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Caribbean and Central American Countries of the Future 2009/10
Published:  August 18, 2009

In the first year of a combined Caribbean and Central American Countries of the Future ­competition, Puerto Rico has ranked as the most attractive country for foreign investors. Jacqueline Hegarty reports on the leading ­performers in the region.


Alfredo Coutino
Director for Latin America, Moody’s

John Bowers
Owner, Bowers Consulting

Darryl White
Head of investment banking, RBTT Merchant Bank Limited


Puerto Rico has been awarded the Caribbean and Central American Country of the Future 2009/10 award by fDi Magazine. In the first year of the combined competition, Puerto Rico marginally grasped first place as the top three countries, including Costa Rica (ranked second) and the Dominican Republic (ranked third), were separated by a mere three points.

Puerto Rico achieved not only the top ranking overall, but also the top ranking in the category of business friendliness. The country has the largest number of companies involved in high-tech manufacturing, high-tech services, and knowledge-based sectors in comparison with the rest of the Caribbean and Central American region.

Costa Rica performed consistently well across most categories, ranking in the top five in the areas of economic potential, quality of life, business friendliness, human resources and FDI strategy.

Dominican Republic was perceived by the independent judging panel to have the best FDI strategy. The Dominican Republic Export and Investment Centre, with a staff of 40, lists the country’s free-trade zones as a key incentive to foreign investors. These free-trade zones allow 100% tax exemption in various areas including income tax, construction tax and value-added tax. Costa Rica and Panama were ranked second and third, respectively, in the category of best FDI strategy.

The Dominican Republic was also ranked top in terms of economic potential, primarily due to the large labor force and average annual gross domestic product growth of 7% between 2005 and 2008.

Bahamas and Jamaica ranked first and second, respectively, in the best infrastructure category, with Jamaica scoring the highest for the number of ports and Bahamas scoring the highest in terms of the number of airports compared with the rest of the region.

Haiti and Nicaragua claimed the top two positions for cost effectiveness, with both having relatively low office and industrial costs and low minimum wages.

In April 2008, the Financial Times Ltd acquired fDi Markets and fDi Benchmark. fDi Markets is an independent database which tracks global FDI on a real-time basis whereas fDi Benchmark is an independent database which benchmarks global locations on how appealing they are to foreign investors. This division compiled the majority of the data for the Countries of the Future competition, with the exception of the FDI promotion strategy which was submitted by individual countries and assessed by the judging panel. These changes have made the competition even more objective.

Countries of the Future shortlists are created by in independent collection of data by fDi Benchmark across 31 Caribbean and Central American countries. This information was set under six categories: economic potential, human resources, cost effectiveness, quality of life, infrastructure and business friendliness. A seventh category was added to the scoring – FDI promotion strategy. In this category, 14 Caribbean and Central American countries submitted details about their promotion strategy and this was judged and scored by our independent judging panel.

Countries scored up to a maximum of 10 points under each individual criteria which were weighted by importance to give the overall scores.

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