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  • 1. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURAÇAO May 2007 Caribbean Export Development Agency P.O.Box 34B, Brittons Hill St. Michael BARBADOS Tel: 246-436-0578; Fax: 246-436-9999 E-mail: info@carib-export.com Website: www.carib-export.com
  • 2. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO TABLE OF CONTENTS1. GENERAL INFORMATION..................................................................................... 32. THE ECONOMY........................................................................................................ 5 2.1 Economic Data.................................................................................................... 5 2.2 Structure of the Economy ................................................................................... 5 2.3 Prices and Income ............................................................................................... 6 2.4 Employment........................................................................................................ 6 2.5 Economic Outlook .............................................................................................. 7 2.6 Imports ................................................................................................................ 7 2.7 Exports ................................................................................................................ 8 2.8 Curacao – CARICOM Relations ........................................................................ 83. GENERAL MARKETING FACTORS................................................................... 10 3.1 Import and Distribution System........................................................................ 10 3.2 General Market Conditions............................................................................... 11 3.3 Payment System................................................................................................ 11 3.4 Travel and Transportation................................................................................. 114. MARKET ACCESS.................................................................................................. 13 4.1 General Import Policy....................................................................................... 13 4.2. Foreign Exchange Control ................................................................................ 14 4.3 Labelling and Marking Requirements .............................................................. 145 INVESTMENT PROFILE........................................................................................ 16 5.1 Foreign Investment Regime.............................................................................. 16 5.2 Economic Free Zones ....................................................................................... 176. ESTABLISHMENT OF BUSINESSES ................................................................... 19 6.1 Establishing an Office....................................................................................... 19 6.2 Work Permit Requirements............................................................................... 19 6.3 Intellectual Property.......................................................................................... 197. CULTURAL PRACTICES....................................................................................... 21 7.1 Business Hours.................................................................................................. 21 7.2 Entry/Exit Requirements................................................................................... 21APPENDIX....................................................................................................................... 22
  • 3. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO Netherlands. Curacao, the largest of the1. GENERAL INFORMATION islands, with a land area of 309 square miles, it is located to the north of Venezuela andOfficial Name: Curacao lies to the southwest tip of the Caribbean island chain. It is generally a flat islandArea: 170 Square miles (444 square although the southern parts contain thekilometers) highest peak in the country. That is St. Christoffel which is 1 200 feet high.Capital: Willemstad Curacao is 38 miles long and between three and nine miles wide.Climate: Tropical Climate: The average temperature isPopulation: 138 000 (2006). Being the 28 Degrees Celsius (76 Degrees Fahrenheit).largest and most prosperous of the Unlike the other countries of the EasternNetherland Antilles, Curacao accounts for Caribbean, Curacao does not experiencethe majority of the population in the high levels of rainfall. The island liesNetherland Antilles. About 85 percent of the outside of the Atlantic Hurricane zone.population on the island is of Africandescent. The remainder is made up of Religion: Roman Catholic is the mainvarying races and nationalities. These religion of Curacao. However, there areinclude Dutch, Portuguese, North Americans others that are present on the island:and people from other Caribbean islands and Anglicans, Muslim, Protestant, Baptist,from Latin America, and Asia. It is also the Hindu, and Jewish.home to a number of migrants. Government: GovernmentLanguage: Dutch, Papiamento, English, administration in the territory is guided by aSpanish political system which was put in place in 1954. This