Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Country Report
The stability of the administration of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) has been challenged by a high court ruling in June 2017 allowing the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to challenge the 2015 general election result in two constituencies The NDP has continued to pursue these results as of January 2018. A sharp rise in the murder rate in recent years has also called into question the ability of the government to maintain law and order, which could leave the ULP vulnerable in the event of a fresh election. The opposition NDP has announced that it will switch diplomatic recognition to China, from Taiwan, if elected.
The government welcomes investment, and companies can easily set up operations in the country. The investment promotion agency Invest SVG provides guidelines for investors. However, ongoing constraints include partially deficient infrastructure and the continued threat of natural hazards (mainly hurricanes). The recently opened Argyle International Airport will likely boost inbound tourism, especially given widespread hurricane damage to other Caribbean islands in September 2017. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves opposes granting citizenship for attracting inward investment, an initiative implemented by other Caribbean countries. Investors in the country face bribery solicitation and corruption risks.
There are no domestic terrorist groups with the intention or capability to undertake attacks against the population and/or commercial or government-owned property. The country is not considered a target for international terrorist organisations. St Vincent's offshore banking sector has come under pressure from international organisations to tighten money laundering controls and reduce the possibility of terrorist groups using the jurisdiction to conceal assets or direct funds abroad; in May 2017 the government published an Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code.
The likelihood of interstate conflict involving St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very low. St. Vincent disputes Venezuela's claim to Bird Island, but relations between both countries are friendly under their current respective administrations. Left-of-centre Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has ideological sympathy for the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, while also working alongside US and European security forces in the region, particularly in anti-drug trafficking efforts. In July 2017, St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed maritime boundary agreements (using the principle of equidistance) with Barbados and St. Lucia during a Caribbean Community meeting in Grenada, reducing the risk of future diplomatic disputes.
Deep divisions between the ruling and opposition parties remain likely to generate public-sector strikes and protests over governmental policies over the 12-month outlook. Given the June 2017 High Court decision enabling the opposition to challenge the December 2015 election result in two constituencies, there is a growing risk of political protests in the county. In January 2018 the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) filed a no-confidence motion against the government, accusing the administration of widespread political misconduct. Protests demanding the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) to call new elections are likely within the next year.