M. Gary Matser participates in IR Global Guide: International Expansion: Building your Business Overseas

M. Gary MatserPartner, Sentinel Accountants & Consultants

Foreword by Andrew Chilvers

Despite these uncertain times, expanding overseas can be a key driver for future growth for an ambitious business. International expansion can breathe new life into a company, drive huge value and set it on a path of continued success.

Expanding a business overseas is a strategic opportunity that will help diversify revenue streams, revitalise product development and give high returns on investment. But expanding a business into different jurisdictions takes time – this is a long distance run, not a sudden sprint to the finish line. Furthermore, expanding operations into a new jurisdiction can be fraught with challenges and risks that need to be addressed long before the first boots are on the ground.

For any company turning up in a foreign country, a multitude of tax and legal issues need to be addressed. This can be a labyrinthine experience and not for the faint hearted – but then faint hearted businesspeople seldom set their sights on overseas expansion.

Tax and compliance have to be at the top of any board’s agenda, ensuring the correct steps are taken the moment the company representatives land in-country. It’s pivotal to learn these issues to avoid any costly mistakes from the start.

What are the main government incentives available in your jurisdiction to attract multi- nationals and FDI investment?

• Flexible Business Incorporation and Directors’ Licensing

• Profit/Corporate Tax Exemption

• Hotel Renovation Tax Exemption

• Land Development Tax Exemption

• Tax Facilities for Industrial Enterprises.

St. Maarten public sector developments include:

• Airport Terminal Reconstruction

• New General Hospital

• Solid Waste Management and Environmental Improvement

• Public Housing Projects

• Infrastructure Improvements and Road Network Expansion

• Enterprise Support Project (MSMEs)

• Emergency Income and Support & Training.

What industries do you feel there are opportunities in for international investors/ businesses in your jurisdiction? What factors do you think contribute to inward investment?

Industries that offer great opportunity and return are:

• Real Estate

• Marine Sector

• E-commerce

• Luxury/High-end Tourism

• Corporate Residency.

What the country offers towards inward investments;

• Profit/Corporate Income Tax Holiday

• Foreign Labor Force Policy and Guidelines

• Multi-Lingual Work Force

• No Property, Capital Gain, or Sales Taxes

• Duty Free

• Attractive Foreign Currency Exchange

• International educational institutions

• Modern air and sea infrastructure (Hub)

• Ideal Regional Trade location.

Why is it important to hire a local firm to support international expansion? How can you help smooth the process for your clients and overcome common pitfalls?

A guaranteed benefit of hiring a local firm like Sentinel is its expertise in corporate governance, structure and its insight into processes specific to its territory.

The firm supports international expansion with 20 years of experience and an impressive portfolio of concluded projects. The management and its multinational staff (comprising individuals with over 60 years of combined experience on St. Maarten and in the region) engage jointly to assist clients in achieving business and investment objectives. Their proven formula is to always put the client first – the team listens and focuses on the client’s needs and each client is partnered with an associate, offering tailored solutions and services for ensured results.