democratic system was derivedLife Expectancy: 76 years (men) 79 from the European Parliamentary experienceyears (women) based on the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It grants self government to theLiteracy Rate: 98 percent islands, as it relates to internal affairs. However, defense and foreign policy are theEconomy: Oil Refining, Tourism, responsibility of the Government of theOffshore Financial Services, Wholesale and Netherlands. Aruba opted out in the 1980s.Retail, Manufacturing and Agriculture. Every five years the population of the islands elects an Island Council thatGeography: A Caribbean island, Curacao nominates a number of Commissioners. Thewas colonized by the Netherlands. It is also Parliament consists of 21 seats, with 13part of the island chain of the Netherland assigned to Curacao, three each to BonaireAntilles. The others consist of Bonaire, St. and St. Maarten and one each to Saba andEustatius and Saba. The Netherland Antilles St. Eustatius However, under a new politicalis an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the structure, Curacao and the other islands will
  • 4. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAObecome separate countries effective from • Radio HoyerDecember 2008. This new political structure • Easy FMwas formalized between the leaders of the • Dolphin FMfour islands making up the NetherlandAntilles and the Dutch Government in 6.3 PUBLIC HOLIDAYSHolland. New Year’s Day January 1Education: The education system in Carnival February 22Curacao is highly developed.The system Good Friday When dueoperates from kindergarden through Easter When dueprimary, secondary and tertiary level. The Queen’s Day April 30standard is on par with other countries in the Labor Day May 1Caribbean and has been highly successful in Ascension Day May 25training nationals to meet the requirements Curacao Flag Day July 2of the country.Higher education is provided Antilles Day October 21by the University of the Netherland Antilles. Christmas Eve December 24 (halfThere is also a Teachers Training College. day)The island has two universities and there is Christmas Day December 25an accredited international school where Boxing Day December 26children of foreign nationals attend classes. New Year’s Eve December 31 (half day)Weights and Measures: Curacao usesthe metric system.Electricity: Electricity used is the 110-139 volts. You are also required to travelwith your adapter/transformer for yourlaptop, cell phone and hairdryer.Time Zone: Netherland Antilles timezone is four hours behind Greenwich MeanTime. The country therefore falls within theAtlantic Standard time zone.MediaNewspapers • La Prensa • AmigoeTelevision • Tele CuracaoRadio
  • 5. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO following the discovery of oil in nearby Venezuela and the subsequent establishment2. THE ECONOMY of oil refineries on the island. Curacao is usually a hive of activity with oil tankers representing a number of international oil2.1 Economic Data companies brining to the country raw crude for processing into a number of finished Table 1 – Economic Data 2006 products – gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and different grades of fuel used in differentGDP US $4.0 industries. From Curacao the finished Billion petroleum products are transported toReal GDP Growth 0.8% markets in the region, North America andTourism Growth 5.0% Europe.Unemplopyment 14.7% 2.2.3 Financial ServicesYouth Unemployment 37.6%Inflation 3.0% Curacao has built up an international reputation as a major domicile for international financial services firms. This industry has been built around a competent2.2 Structure of the Economy infrastructure comprising legal, accounting, telecommunications and regulatory services2.2.1 Tourism and a pool of trained multilingual workforce. The island has become aLike many small islands across the domicile for many USA InvestmentCaribbean, tourism is one of the main managers looking to create offshoreeconomic sectors in Curacao. It has investment funds.contributed significantly to economicgrowth and employment. Rising occupancy Curacao boasts as well a highly developedlevels have helped to keep tourism and commercial and investment banking systemeconomic growth on a stable course. While with the Central Bank at the apex of that2001 was a significant year for the industry system. Among the branches of internationalwhen long stay passenger arrivals numbered and regional banks are First Caribbean1.14 million, other years have been International Bank which operates across theimportant even if arrivals did not match Caribbean and RBTT Holdings Limited, athose numbers. Figures on long stay arrivals Trinidadian owned bank which is alsoin 2006 totaled 1.08 million. Cruise ship present in jurisdictions in the Easternpassenger arrivals peaked at 195 105 in Caribbean.2003, declined the two following yearsbefore increasing to just under 100 000 in 2.2.4 Wholesale and Retail.2006. These are two fully developed areas of the2.2.2 Oil Refining economy, which have helped to transform the island into a good location for shopping,This is the principal industry in Curacao. especially for the cruise ship passengersThis economic activity was created visiting the island. Apart from specific
