Trinidad and Tobago is at an exciting time in its development and is well poised to be the location of choice for foreign direct investment. Consistent with the global trend, we are witnessing in Trinidad and Tobago businesses large and small directing their energy and resources toward core activities, in pursuit of their unique competitive advantage. This has led to the increasing demand for outsourced services in “non-core” areas, such as accounting, taxation, human resources, payroll and corporate secretarial compliance.
An investor wishing to establish a place of business in Trinidad and Tobago has the option to incorporate a local company or register a branch of their external company. Companies in Trinidad and Tobago are governed by the Companies Act, 1995, which imposes stringent responsibilities on the directors and officers to ensure that the company remains in compliance with the requirements of the Act. Both locally incorporated companies and external companies are required to file prescribed forms within the time limits mandated by the Act. Failure to comply will result in late filing penalties being imposed. Many local and foreign investors choose to go to an outsourcing provider to maintain their company’s statutory corporate filings and records, as they do not have the expertise or time to manage this function in-house.
Companies rely on the outsourcing provider to meet deadlines and take proactive measures, thus allowing them to focus on their core activities.
A foreign investor who intends to work in Trinidad and Tobago, or employ non-nationals to work in Trinidad and Tobago, needs to be cognizant of our Immigration Laws. The Immigration Act states that a work permit must be obtained for each non-national to be employed in Trinidad and Tobago, whether for gain or not, for any period exceeding 30 days in twelve consecutive months.
An application for a Work Permit may be made on behalf of the expatriate by either the company in Trinidad and Tobago wishing to employ such person, or an outsourcing provider in Trinidad and Tobago acting on behalf of the foreign-based company.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) continues to be committed to diversifying the economy. There are no restrictions to investment and the foreign ownership of companies is permitted. Currently, a foreign investor is permitted to own one hundred percent of the shares in a local private company and is also permitted to own up to thirty percent of the shares in a local public company, without requiring a license. In addition, foreign Investors are permitted to purchase one acre of land in Trinidad for residential purposes and five acres of land in Trinidad for trade or business, without a license. However, all foreign investors desirous of purchasing land in Tobago are required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance.
GORTT continues to facilitate the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. Through TTBizLink, a Single Electronic Window, the average processing time for company registrations has been reduced from 7 days to 3 days and the processing time for import/export permits has reduced from 4 weeks to 1 day. They have also created the institutional infrastructure to improve the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago, with agencies such as InvesTT, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre, and Trinidad and Tobago Free Zones Company Limited.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most prosperous countries in the region and, with its educated, skilled, English-speaking workforce and stable political environment, is poised to be among the next wave of investment destinations. Outsourcing providers are becoming an asset to foreign investors and returning nationals because they ensure a seamless transition. Investors want to hit the ground running and stay focused on their core activities.
Aegis is the market leader in the provision of the most comprehensive range of services in all aspects of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Corporate Secretarial Compliance. Foreign and local investors engage Aegis to act on their behalf to manage the range of services that are required throughout their company’s life span.