The government has encouraged foreign investment by establishing industrial estates, including both factories and homes for laborers, as well as by offering favorable tax conditions for the investors. A large multinational company handles the marketing of most banana production, and a US firm has established a children's garment factory. The government has allowed the sale of some small islands in the Grenadines, notably Mustique, owned by a Scotsman, and Prune, bought by a US family and now called Palm Island by its entrepreneur owner. Petit St. Vincent and much of Canouan are being developed by the government for tourism.
St. Vincent is still eager to receive foreign investment, while providing special incentives and credit tailored to the needs of the investors. St. Vincent is eligible for trade benefits under Caribcan (Canada), the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), and the Lomé Convention (Europe—although these have been challenged by the WTO).
The government is targeting offshore services as a means of diversification away from bananas and tourism. The Offshore Finance Authority was set up in December 1996 to regulate bank and company registration, and the island is to be marketed in Puerto Rico, London, Hong Kong, New York, and Miami.
Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow peaked at $92.5 million and $89 million in 1997 and 1998, respectively, but has since declined. FDI inflow was $56 million in 1999; $28 billion in 2000; and $35.7 million in 2001.