  • 6. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOlocations the country’s international airport given the demand from the hotel sector forand seaports boast a number of retail indigenous products in both the constructionestablishments which provide duty free and operational phases of the hotels.shopping for visitors. In addition,construction of new hotels and expansion tothe country’s international airport have led 2.3 Prices and Incometo more output within the wholesale andretail trade. Although rising in recent years the general level of prices in Curacao has tended to be2.2.5 Agriculture and Fisheries rather low in recent years. Overall consumer price inflation has averagedAlthough not as significant as the other key around 1.4 percent between 2001 and 2004.sectors, this segment of the national However, prices picked up in 2005 and 2006economy contributes to economic activity. on account of was almost four percent inIts contribution is about one percent. It is 2005 and remained at a similar amount inwide ranging and output includes 2006. This spike in prices stemmed fromvegetables, flowers, livestock (poultry, pigs increasing oil prices and was reflected in theand cattle) and fish. The sector is food and beverage index of the basket ofcharacterized by the small domestic market, goods used in compiling the Retail Pricelabour intensiveness and extensive means of Index.production. However, one of the strongpoints is the high quality products, includingornamental plants, which are readily 2.4 Employmentaccepted and embraced throughout theisland. The sector faces competition from Out of a labour force of approximately 63imports, but there remains confidence in the 038, some 53 797 persons in Curacao wereindustry given that a number of products are employed at the end of 2006.supplied to the hotel industry. With hotel Unemployment numbered 9 241 persons orconstruction picking up the prospects appear about 14.7 percent of the labour force.bright for the sector. Government services accounts for the majority of the jobs followed by the tourism2.2.6 Manufacturing. and the energy sectors. Over the years unemployment has tended to be high. ThisThe manufacturing sector consists of a stemmed from business failures in the airlinenumber of small and medium sized and manufacturing segments of theenterprises. They are very relevant to the economy. However, it was only within theeconomy of Curacao in that they provide last two years (2005 and 2006) thatjobs and contribute to economic activity. unemployment has declined. In an attemptHandicraft, small items, printing, souvenirs to ensure that more people find jobs theportraying historic Curacao items and some Government has intensified the trainingfood and beverages make up the items programmes for prospective employeesmanufactured Approximately 4 000 while the minimum wage was increased. Apersons are employed in manufacturing by system tightening up on the influx of foreignthe 300 plus companies in the industry. labour into the country has also beenAlthough manufacturing faces competition instituted.from imports improved output is expected
  • 7. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO with emphasis being placed on manufacturing and agriculture. Table 2 - Labour Market Indicators The Governor of the country’s Central Bank 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 believes that these policies should liftEmployment 49 056 52 137 51 474 51 343 53 797 economic growth beyond the average of oneUnemployed 9 056 9 274 9 861 11 392 9 241Labour Force 58 112 61 411 61 335 62 735 63 038 percent realized between 2001 and 2006.Total Population 127 893 130 132 207 135 474 138 027 191 One area of the public sector activity which needs to be improved going forward is the Source: CBS Labour Market Survey. Government’s fiscal position. The Governor believes that high fiscal deficits, combined with slower economic growth in recent years 2.5 Economic Outlook resulted in a rising debt-to – GDP ratio. He concludes that sound policies are necessary The Federation of the Netherland Antilles is to enhance the country’s competitive due to come to a close by December 15, position. 2008. As a consequence of this, the individual countries in the grouping will 2.6 Imports assume responsibility for a wider area of activities than is presently the case. The Because of a liberalized economic policy public debt, foreign affairs, and economic Curacao’s imports have been on the decision making will fall under the ambit of increase. Official data show that the level of the island’s administration. However, imports into the country totaled well over according to economic planners in Curacao US$1.5 billion at the end of 2006. Five years the economic outlook appears very positive. earlier the amount was US$1.3 billion. Food and beverages are the principal imports into Investment in the tourism infrastructure the country. As was mentioned earlier continues to increase and the Government is agriculture is not a fully developed sector in expanding the local infrastructure in an Curacao leading to the country having to attempt to attract more visitors to the island, source foreign food supplies. and to create jobs. There was a major project expanding the country’s international Food and beverage imports are followed by Airport while the construction of new hotels machinery and transport equipment, is taking place. according to the data posted by the Central bureau of Statistics, Netherland Antilles. Invest Curacao, an organization involved in Other principal imports are chemicals. investment promotion, said that international financial services sector is being promoted The United States, the Netherlands and to attract more foreign investment, while Venezuela are the main sources of imports. economic diversification is also underway
