While communication technology and collaboration software have significantly changed corporate decision-making, there remains one aspect of business that is impossible to replace: actual face time. As a result, mobility continues to be a critical growth driver for corporations and entrepreneurs seeking to increase their international market share — so much so, in fact, that global business travel spend is predicted to reach USD 1.6 trillion in 2020.
But, despite the world becoming ever more interdependent, there is still huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom enjoyed by citizens around the world. Needless to say, those who hail from countries with few visa-waiver agreements find time-consuming visa-application processes a serious hindrance to transnational mobility. A second passport, then, offers an effective means of increasing travel freedom and accessing opportunity in the world’s largest consumer markets.
In fact, for the thousands of wealthy individuals and their families who wish to operate globally, reduce their exposure to risk, diversify their investments, increase their international flexibility and open up new opportunities for growth, an alternative residence or citizenship is considered an essential resource.
Travel on Demand
St. Lucia’s citizenship-by-investment programme offers one of the most efficient and affordable routes to accessing the world’s foremost business destinations. The island nation grants its passport holders visa-free access to 127 countries, including the UK, the Schengen area, Hong Kong and Singapore. The investment costs are reasonable, processing is swift, and citizenship can be passed on to future generations by descent.
For those looking to Europe for passport diversification, Malta’s citizenship-by-investment programme –– the only one to be endorsed by the EU –– is the most popular. Ideally located between Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the country offers its citizens the freedom of unrestricted travel to no less than 167 countries. It also places one of the lowest tax burdens on residents, with the system combining corporate taxation with favourable tax credit incentives. In addition, Maltese citizenship confers the right to live, work and study in any of the 28 EU countries as well as Switzerland — effectively providing 29 European-based tax-residence options.
Broaden Your Horizons
Citizenship-by-investment programmes like those of St. Lucia and Malta provide a mutually beneficial solution that meets the needs of governments as well as a generation of ever-mobile global citizens. In 2014, global residence and citizenship planning firm, Henley & Partners, was mandated by the Government of Malta to design and implement the country’s citizenship-by-investment programme. This year, the firm opened an office in St. Lucia, its fourth in the Caribbean. As a result, Henley & Partners is uniquely positioned to provide in-depth advice and support on citizenship-by-investment in both countries, among numerous others.
As the world becomes ever more globalised and people live and conduct business on a progressively more international scale, the freedom to move within the global market provides a decided edge. So, while property, pension funds and private equities still have their place, increasingly, the most valuable asset in the portfolios of global investors is a second citizenship.