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Turks and Caicos: Country and Foreign Investment

Economy and Currency

The three pillars of the economy are tourism, fishing and financial services.

Pristine beaches, excellent diving and the islands' location just 90 minutes flying time from Miami have helped the development of the tourist industry. In 2012, the total number of visitors to the islands was down slightly on the previous year with 975,583. The majority of these were cruise arrivals with a total of 676,647. Out of the 298,936 land based arrivals, 229,577 were Americans. Direct flights from Halifax, Nova Scotia, are raised the numbers of Canadian arrivals during 2012 to 35,253.

There is a small fishing industry based around the export of lobsters and cray fish to the United States.

The introduction of the Companies Ordinance 1981 is widely credited with having kick-started the development of the financial services sector. In 1989 the industry took on a more formal structure with the creation of the Financial Services Commission designed to regulate and supervise all financial services activities. The Commission is headed up by the Financial Services Commissioner who is appointed by and answerable to the British Governor. Representing 7% of the economy, the offshore financial services sector ranks behind tourism as the main source of income in the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, the sector remains one of the key elements of the islands economy providing employment in the public and private sectors.

Due to lack of employment opportunities in the 1960s and 1970s many citizens (known locally as "Belongers") emigrated to the United States and Bahamas in search of work. However due to the growth in tourism and financial services the situation has now reversed itself with "Belongers" returning and immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic providing most of the unskilled labour.

Most food and nearly all capital and consumption goods are imported. Since there are virtually no taxes payable in the islands the major sources of Government revenue include fees from offshore financial services and customs receipts on imported goods.

The Islands' currency is the US dollar.

The Turks and Caicos Islands recent economic success was evidenced by the fact that the United Kingdom stopped providing grant aid for a number of years. However, allegations of corruption within the local government, combined with the impact of the financial crisis and a narrow revenue base have conspired to create a fiscal crisis, and the UK government stepped in to provide USD260m worth of financial support to the island in 2011 in the form of loans and a credit facility. A review of the country's fiscal regime is also leading to the introduction of new taxes. The authorities are aimed to balance the books by 2013.

 

 

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