  • 8. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOTable 3 Company Imports By SITCSITC SECTION Description 2001 2002 2003 2004 20050 Food and Lived Animals 244 248 276 277 2991 Beverage & Tobacco 29 35 41 46 492 Crude Materials, Inedible 12 8 14 46 18 except fuels4 Animal & Vegetable Oils, 6 8 7 7 7 Fats & Waxes5 Chemicals and related 124 124 198 180 193 products6 Manufactured Goods, 248 188 194 210 198 classified by material7 Machinery & Transport 511 389 418 423 460 Equipment8 Miscellaneous 219 231 230 267 280 Total Imports 1393 1231 1378 1423 1504 Source: 2007 Central Bureau of Statistics, Netherland Antilles. The commercial relations between Curacao2.7 Exports and CARICOM continue to mushroom. InExports of goods and services from Curacao what amounts to an example of South-have improved with 2006 being a relatively South relations the two sides have beengood year for the sector. Exports are pursing cooperation in a wide range ofdominated by the petroleum sector as well areas. These include trade, investment,as re-exports from the E-Zone. The main tourism, and support within the internationalexports from the island are petroleum fora where it is possible.products and these are sent to markets acrossthe region and North America. The higher Curacao which has observer status withexports of petroleum products stemmed CARICOM, is a member of the Caribbeanfrom the rising international price of oil Tourism Organization, and the Caribbeanwhich hovered around US$76 a barrel. in Hotel Association.2006. increased visitor arrivals and thecontinuing buoyancy of the offshore sector In 2007 Curacao’s national carrier Insetcontributed to the improved performance by commenced air services between that islandthe export sectors. Agriculture and and Trinidad and Tobago. Curacaomanufacturing are not as robust in Curacao welcomed a visit by the CARICOMas in the other Eastern Caribbean islands. Secretary General, Edwin Carrington and hosted the Caribbean Hotel Tourism and Investment Conference, and the Caribbean2.8 Curacao – CARICOM Relations Gift and Trade Show, organized by the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
  • 9. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOIn addition, a trade mission from Curacaowas in Barbados looking into thepossibilities for more trade.
  • 10. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO 3.1.1 Distribution and Sales Channels3. GENERAL MARKETINGFACTORS 3.1.1.1 Wholesale Food Distribution. Agriculture in Curacao is not as fully developed as in other islands of the Eastern3.1 Import and Distribution System Caribbean. As such Curacao has been importing the bulk of the food consumed onCuracao has a wide assortment of outlets the island. Wholesalers account for about 90that are involved in the import and percent of the food imported into Curacao.distribution of both goods and services. The Wholesalers have been sourcing foodswholesale and retail sector is highly mainly from the United States, Europe,developed. There are the wholesalers who especially the Netherlands, and from nearbysell directly to Government and the retailers Latin America. They in turn distribute foodwho in turn sell to smaller shops. to the retailers and hoteliers and smaller shops and specialty outlets. The wholesalersThe import and distribution system in have established strong relationships withCuracao is highly developed. Several factors foreign suppliers. Buying Clubs, Shoppingaccount for this. In the first place the Malls, also make up the distributionGovernment has continued the policy of channels.liberalizing trade by removing many of theprevious impediments which had stifled to 3.1.1.2 Retail Food Distributors.some extent the growth of imports. Supermarkets are the main food retailers inSecondly, Curacao is an affluent society Curacao. Many of the larger ones have floorwith per capita income and purchasing space of about 30 000 square feet They offerpower of its inhabitants high compared to a wide assortment of foods which aremany middle income developing countries. supplemented by in store deli facilities,Coinciding with this is the growth of the bakeries, snack bars and frozen meats andtourism industry which has triggered a fish. They retail as well local supplies ofdemand for imported food, although vegetables, some fruits and nuts anddomestic production plays a part. beverages. There are smaller supermarkets, mini marts, and specialty stores which caterA third factor relates to the excellent to lower income workers.shipping and transshipment facilities whichthe island boasts. Curacao is also a location for a number of foreign franchises in the food business.Because of the Caribbean Basin Initiative Names like McDonald, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s,which grants duty free access to the USA Denny, Kentucky, and Domino Pizza aremarket for Curacao products and the some of the American fast food outlets inpreferences some countries enjoy in Europe, the country. Others from Indonesia, China,these initiatives have spawned greater and France, and some indigenous operatorsconnection between Curacao and the complete the mix of restaurants in theindustrialized states. country.
