United States Virgin Islands Country Report
Following the November 2018 elections, Albert Bryan (Democrat) is the island’s ninth elected governor, defeating incumbent Kenneth Mapp. The US Virgin Islands (USVI) is a low-risk jurisdiction given the islands’ status as a United States territory. Laws and regulations are relatively straightforward. The ongoing public services and infrastructure recovery required from Hurricane Irma has derailed growth projections. The main operational concern for firms doing business on the island is the moderate corruption risk, including recent arrests for the mishandling of millions in public funds. The islands’ status as part of the US means that the threat of terrorism cannot be fully disregarded, though the threat remains moderate; more significant is the risk of violent crime including drug and human trafficking.
The islands’ transport and communications networks are generally sound, but hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 compromised infrastructure and led to prolonged power outages. Questions about the efficiency and integrity of the local authorities have been raised because of inconsistencies surrounding the islands’ finances, including reports of local funding shortfalls to pay post-hurricane reconstruction contractors. Arrests in 2017 over alleged misuse of millions of dollars in public funds indicates the ongoing moderate risk of corruption. In light of the recent fiscal challenges, there has been an uptick in strike action by teachers, although overall public strike risk remains only moderate.
Although the US Virgin Islands does not face a specific foreign or domestic terrorist threat, as a territory of the United States the territory’s location increases the likelihood of the islands being identified as a “soft” target for opportunism by international terrorist organisations. That said, there have not been any major attacks on the islands.
According to data from both the United Nations and Federal Bureau of Investigation, homicide rates are among the highest in the region. Despite such high levels of crime, the main tourist areas are generally safe, as violent crimes targeting tourists or other foreign visitors remain relatively rare.