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Country Reports

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
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Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The Unity Labour Party (ULP), headed by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, holds 8 of the 15 elected seats in the House of Assembly. The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) appealed against the 2015 election results, but lost the case in March 2019. The next general election is constitutionally due by March 2021, with Gonsalves contesting for an unprecedented fifth consecutive term, although it is likely that the ULP will call an election before 2020 ends. The economic impact of the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus will test the ability of the current government to respond to the crisis and is likely to play a major role in the upcoming election. The country began a phased reopening of its borders in July, however, it will likely continue to feel the economic effects of the pandemic with its key economic driver, the tourism industry, still highly affected, with IHS Markit forecasting an economic contraction of 5.9% of GDP in 2020. In March 2020, Gonsalves announced a relief package worth USD26 million of income support to workers and businesses to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The negative economic impact of the outbreak, with possible severe restrictions to government revenue, will add political and economic pressures on the government and are likely to result in small demonstrations to demand government intervention to protect jobs and income in the 12-month outlook.
Last update: September 18, 2020

Operational Outlook

The government welcomes investment, and companies can easily set up operations. 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). Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves opposes granting citizenship for attracting inward investment. Before the onset of the COVID-19 virus, the country expected a boost in inbound tourism with the new terminal building at the Argyle International Airport and the February 2020 announcement of the construction of the first-ever five-star luxury resort on the mainland.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Terrorism

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.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Crime

In common with other Caribbean countries, St Vincent and the Grenadines' crime rates remain relatively high, mainly because of the growth of drug trades and the greater availability of firearms. There has however been a decrease in the number of reported murders, by 44% from 34 cases in 2018 to 19 in 2019. The majority of victims of homicides are locals. Although crime levels do not pose a serious risk to foreign investment, visitors face theft risks outside hotel areas at night.

Last update: June 17, 2020

War Risks

The likelihood of inter-state 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 the current administrations. Prime Minister Gonsalves has ideological sympathy for the governments of Cuba and Venezuela and has not recognised Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. The country works alongside US and European security forces, particularly in regional anti-drug trafficking efforts. In 2017, St Vincent and the Grenadines signed maritime boundary agreements with Barbados and St Lucia, reducing the risk of diplomatic disputes.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Social Stability

Protests and strikes in the country are generally peaceful and do not pose a threat to the stability of the government. Strikes generally affect the education sector, carried out by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU), or transport sector. The negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the tourism sector, will add political and economic pressures on the government and will likely result in small demonstrations to demand government intervention to protect jobs and income.

Last update: June 17, 2020