  • 11. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO In addition, the island’s government has3.1.2 Use of Agents and Distributors changed the regulations with respect to the opening hours. Stores are now openedWhile the wholesalers in Curacao dominate Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. tothe import trade, supermarkets have also midnight, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. onbeen attempting to by-pass wholesalers by Sundays and bank Holidays.undertaking their own importation. This in This expansion of the opening hours foreffect is aimed at providing cheaper stores provides more time for shopping.products to the clientele of the retailers. Tothis end they have established agents inthose markets to effect direct importing. 3.3 Payment System Importers of merchandise into Curacao can source funding from many areas of the3.2 General Market Conditions financial system. Up front the importers are given credit that lasts from 30 days until 90Competition in the wholesale/retail sector is days. Financing imports are usuallyvery fierce. While Curacao shoppers are undertaken by commercial banks as therevery price sensitive, they also look for are no restrictions to imports and no foreignpopular brands, two factors which inform exchange controls are in place. However,the product offering of wholesalers and accompanying the applications for theretailers. financing of imports, companies are required to forward such data like bill of lading,Consumers are very mindful of the quality invoices, and customs clearancegoods which come out of North America documentation. Interest rates are charged atand Europe. Retailers are very mindful of the prevailing rates in the country.this and it has many of them offering salesand special discounts, while they payparticular attention to the layout of the 3.4 Travel and Transportationmerchandise on shelves in an attempt toattract consumer interest. Furthermore, The Travel and transportation system inproduct ranges have increased with more Curacao is highly developed. At the apex ofstores offering jewellery, cameras, and this system are the Hato Internationalelectronic equipment. Many of these are Airport and the Willemstad Port, one ofoffered at duty free stores which are heavily four, which provide excellent internationalpatronized by the hundreds of visitors, and transportation facilities and an equallynotably cruise ship passengers, to the island. important domestic system.New brands, designer layouts, local The Curacao airport is the main gateway inhandicraft items and the latest in fashions and out of the country. The airport whichare also factored into the stores’ offerings. has the longest runway in the Caribbean, 3New stores are opened regularly. The 410 meters, has direct flights to severalgrowth in the sector was estimated to have international destinations, including theincreased 15 percent in 2006. Caribbean and Latin America. Among the countries and cities where Curacao has
  • 12. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO direct flights are Amsterdam (Netherlands), The major seaports are St. Annabaal, New York, Miami, Atlanta, San Juan, Willemstad, Caracasbaal, and Bullenbaai. Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and They offer extensive docking facilities and Panama. service major shipping lines bringing both crude and passengers to the country. Official Airlines serving the country also include information revealed that there was an American Airlines, KLM, Arrefly, overall increase in the number of vessels Caribbean Airlines, Air Jamaica, others calling at the ports in Curacao. from Latin America. Table 2.5 Performance of the Harbours Excel Air operates services between Curacao and Bonaire. An estimated 1.08 Freighters Tankers Cruise Others Total million passengers passed through 2005 1289 907 204 426 2 Curacao’s International Airport in 2006, 826 compared to 1.01 million the previous year. 2006 1 304 920 205 460 2 889 In 2006 passenger facility charge (or Diff % 1.2 1.4 0.5 8.0 2.2 departure tax) was increased from US$23 to US$32 on international flights. The tax for Public Transport: Internal transportation is passengers traveling between the Netherland provided by a bus system as well as what is Antilles is US$6. called a mini-bus system, and taxis. Visitors can also rent a car. The bus service operates Table 2.4 Airport Passenger Movement on a schedule system. There are two bus terminals in Curacao. One terminal is at 2003 2004 2005 2006 Pundra which is close to the post office, andTotal Passengers 1 1 1 1 the other is at Otrobanda. Both the bus 149 121 013 089 service and the mini-bus service operate 689 234 319 492 from the terminals.Transit Passengers 195 170 101 134 105 796 059 738Domestic Passengers N/A 81 95 98 257 857 231 Source: CAP. Curacao boasts at least four major seaports. Their importance is underlined by the fact that the country is ranked 10th most popular cruise ships destination in the world, it a leading transshipment point in the Caribbean, it handles an enormous tonnage of raw and refined crude and it has export zone facilities.
