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Country Report Virgin Islands (British) 2nd Quarter 2018

Country Report Virgin Islands (British) 2nd Quarter 2018

  • June 2018
  • ID: 1698435
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • The government made changes to its immigration system in early March to accommodate the disorder that has plagued the territory since Hurricane Irma last year. There are no official statistics on how many people left the British Virgin Islands after the hurricane, but officials estimate that the population has decreased by at least 10,000 (out of an estimated 30,000 people in 2015). The government's changes will permit requests for permit renewals and extensions to be submitted electronically and processed in an applicant's absence to halt any further population exodus.
  • In April the legislature voted to accept an offer of a US$400m loan from the UK government to aid in the reconstruction from Hurricane Irma. The funds will be used to rebuild the territory's infrastructure, with the goal of making it more hurricane-resistant. However, the loan will come with conditions, including an agency to monitor spending and a UK government audit of the territory's public finances. This will be the first time that the UK government has exercised control over the islands' finances since the territory received financial autonomy in the 1970s.
  • In May the UK government passed legislation requiring that UK Overseas Territories implement public registries listing the beneficial owners of companies registered there by December 31st 2020. The decision caused consternation in the British Virgin Islands, which viewed it as an infringement on its autonomy by the UK government, and a threat to its economic well-being given the territory's dependence on business incorporations. In May more than 1,000 people marched in a protest against the decision.
  • Recent statistics show that real GDP contracted by 2.7% in 2017, largely reflecting damage sustained in Hurricane Irma, which caused damage worth US$3.6bn (370% of GDP). The contraction would have been more extreme if not for relatively strong performance before the hurricane struck. The territory was on track for another record year of tourist arrivals, although arrivals ground to a halt after the hurricane. The financial sector also continued to perform strongly, with overall new business incorporations rising year on year to 8,538 in the fourth quarter, up from 7,780 in the year-earlier period, although the number of BVI-registered companies continued to fall.
  • The BVI was the second-busiest offshore jurisdiction for mergers and acquisitions activity in 2017 according to Appleby, an offshore lawfirm. The territory says that the 505 deals made during the year were worth a total of US$37.8bn. Although this was down from US$45bn in 2016, Appleby commended the steady numbers, given that the territory was largely destroyed following Hurricane Irma.


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