Opinion

The Looming Caribbean CBI Price Increase: A Shift Toward Harmony and Transparency

Kevin Hosam
Antigua & Barbuda


In the realm of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs, a significant development has unfolded with the news of an imminent price increase in four out of the five CBI countries in the Caribbean. Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts & Nevis have committed to raising their economic contribution prices to a minimum of US$200,000, marking a substantial shift in the landscape of these programs.

Saint Lucia is the only country yet to commit to the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed on March 20th, 2024. The impending price hike is set to take effect by June 30th, 2024. This does not mean that Saint Lucia’s CIP will not eventually conform to the changing climate; however, for now, it will continue to operate under its current framework.

Finally, ending the price wars

As a licensed CBI Practitioner who has operated within this industry for nearly a decade, I believe the news of the price increase will trigger a mixed reaction among stakeholders. While you can anticipate a mad rush of applications from prospective investors aiming to secure CBI before the price surge takes effect, there is also hope for a newfound harmony within the CBI industry.

This development could signal an end to the detrimental “race to the bottom” phenomenon that has plagued the industry since 2017, which has created a “value” disparity amongst the programs. Moreover, it may lead to a resolution of the pressing issue of underselling that has adversely impacted certain Caribbean programs in recent years, with “cost” not being the deciding factor as to why investors choose particular programs.

In fact, this will now force each program to market itself based on its unique features (including lifestyle, global mobility, infrastructure, etc.). The commitment of these CBI countries to cooperate on various fronts signifies a step towards enhanced transparency and collaboration within the industry.

Among the key areas of cooperation agreed upon by the islands are the sharing of information on CIP applicants and the implementation of enhanced transparency measures. These measures include the disclosure of funds received through CIPs, the utilization of proceeds from CIPs, and the necessity to conduct independent financial and operational assessments.

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This move, however, remains insignificant as long as St Lucia does not join the framework. Should they remain absent and offer CBI at significantly lower costs, the four signatories of the MoA will be left with very few new applicants. Ceteris paribus, an estimated 95% of new applications would go to St Lucia.

The decision to raise the minimum investment threshold reflects a collective effort by these countries to elevate the standards of their CBI programs and ensure their long-term sustainability. By enhancing transparency and cooperation, the CBI countries are aiming to strengthen the integrity of their programs and foster trust among investors and stakeholders. Whether the EU’s Schengen block will recognise and appreciate these efforts remains to be seen.

This significant price increase may initially spark concerns among investors who are accustomed to lower thresholds. But then, do we need such “investors” in our Caribbean? The goal is to attract high-quality applicants who are genuinely interested in contributing to the economic development of these nations.

It also presents an opportunity for the CBI countries to reposition themselves as premium investment destinations. By establishing a more robust framework for due diligence, monitoring, and reporting, these nations can differentiate themselves in the competitive landscape of CBI programs, not just regionally but worldwide (think Egypt, Türkiye, and Vanuatu).

Adapting to the industry’s changing dynamics will be crucial for licensed agents operating in this evolving environment. Navigating the transition towards higher investment thresholds and enhanced transparency requirements will require that agents reassess their strategies and offerings.

The highest standards of professionalism will be essential in this new era of CBI programs. It is imperative for us as CBI Professionals to make this transition as seamless as possible by building trust with clients through transparent communication and upholding quality services.

The looming investment increase marks a substantial transformation of the industry’s terrain. It’s critical for all stakeholders to view this as a chance for advancement, not solely for the economies of each individual CBI nation but also for refining each program and the investor services they offer.

The “Carib4” countries are establishing the groundwork for a more enduring and esteemed CBI sector in the Caribbean for years to come.

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Kevin Hosam AuthorSubscriber
Founder and Chairman , EC Holdings

Kevin Hosam is the Founder and Chairman of EC-Holdings, a global residence and citizenship by investment advisory with offices in 10 countries. 

Kevin is based in Antigua & Barbuda, where he has been a locally accredited agent under the country’s citizenship by investment program for many years.

He has represented clients large and small, and a large number of citizenship by investment applicants. 

He specializes in the fields of real estate, investment management, and immigration consultancy.

 
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