  • 13. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO applies to such imported products as rice,4. MARKET ACCESS tea, coffee, flour and sugar. Import duties applied to these range products range between zero percent and 18 percent. Excise4.1 General Import Policy duties are levied on beer, cigarettes, spirits and gasoline. For pharmaceuticals,Curacao operates a free market economy pesticides, narcotics and psychotropic drugs,which has been largely liberalized and non there are different import regulations. Strictdiscriminatory. This means that by and large rules are followed when dealing with thesethe country’s import policy is very amenable products. In addition, registration is requiredto trade. prior to importing these products.The laws which govern importation of goods 4.1.2 Import Dutiesinto the country (and indeed the NetherlandAntilles) are the General Ordinance Import, Import duties cover a wide range of goodsExport and Transit and the National and commodities with rates of up to 28Ordinance on the Tariffs of Import Duties. percent on the c.i.f value. Some sample rates are as follows:All importers and their agents are requiredto submit an Import Declaration which Tourist items and certain food stuffsshould include the following: including fresh chicken and sardines, milk, cheese, watches , gold coins, perfumes, • Invoice stating the value, type and confectionery and cameras up to three quality of the good or goods percent. imported. • Bills of lading Luxury goods including mirrors, pianos and • Insurance certificates air conditioners, 28 percent. • Import license General goods, including clothing and some • Permits and certificates where food staples, 11.5 percent. necessary • Value of declaration form for goods. Semi luxury goods, including flowers, playing cards, washing machines, 18Upon approval of the application (usually percent.within 48 hours) an assessment notice willbe generated reflecting total taxes payable.In the absence of invoices, the goods will be 4.1.4 Special Customs Provisionexamined by a Customs Officer. This mustbe paid before the cargo is released. Certain There are special custom provisions in placegoods may be released pending a guarantee in Curacao. In special circumstances once aof the duty and tax liability. clear-cut case is made rules can be adjusted to meet special requirements. In the event4.1.1 Import Tariff System that technical equipment and specific materials are needed for special eventsThere is an import registration system in which require the importation of items theplace in Curacao. This system usually Custom Authority of the Netherland Antilles
  • 14. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOwill determine if a temporary or permanentexemption of import duties is applicable inaccordance with the rules. 4.2. Foreign Exchange ControlEvents for which these provisions apply are: In an attempt to attract foreign investments• a trade, industrial, agricultural or craft the governments in the islands making upexhibition , fair or similar show is held: the Netherland Antilles tend to be somewhat• an exhibition or meeting which is liberal as this relates to exchange controlsprimarily organized to promote any branch and the repatriation of profits by companiesof learning, art, craft, sport or scientific, owned by foreign businessmen. There areeducational or cultural activity; laws which may impose foreign exchange• a meeting of representatives of any controls and which may affect dividends,international organization or group. interest, or other payments to non-resident holders of securities in the countries.There are exceptions. These relate toexhibitions organized for private purposes in Therefore, companies owned by non-shops or businesses with a view to the sale residents that do not carry on business on theof foreign goods. There are some goods islands may obtain a license from thewhich will be granted temporary admission. Central Bank which exempts them from allThey include computers, audio visual exchange control regulations. Transactionsequipment, special lighting systems and including foreign exchange in themusical equipment. Netherland Antilles attract a one percent license tax payable by the bank concerned toIt is advisable that organizations contact the Central Bank. The repatriation of profitsCustom authorities in advance of the event. from the islands requires a license but these are granted on application.4.1.4.1 Samples and CarnetsMost importers doing business with foreign 4.3 Labelling and Markingsuppliers tend to request samples of products Requirementsbefore they are actually put on sale in exportmarkets. Agencies that receive, store and While Curacao has opened up its economysell imported products must be registered to more trade and investment flows thewith the Chamber of Commerce and authorities are more mindful of some of theIndustry in Curacao. Product samples hazards that open trade can create.shipped via express mail or parcel post are International trade rules make allowancessubject only to import regulations. for countries to guard against imports which are detrimental to human and theThe addressee is responsible for the duty on environment. As such there are rules whichsamples and order shipments. Exporters govern the appropriate labelling andmust ensure that the agents receiving the packaging of products exported to Curacao.goods must be informed of and agree to Previously these were not enforced.accept the pending samples to avoid beingreturned to source and at the cost of Labelling and packaging regulations applyexporters. to food and beverages. The regulations
  • 15. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOfurther stipulate that there must be certainspecific labels for pharmaceuticals.
