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Profile of Curaçao

Curaçao the emerging neighbor in the Caribbean

Curaçao is located just 40 miles off the South American coast. It is easy to travel from Brazil to Curaçao – or vice versa- within a couple of hours. There are direct flights to Brazil and more will be added soon.

Curaçao underwent some important constitutional changes within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. One of the most visible changes is the dismantling of the entity of the Netherlands Antilles. Curaçao is indeed still part of the Dutch Kingdom, although with its autonomous status of “country” within the Kingdom. This new status has several advantages for Curaçao and also for its business partners, local and abroad.

Curaçao has a multi-cultural community and this is also reflected by the use of language. Curaçao has three official languages which are: Papiamentu- which is the native language, Dutch, and of course English. Spanish is very widely spoken in all ranks of society: from the youngsters who watch the “telenovelas“faithfully to the lady selling fish in the market, Spanish can be considered the fourth language. A segment of the population also speaks Portuguese, French and German.

Curaçao also has a stable political environment and a sound and reliable legal system. The legal system is based on the Dutch system which is a guarantee for transparency and an impartial administration of justice. Meaning that Curaçao has an:

  • Independent and high-quality legal structure with supreme court in the Hague, Netherlands
  • Civil and common law structure with strong connection to the European law
  • Free access to foreign currencies such as US Dollar and Euro

The Curaçao economy is quite diversified: trade, logistics, the international financial sector, tourism and Manufacturing are the most important economic pillars.

The fiscal system is in compliance with OECD standards with a standing on their white list! Curaçao also meet the most important requirements of the American tax authority (IRS). This means that Curaçao is not a ‘tax haven” but it has kept up with the quality demands of the international financial industry. The financial services offered are internationally recognized and are supervised by the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Curaçao has always been a center of trade, and this is now transforming into a hub function in the region. Curaçao has deep and wide natural harbors and is located outside the hurricane belt. The island also has good physical infrastructure including 2 other natural harbors, upgraded airport with a capacity of 1.6 million passengers and stable telephone and broadband internet connections. All this makes Curaçao a safe and successful environment for investors.

The Tourism Sector is also well developed. Curaçao is well equipped for: Business Tourism (Meetings, Conventions, Exhibition Facilities)

World standard Hotels, Restaurants & Entertainment are located on the island and last but not least Willemstad is ranked among the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites

On industry level Curaçao is equipped with

  • A dry dock for Ship Repairs
  • Petroleum Refinery
  • Manufacturing and Assembly
  • Well developed broadband internet and ICT infrastructure

Curaçao is also a Knowledge based economy

  • Transnational Education institutes
  • Immigration policy directed towards attracting brain & wealth
  • Multilingual & Highly Educated / Trained workforce

Curaçao has always been well known for its strategic geographical location with respect to the United States, South America and Europe. The main business partners are the United States, Europe - especially the Netherlands- and South America- especially Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.

Curaçao is the connecting point between continents

Curaçao can function as hub for Trade between Brazil with the Caribbean, North and Central America and Europe. It is located in the Atlantic time zone, 5 to 6 hours flight to Brazil and direct flights (daily) to Amsterdam.

Shipping

Curacao has been a recognized jurisdiction for the registration of commercial ships for over 50 years. Because of its naturally protected deep sea harbour, it is easily accessible by large freight ships. Curacao still has the largest dry dock facility in the entire Caribbean region because of its convenient location outside the hurricane belt.
The relatively small ship register of Curacao makes it easier to find tailor-made registration solutions. One of the great benefits of a Curacao registration is that the registered ship will fly the flag of the Netherlands, which is internationally recognized as a jurisdiction with high standards.
Besides the benefits of ship registration in Curacao, companies incorporated and domiciled in Curacao and active in shipping, can also benefit from a special tax regime called tonnage tax. Under this regime a company is taxed on its notional profit depending on the net tonnage capacity of the ship. Every legitimate use of a vessel outside the territorial waters of Curacao is eligible for tonnage tax. Oil rigs, inland operated ships, or any floating construction are also included.

E-Zone / Free Zone

The Curacao E-Zone consists of a series of physical locations that are appointed by the Curacao Minister of Economic Affairs to stimulate the development of local economy by offering import, export and general trading facilities as well as online services. Companies established in one of these zones enjoy a complete exemption from import duties and sales tax. Their profits are taxed at a flat rate of 2%. Because of the geographical location of Curacao, it is very interesting to create a regional hub function for European or Asian multinational businesses or to set up permanent trade fairs for the Latin American and Caribbean region, but also to use Curacao as a trans-shipment stop for high-value, low-volume goods that need a stable political environment, before being shipped to the consumer markets in Latin America.

Infrastructure to support virtual & physical logistics
Virtual E-zone: export of products e.g. agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, flowers, and services worldwide with no need for physical presence of goods

Physical E-zones: Distribution point, transshipment, manufacturing and assembly, same rules and regulations as the EU

ICT infrastructure and Internet Exchange: Curacao offers very well-developed information, communication and telecommunication fixed and mobile infrastructure and services meeting international quality standards. Fixed and mobile Broadband Internet access is widely available and supporting local and international businesses. Liberalized market conditions, state of the art datacenters, multiple telecommunication submarine cables and the Caribbean Internet Exchange hosting Internet service providers and international content delivery networks enable the well-developed ICT infrastructure.

Presence of multinationals in the field of services and banking (big 4 (e.g. E&Y), Amicorp, CITCO, Scotia Bank, Fortis, AIC International Financial Services, HBM Group) is a guarantee of availability of high level of knowledge.

FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) from countries such as the Netherlands, USA, Brazil, Colombia have been attracted to Curaçao.

Latest developments and future plans

  • The Development of country showcases and permanent expo’s i.e. Brazil, Colombia, China, Turkey
  • Direct Investment in shipping and port terminals
  • Expanding warehousing capacity
  • Airport being developed into an Airport City, space port and other aviation / space related activities (starting flights to space in 2014)
  • Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange
  • Continuous further innovation of the supporting ICT infrastructure including high speed Broadband Internet by the deployment of a Tier IV state of the art datacenter, deployment of 2 additional telecommunication submarine cables and the internationalisation of the Caribbean Internet Exchange.
  • A new foundation (SLS) dedicated to the development of Curaçao as a logistics hub.

Activities and incentives Curaçao can offer

The E-zone legislation.
An Economic Zone (E-zone) is a site designated as such, where goods can be processed or can undergo other operations, and where (or from where) services may be provided. There is no import duty or turnover tax charged on goods in de E-zone and the applicable profit tax is reduced to only 2%! No Turnover Tax, No Import Duties.

Besides the E-zone legislation the government of Curaçao also offers other arrangements that are meant to stimulate private investments and entrepreneurship. The underlying idea is also to increase employment on our island. So, basically Curaçao provides tax incentives to stimulate the productive sector that generate foreign exchange and create employment.

Trade arrangements

OCT: Curaçao benefits from the preferential trade agreement with the European Union under the Council Decision of the Association of the Overseas Countries and Territories. Most products can be exported duty free to the EU, provided that rules of origin are fulfilled and the product is in compliance with the minimum required value added in Curaçao.
CBI: In addition, we also benefit from preferential tariff treatment granted by the United States under the Caribbean Basin Initiative. Also in this case the product should meet certain criteria in order to qualify. Curaçao ensures reliable jurisdiction, reliable, efficient and highly reputable harbor, excellent fiscal planning and financial services.

 

From the Minister of Economic Development of Curacao From the President of the Curacao Chamber of Commerce From the Chairman of the Foundation of the Logistical Sector of Curacao
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