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Country Reports

Aruba Country Report

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Risk Level

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Overview

Executive Summary

The long-awaited reopening of Aruba’s oil refinery, which had prior capacity of 209,000 barrels per day (b/d), is likely to be delayed in the one-year outlook. In February 2019, US-based Venezuelan oil company Citgo deferred the USD685-million refurbishment of the refinery given US sanctions. Despite this setback, Aruba remains one of the most affluent countries in the Caribbean with tourism the mainstay of the economy, alongside well-developed offshore financial, insurance, and reinsurance service industries. We forecast 2.1% GDP growth in 2019.Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes of the People’s Electoral Movement (PEM) party heads a coalition government that holds a narrow but stable majority in the Staten with 12 out of 21 seats. Following the departure of former prime minister Mike Eman after the disappointing outcome of the 2017 election, the opposition Aruban People’s Party (APP) remains in a process of rebuilding its support, although the party is likely to offer a strong challenge to the PEM at the 2021 elections.Top policy priorities for 2019 include reducing the island’s debt, which stands at some 90% of GDP, by cutting public spending, attracting foreign direct investment to strengthen the tourism industry, offshore financial services and construction. In particular, the government is likely to continue with austerity measures to strengthen public finances and seek to refocus tourism towards more affluent segments by emphasising its capacity to provide a higher quality of service, rather than the mass tourism offered by some of the larger Caribbean islands. Aruba has a low crime rate by regional standards, with only rare incidents of violent crime directed at foreign visitors. Main tourist areas are safe, with few instances of street or opportunistic crime. Increasing migrant inflows from Venezuela have not increased crime rates so far. Nevertheless, Aruba is likely to remain a transhipment point for cocaine coming from Latin America to the US and Europe.
Last update: April 25, 2019

Operational Outlook

Aruba has a modern and well-developed infrastructure by regional standards and a business-friendly operational environment. Aruba is likely to attract foreign direct investment in the financial services, oil, and tourism industries in the one-year outlook. The country's bureaucracy is relatively efficient, and corruption levels are low by regional standards. Aruba still plays a significant role as an offshore centre for drug-related money laundering, although the authorities have taken concrete steps to fight organised crime, including legislation for the Prevention and Combating of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (LWTF), which foresees strict rules relating to customer due diligence, client identification and verification and the reporting of unusual transactions.

Last update: April 25, 2019

Terrorism

There is no specific terrorist threat in Aruba, and no threat from domestic or home-grown groups. There is a very low risk of international terrorism targeting Western interests such as bars, nightclubs, shops, restaurants, or other places where expats and tourists may gather, but there are no indications that Aruba has ever constituted a target or base of operations for terrorist groups. The Aruban Port Authority has taken measures to boost port security, working in partnership with maritime security and counter-terrorism consultancy SeaSecure to assess the risk of terrorism in the island's strategic ports.

Last update: December 28, 2018

War Risks

Overall, there are no significant external threats to the island. Relations have deteriorated in the past between the Netherlands, Aruba, and the then-Netherlands Antilles on the one hand, and Venezuela under late president Hugo Chávez – who suggested in 2010 that Aruba and Curaçao could be used by the United States as a springboard for an invasion of his country. Relations since 2010 improved based on trade until Venezuela closed the countries' mutual aerial and maritime border in 2018 and 2019 arguing security reasons.

Last update: April 25, 2019

Social Stability

The territory has many tourists in comparison with other Caribbean nations, with most of its local labour force engaged in the tourist industry. There is a low risk of large-scale or violent protests. Unions are not militant and incidents of industrial action tend to be quickly resolved and do not pose property damage risks. Some unrest is likely around elections.

Last update: April 25, 2019