  • 16. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO • Continuation of the privatization5 INVESTMENT PROFILE program; • Public sector reform to modernize the tax regime and the role of5.1 Foreign Investment Regime government and to improve the flow of public sector information to theThe Government of Curacao has undertaken private sector; anda number of initiatives to enhance the • Undertake regional and internationalcountry’s investment policy regime. This benchmarking of the island’s policieswas done to re-position the island in a way so as to raise the island’sto attract more Foreign Direct Investment so international profile.as to boost sustainable economic growth anddevelopment. In addition, the CIFA has developed a four- year strategic plan for the island’s financialAt the domestic level the Government has services sector. The aim of the 2007 -2010intensified its programmes in the area of plan is to use the existing infrastructure –education and training with the hope of financial rules, regulations, legislation andhaving a greater pool of trained personnel to international treaties – to support andenter the knowledge - based industries, track accelerate the economic development ofreforms and other measures to create a more Curacao. The short to medium termed areasenabling environment for the private sector. of the plan include:This latter initiative is also being undertaken •Concluding Double Taxationwith input from the Curacao International Agreements with Brazil,Financial Services Association (CIFA) and Argentina, Mexico, Chile andthe Chamber of Commerce. Venezuela; • Tailor-making investmentPolicies undertaken include: vehicles for trade flows between Curacao and Latin America; • Modernization of economic • Increasing the contribution of the legislation. To date this has resulted international financial services in new economic zone regulations, a sector to Curacao’s Gross new civil code with new standards Domestic Product by at least 50 for businesses. percent; • Participation of the country in large • Contributing to the development of regional projects to improve knowledge by endorsing better investment and business climate and education and leading edge cost international competitiveness; effective Information Technology • Publication of a Business infrastructure. Environment Report aimed at highlighting requirements for 5.1.1 Internal Taxes improving the business climate; • Market reforms (including labour The Income Tax is one of the main internal and capital market flexibility); taxes levied in Curacao. It is levied on all nationals born in Curacao. It is collected by
  • 17. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOemployers through the Pay As You Earn(PAYE) system. The tax starts at the rate of 5.1.5 Real Estate Taxes12.50 percent and reaches a high of 49percent. The tax is applied similar to the They are charged at the rate of 0.5 per centsystem in the Netherlands, as follows: per annum annually on the value of unimproved properties and 0.6 percent on • 12.50 percent on incomes of Nafl 23 improved properties. There is also in 000 Curacao a 15 percent municipal surcharge • 20 percent on incomes Nafl 23 000 on the amount due. There is as well an to 34 000 annual occupancy tax of five percent of • Over 20 percent on higher incomes rental value.In addition, there are basic deductionsrelating to allowances. 5.2 Economic Free Zones5.1.2 Profit Tax These entities are located at the harbour at Curacao and at Hato the country’sThis tax is levied on companies and other international airport. The Economic Freeentities including certain forms of Zones are secured and permanentlypartnerships, foundations, and associations maintained.engaged in trade or businesses. It rangesbetween 35 percent and 45 percent. It Free Zones are distribution centres forapplies to most of the companies established exporting to the Caribbean, the Americasin the Netherland Antilles and it is assessed and Europe. Locally produced goods foron the net benefits received by companies export to the USA and Europe are admittedinvolved. Special rules however applied to without import duties.dividend receipts, certain capital gains,income from foreign sources. In addition, there are no custom duty on imports, transshipment and/or export of5.1.3 Capital Gain Tax goods. Approximately 25 percent of the total sales may be made to the local market.This tax does not apply to individuals. Thesystem applies to gains resulting from Incentives for Free Zone operations are asbusiness activity or where they result from follows:the sale of shares of a company, togetherwith certain specific types of relative owned • zero percent import, export andor has owned 25 percent or more in the last excise duties;five years. • two percent profit tax on export5.1.4 Corporation Tax profits;This tax is levied at the rate of between 35 • -zero percent sales tax;percent and 40 percent on companiesoperating in the country. • Zero percent land and property taxes.
  • 18. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOHowever, there are some restrictions. Theseare that only at the Airport Economic Zoneand the Harbor Zone can goods be stored.Other incentives to foreigners include:reduced rents up to 40 percent for buildingin the Economic Zone, duty free buildingmaterials, machinery and equipment, anannual investment allowance up eightpercent of total investment for the first twofinancial years, and unlimited use of carryover losses.
