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St Maarten: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in St Maarten

Formality in business is expected in most of The Netherlands Antilles and lightweight suits should be worn. Appointments should be made in advance and punctuality is taken very seriously. It is customary to shake hands.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1330-1630.

Economy

Tourism dominates the economy; 70% of all visitors to the Netherlands Antilles visit St Maarten, which results in around half a million tourists annually. Further investment in the tourism infrastructure is under way, including a new major port.

Government service provides one of the few alternative sources of employment, while subsistence farming and fishing meet a fair proportion of the islands' domestic needs. St Maarten is the only island in the Antilles group apart from Curaçao which has achieved some success in developing an 'offshore' financial services industry.

The Netherlands Antilles group enjoys Overseas Territory status at the EU and observer status at the Caribbean trading bloc CARICOM.

GDP

US$3.3 billion (2005).

Main exports

Petroleum products.

Main imports

Machinery and electrical equipment, crude oil (for refining and re-export), chemicals and food.

Main trading partners

Venezuela, Guatemala, Singapore and USA.

Keeping in Touch in St Maarten

Telephone

Calls made through the operator are more expensive and include a 15% tax.

Mobile Phone

Compatible with most US handsets but not with GSM handsets. Phone hire is available. Roaming agreements exist. Most US handsets can be used, and can be activated with a temporary number before or after arrival on the island.

Internet

Internet access is available.

Media

English-language dailies include the Daily Herald, published on St Maarten. Most other newspapers in the Netherlands Antilles are published in Dutch or Papiamento. The Leeward Broadcasting Corporation is based in St Maarten. The local station is Voice of St Maarten.

Post

Airmail to Western Europe takes four to six days, surface mail takes four to six weeks.