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Marshall Islands: Country and Foreign Investment

Executive Summary

The Marshall Islands are situated nearly midway between Indonesia and Hawaii, and are the easternmost island group in Micronesia .

British naval officer John Marshall gave his name to the islands in the 1700s. The Marshall Islands were under the control of Spain from 1500 to the late 1800s,Germany from 1885 to World War I, and Japan from 1917 to 1944. After the Second World War, the Marshall Islands became a United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under United States administration. The Republic of the Marshall Islands gained its independence in 1986, after signing the Compact of Free Association with the United States. The Republic became a full member of the United Nations in 1991.

The Constitution, signed in 1979, is a blend of American and British models of government and the official language is English. The Marshall Islands has enjoyed political stability since its independence as a nation.

The jurisdiction maintains a democratically elected parliamentary system of government.  Under the Marshall Islands' parliamentary system, the legislature known as the Nitijela, elects a President from among its members. In turn, the President nominates a Cabinet of 6 to 10 members.  The legal system consists of local courts whose judges are appointed by the Cabinet. The court system consists of local Courts of First Instance, a Traditional Rights Court with jurisdiction over real property matters and a High Court with maritime jurisdiction. Appeals may be brought before the Supreme Court in all cases.

Agriculture and tourism are the mainstays of the economy. The principal trading partners are the United States, Japan and Australia. Air transportation is facilitated by two international airports, plus airstrips scattered throughout the larger islands. There are twelve deepwater docks for large ocean-going ships. Excellent international communications are provided by satellite links for telephone, fax and e-mail. Banking services are provided by the Bank of Guam (which is FDIC insured) and the Bank of the Marshall Islands .

International Registries, Inc. (IRI) and its affiliates, with over 55 years of experience, are the Maritime and Corporate Administrators of the Republic of the Marshall Islands . With the adoption of a new Maritime Act in 1990, and subsequent amendments thereto, the maritime laws of the Republic are in line with the many changes in ship registration, financing and licensing that have occurred over the years in the shipping industry.

The Marshall Islands registry is now the third largest and fastest growing open registry in the world. Vessels and yachts may be registered if owned by a Marshall Islands corporation, limited or general partnership, limited liability company or a foreign maritime entity qualified in the Marshall Islands.

First enacted in 1990, the corporate law is one of the most modern in the world. Although based on US corporate law, the Marshall Islands law contains unique provisions enabling the use of British-style corporate management. The Marshall Islands is a zero tax jurisdiction that statutorily exempts non-resident domestic corporations from taxation on their income and assets. Entity formation is simple and corporate documents can be issued in one day. The Marshall Islands also permits corporate redomiciliation both into and out of the jurisdiction.

The Marshall Islands Maritime and Corporate Programs offer many unique advantages for the investor, shipowner, and international businessperson.



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