  • 19. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO The Bureau for Intellectual Property (BIP) is6. ESTABLISHMENT OF the national administrative corporation thatBUSINESSES provides a central mechanism to enable right holders to exercise their intellectual property rights adequately and in accordance with6.1 Establishing an Office national and international standards. Intellectual Property comprises both property rights and copyrights.The procedure for investing in Curacao isnot complex. The most commonly used 6.3.1.1 Patentslegal business entity is the Limited LiabilityCompany which in the Netherland Antilles Curacao (and the Netherland Antilles) haveis referred to as NV (Naamboze strict rules governing patents. The law statesVennootschap). This indicates that the that an invention is patentable if it is new, ifliability of shareholders for the liabilities of it involves an inventive step, is capable ofthe NV is limited up to a maximum of their industrial application, and is not specificallyrespective obligations for capital contributed excluded from protection. Patentto the NV. applications are usually filed with the Netherland Industrial Property Office in theIn incorporating an entity, draft Articles of Netherlands or with the Bureau forIncorporation must be presented to the Intellectual Property. A patent providesNetherland Antilles’ Justice Department. protection in the Netherland Antilles. ThatFollowing this, the NV must be registered protection lasts for six years without awith the Chamber of Commerce and search report, or for 20 years with a searchindustry where the NV has a corporate seat. report.Details must also be published in theOfficial Gazette. 6.3.1.2 Trademarks Trademarks regulations are very all6.2 Work Permit Requirements embracing for the countries making up the Netherland Antilles. The regulations outlineBusiness licenses, Directors’ licenses for what constitute trademarks, the relevanteach non-Antillean managing director, signs capable of distinguishing goods orresidence and work permits and foreign services of a company or individual. Theexchange licenses, visa are also required for rules allow as well for the registrationpersonnel staying in the island beyond 14 service marks and collective marks. A verydays. important aspect of the regulation process is that the rights and duties of trademarks commence with their registration.6.3 Intellectual Property Registration is for 10 years initially after which the mark can be renewed.6.3.1 Laws of Patent, Trademarks andCopyright 6.3.1.3 Copyrights Like patents and trademarks, rules governing Copyright and the makers of
  • 20. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOthose rights are enforced in Curacao. is theexclusive right of the maker of a work of art,or science, publication (books, magazines,newspapers), drama, music, paintings,designs and sketches among other pieces ofworks. No formalities are required to obtainprotection of a copyright in the country.Such rights would be acquired through themere publication of the concerned work.However, for purposes of evidence, thecopyright owner can file the work with theBIP.
  • 21. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAO7. CULTURAL PRACTICES7.1 Business HoursCuracao is an important centre for business.As such business hours are from 7.30 a.m.12 noon and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.Monday through Friday.In addition, there is a mandatory 40 hours aweek for non-scheduled workers, and a 45hours a week for scheduled laborers.Exceptions however exist in the hotel andcatering industries where there is a 48 hourswork week.7.2 Entry/Exit RequirementsCaribbean nationals do not require a visa toenter Curacao. All they need is a validpassport. Canadian and US citizens requireeither a valid passport, or proof ofcitizenship in the form of an original birthcertificate, accompanied by a photo ID. Ifyou plan to stay in Curacao for more thanthree months, you will need to apply for aresident permit. To work in the country anindividual requires a work permit or aresident permit.
  • 22. DOING BUSINESS WITH CURACAOAPPENDIXUSEFUL ADDRESSESCuraçao Chamber of Commerce andIndustryKaya Junior Salas 1P.O.Box 10CURAÇAO, NETHERLANDSANTILLESTel: (5999) 461-1451/3918Fax: (5999) 461-5652Email: businessinfo@curacao-chamber.anWebsite: www.curacao-chamber.anCustoms OfficeSha Capriles Kade z/nCURAÇAO,NETHERLANDSANTILLESTel: (599-9) 434-5300Fax: (599-9) 461-6557E-mail: duanena@curinfo.anCuracao Industrial and InternationalTrade Development Company(CURINDE) NVEmancipatie Boulevard 7WillemstadCURAÇAO,NETHERLANDSANTILLESTel: (5999) 737-6000Fax: (5999) 737-1336E-mail:curinde@attglobal.netWebsite: www.curinde.comDepartment for DevelopmentCooperation (DEVCO)Plasa Horacio Hoyer 9CURAÇAO, NETHERLANDSANTILLESTel: 599-9-4611866 / 4612567Fax: 599-9-4611268E-mail: dvmtcoop@curinfo.an