitration to settle disputes with the host state.
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Political, Social and Economic Stability
Barbados enjoys an enviable international reputation for its outstanding record of social, economic and political stability. Barbados' parliamentary system has been in existence since 1639, making it the 3rd oldest parliament in the British Commonwealth. The country's long-standing tradition of parliamentary democracy and the prudent management of the economy provide a stable foundation for business. Also, the country's freedom from corruption rates highly - Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index 2012 ranks Barbados as 2nd in the Americas and 15th among 176 countries.
These positive features have also contributed to Barbados' ranking in the Index of Economic Freedom 2013 as the 6th freest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean and 39th in the world. Barbados is also ranked by the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 as having the 3rd most stable banking system in the Western Hemisphere.
Barbados is one of the most stable and prosperous states in the Caribbean, with steady economic growth and low inflation. The government of Barbados is committed to maintaining the country's attractiveness as a centre for international business and has created Invest Barbados to enhance the country's responsiveness in the competitive global environment.
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Low Corporate Taxes
Barbados is a reputable, low-tax jurisdiction for international business, having a high level of transparency, disclosure and procedures for tax information exchange. Multinational companies can minimize their global tax burden by using a Barbadian entity to conduct business overseas.
Barbados offers a range of tax-efficient vehicles through which international business can be conducted. These international business entities enjoy tax and other incentives locally, including low rates of corporate tax, exemption from withholding tax on dividends or other income paid to non-residents, exemption from taxes on the transfer of certain assets or securities to non-residents and freedom from exchange controls. Capital gains are not taxed in Barbados and the recently instituted participation exemption regime, exempts from tax the dividends that a Barbadian resident company receives from an overseas company in which it has a substantial shareholding. International business entities which establish themselves as regular business companies can be granted export allowances with the potential to reduce the effective tax rate to 1.75%.
Well-Regulated Business Environment
Barbados has established a strong regulatory framework for its international business sector. Clear and strong legislation provides stringent guidelines for good governance which are in turn enforced by regulators in each sector. Barbados' approval by the OECD speaks to the strength of this regulatory system.
The regulators are the Central Bank of Barbados, the Financial Services Commission, and the International Business Unit.
High international rankings
Barbados ranks highly among both developed and developing nations in several global indices covering areas of social, economic and financial importance.
See our International Rankings Table