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Curaçao: Offshore Business Sectors

Introduction

NB: The Netherlands Antilles as such ceased to exist in October 2010. This page deals with Curaçao, the largest component of the jurisdiction, which has taken its place in many respects.

The Netherlands Antilles originated as an offshore financial centre in the Second World War, when it provided a good destination for emigration for Dutch companies during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Since the war the Netherlands Antilles government has followed a consistent policy of encouragement towards international holding, finance, property and licensing companies, mutual funds and offshore banking. In Offshore Business Review we examine some of the main offshore business sectors in the Netherlands Antilles. For details of the legal basis of key sectors see Law of Offshore, and for details of taxation of offshore entities see Offshore Legal and Tax Regime.

On December 29th, 1999, the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles passed new tax legislation known as The New Fiscal Framework intended to improve the jurisdiction's image as an Offshore Financial Centre and to revitalise its financial services industry. The legislation, which came into force on 1st January 2002, removed the distinction between 'onshore' and 'offshore' companies, simplifies tax rates, and introduced a withholding tax. Alongside the tax legislation, a new corporate form was introduced to allow offshore operations on a tax-exempt basis: this is the NABV (Netherlands Antilles Besloten Vennootschap), and it has supplanted the offshore NV for many purposes (see Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes and Forms of Company).

As of April 1, 2001, special tax legislation for international Internet companies on Curaçao came into force to act as an incentive to persuade e-commerce companies to relocate their activities to the Island. The new law replaced the old Free Zone law and governs 'E-Zones' which are areas within the Netherlands Antilles where international trade and supporting services may be carried out by electronic communication and electronic commerce.

For further details see e-commerce.

A constitutional crisis erupted in the Netherland Antilles in 2004 owing to irreconcilable differences between the constituent islands and led to a joint Commission appointed by the Netherlands and the local government concluding that the jurisdiction should be broken up, with the islands of Curaçao and St Maarten becoming autonomous countries alongside the Netherlands and the Caribbean island of Aruba, whilst the remaining three islands - Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius - should be brought under the direct control of the Dutch government in The Hague.

This was approved by the Dutch cabinet in December 2004.

The transition process towards the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles began in July 2007 and the Netherlands Antilles as a jurisdiction within the Kingdom of the Netherlands was dissolved on October 10, 2010. Two new jurisdictions, Curaçao and St. Maarten, came into existence. The other three Islands, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius became Overseas Municipalities of the Netherlands (OMON).

The Dutch monarch has remained as the head of state and the Netherland continues to be responsible for foreign affairs and defense. The citizens of Curaçao continue to be Dutch nationals.

 

 

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