CASTRIES, St Lucia -- On January 1, 2016, Saint Lucia joined other sovereign states in the competition to attract global citizens to its island. Competing mainly with the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia seems to have nailed the right strategy. But will that guarantee success?
Saint Lucia has had the privilege to observe and learn from its neighbours' mistakes and triumphs and craft something unique, targeting the global elite of investors.
According to Armand Arton, president of Arton Capital, a leading advisory on second residence and citizenship solutions, "This is a ground-breaking announcement for all global citizens and of course for the country of Saint Lucia. It will bring great benefits to Saint Lucia's economy, with international investment set to increase dramatically, which will contribute greatly to the country's national development."
There are many similarities with its Caribbean neighbours but some aspects set Saint Lucia's offering apart.
As a starter, it is the only Caribbean island to have set a minimum net worth requirement (US$3 million). A practice widely used in European and North American programs, the aim is to guarantee a certain caliber and know-how of future citizens.
According to Arton, "This move will communicate to the world that Saint Lucia will handpick its future citizens."
In addition, chief executive officer of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, Cindy Emmanuel-McLean, confirmed that "due diligence and professionalism will be key parts of the standard procedures" at her recently-formed unit.
More investment options (varied risks)
Saint Lucia further diversified the qualified investment options by adding a government bond option and an approved enterprise investment project. For a family of four the required investment is US$250,000 (donation), US$300,000 (real estate), US$550,000 (government bonds), and US$3.5 million (enterprise investment project).
For an island nation with two airports and a passport index ranking of 25, Saint Lucia is well connected and respected around the world.
"Saint Lucia has a cherished country brand, and we hope it will attract like minded investors", said Dr Ernest Hilaire, chairman of the Citizenship by Investment Board.
Well over 110 countries have opened their borders for citizens of Saint Lucia, including the UK and Hong Kong.
According to the Citizenship by Investment Board, only 500 applicants will be accepted in 2016. Considering the overall industry trends, "our projections show that the program will be sold out by September of this year", shared Arton.
Saint Lucia's intentions to launch a CIP were first announced by Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony at the Global Citizen Forum in Monaco on October 7, 2015.