How Is the Economy of Sint Maarten?

Saint Martin’s economy is divided between the northern side of the island that is owned by France and the southern side of the island which is owned by the Netherlands. Saint Martin’s tropical location within the Caribbean Sea attracts many tourists every year, this causes the economy of Saint Martin to be centered around tourism. Tourism accounts for 80% of the economy and this industry employs most of the natives on the island.

In Saint Martin, there is limited agriculture which means that most of the foods on the island are imported, other commonly imported goods onto Saint Martin include jewelry, diamonds, pearls, recreational boats, cars, and energy resources. The main exports from Saint Martin are gold, sea vessels, furniture, scrap aluminum, and liquor. The countries that Saint Martin partners with in trade the most are the United States, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Anguilla, Italy, and Switzerland.

Sint Maarten is reported to have one of the highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean with the current total GDP in Sint Maarten being $1.185 billion USD and an average GDP per capita around $29,160. The GDP by sector in Saint Martin is 0.4% agriculture, 18.3% industry, and 81.3% tourism. Below you see a chart of the GPD of Saint Martin per sector in 2021.

Chart of Saint Martin GDP per Sector in 2021

What is the currency in Saint Martin?

The Euro is the main form of currency in French Saint Martin while the Antillean Guilder or Florin is the official form of currency in Dutch Sint Maarten. The US Dollar is widely accepted on both sides of the island.

What are the main industries in Sint Maarten?

Tourism is the main industry in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, this opens up other industries within the tourism industry such as the industries listed below.

  1. Restaurants or food service
  2. Hotels
  3. Airlines
  4. Cruise ships
  5. Transportation
  6. Entertainment

How important is tourism to the economy of Saint Martin?

Tourism is an integral part of the economy of St. Maarten, hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses account for over 80% of the country’s gross domestic product or GDP. The tourism industry also provides work for around 80% of the inhabitants living on the island of St. Martin. This industry is essential to the infrastructure of the economy of St. Maarten.

What are Saint Martin’s exports?

The main exports from Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Gold
  2. Sea vessels
  3. Furniture
  4. Scrap aluminum
  5. Liquor

These items from Saint Martin are mostly exported to countries such as the United States, The Netherlands, Antigua, Barbuda, France, and the United Kingdom.

What are St. Maarten’s imports?

The main imports to Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Jewelry
  2. Diamonds
  3. Pearls
  4. Recreational boats
  5. Cars
  6. Food products
  7. Petroleum

These items are imported to Saint Martin mostly from countries such as the United States, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Switzerland.

What are Saint Martin’s revenues?

Since St. Maarten has a tourism-based economy, most of its revenue is brought in from the restaurants, hotels, and other tourism-related businesses on the island. St. Maarten has registered a revenue of over $434 million per year in recent years from the tourism industry. Over 73% of the foreign exchange earnings in Saint Martin is from the tourism industry. This is due to the island receiving an average of 1.8 million cruise ship passengers and 500,000 visitors by air per year.

What is St. Martin’s tax system?

The tax system in Saint Martin is a pay-as-you-earn system. This means that taxes, as well as social security premiums, are withheld from salaries. The law is that premium and wage taxes that are withheld must be paid within 15 days after the end of each month. In Sint Maarten, the types of taxable income are from the following sources: employment, businesses or profession, net income from capital, proceeds from immovable property, or certain periodic receipts.

In Sint Maarten, the tax system consists of taxes on individuals as well as corporations. Corporations can either be classified as resident or non-resident. The taxes on these corporations are the income tax, dividend tax, profits tax, and company turnover tax. The turnover tax rate is 5% and is levied on the delivery of goods and services that are rendered ‘within the territory’ by entrepreneurs that are either residents or non-residents, within the scope of their business. The corporate income tax is between 10% and 20% and is limited to profits made in Saint Martin.

There are no property taxes or personal capital gains taxes in St. Maarten. Capital gains and losses that come from the sale or exchange of private assets are exempt from taxation. If private assets are used as capital of a business, then the capital gains and losses form part of personal taxable income.

In St. Maarten, aside from a specific tax on petrol products, there is no tax on imported goods. Since there is no tax on imported goods this gives the island its famous duty-free status that brings many tourists who are looking to shop to Saint Martin year after year.

How did Hurricane Irma affect St. Martin’s economy?

The economy in Saint Maarten was severely affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Hurricane Irma was the most powerful hurricane that had ever been recorded in the area, this hurricane caused massive damage to both the economy and the infrastructure of the island and destroyed many buildings including hotels, other tourist accommodations, schools, homes, restaurants, hospitals, and the Princess Juliana airport terminal.

Hurricane Irma caused almost $3 billion USD in damages and left most of the island without running water, electricity, and telecommunications. Since over 80% of the island’s population worked in the tourism industry many locals were left unemployed after the hurricane. This put a drastic halt to the influx of tourism to St. Maarten and caused a 6.3% decline in the island’s gross domestic product or GDP.

Modest growth in the economy of St. Maarten is projected in the near future due to investments in reconstruction and recovery from the Sint Maarten Irma Trust Fund for Reconstruction, Recovery, and Resilience (SXM TF), financed by the Government of the Netherlands for up to €470 million Euros.

What is the history of Sint Maarten’s economy?

The economy of St. Maarten began in the early 1600s when the settlers from the Netherlands started the Dutch East India Company. This trading company mainly exported salt, which was abundant on the island at the time. In the late 17th century, many slaves were brought from West Africa to St. Maarten to cultivate goods such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco, these were the main sources of revenue for St. Maarten during that time.

The abolition of slavery during the late 1800s led to the downfall of the sugar industry on the island, as a result the economy severely declined in Saint Martin until the mid-1900s when the United States of America started trading with St. Maarten during World War II. The United States used the convenient location of Saint Martin as an airbase for its fight against Germany, the United States built many runways including what would be known as Princess Juliana Airport on the island because of the threat of German submarines in the Caribbean, this led to a very economically prosperous period for St. Maarten.

In the 1960s after World War II, the island took advantage of an American tourism market that was attracted to the Caribbean climate. St. Maarten, being only four hours away from the United States and having beautifully sunny and sandy beaches, experienced significant economic growth and the economy has been tourism-based to this day.

What are the job opportunities in St. Martin?

There are many job opportunities available in Saint Martin within the tourism industry. Most of the locals are employed in this industry and it affords them a middle-class standard of living in Saint Martin. The most popular jobs available on the island of Saint Martin are listed below.

  1. Tour guide
  2. Cashier
  3. Hotel Concierge
  4. Hotel Housekeeper
  5. Truck Driver
  6. Valet
  7. Administrative Assistant
  8. Security Guard
  9. Hotel Manager
  10.  IT Technician

What are the salaries like in Sint Maarten?

In Saint Martin, the average salary per year is around $46,000 USD (€39,000 Euros) per person.