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Curaçao, an obvious choice

‘The economy is doing better than before, but there are a lot of fl uctuations. In a small economy it is diffi cult to determine a trend because a lot depends on outside factors’, Rinke Karman says. As of August 1, 2008, he is the new chief economist at the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Previously he worked as an economist for the Dutch government at the Ministry of VROM (Housing and
Environment), as a fi nancial controller for brewer Heineken and as a data analyst for newspaper and magazine publisher PCM. ‘Only recently, last May, I came to Curaçao after a short introduction period to meet my colleagues.

But my wife was born on Curaçao, so I was already familiar with the island. She always wanted to return to her birth place where also her parents live. Because they are getting older and don’t want to join their children anymore in the Netherlands, we decided to move over to here.’

Rinke Karman says he spends a lot of time getting up to date and networking.‘This is really important. I don’t work alone. I need my input.’ This input confi rms Karman’s view that Curaçao is easily infl uenced by international developments. ‘High prices for oil and food result worldwide in high infl ation’, Karman continues.‘These are developments which governments can counter by subsidizing prices, but it is the question for how long that is sustainable, because the debt increases. Moreover, there is a shortage of fuel which means the consumer has to adjust its behavior.

Subsidizing doesn’t help with that.’ Karman acknowledges that tourism and the construction sector are doing well. ‘Employment in tourism increases, which is a positive development. It means that this sector has a lot of confi dence. Despite changes regarding the future of Curaçao as an autonomous country, this still is a well-governed country, especially in comparison with other places in the Caribbean region. If an investor wants to develop a project in the region and he has to decide where to go, Curaçao is an obvious choice.’ The financial services sector, another solid performer, has the benefi t that it is not easily impacted by oil and food price developments. ‘This sector has different challenges, like fi nding qualified people.’ Last but not least, the harbor is also a key asset for Curaçao and its economy.

‘Without the harbor Curaçao would have developed in a completely different way. There would have never been a refi nery here. Many, many years ago, explorers might have sailed past the island.’