Grenada is open for business

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His Excellency Oleg Firer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Grenada to the Russian Federation

Exclusive to  Caribbean News Global

By Caribbean News Global fav

At the official opening of Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski, Dominica, His Excellency Oleg Firer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Grenada to the Russian Federation, welcomed the opportunity to have a conversation with Caribbean News Global.

Background

 H.E. Oleg Firer

We opened the first diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation on August 1, 2017, which was months after I presented my credentials to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. At that time, I became the first and only ambassador of the CARICOM states to the Russian Federation and the CIS. To date, no other country from CARICOM has a diplomatic mission in the Russian Federation or the CIS. I’m the only one. I represent Grenada to the Russian Federation and the CIS.

I’m not Russian even though my name sounds Russian. A lot of people say, ‘this is the Russian guy’. I am not a Russian guy. By diplomatic rules and a Vienna Convention, you cannot hold a citizenship of a country that you are accredited to and represent a foreign government. It doesn’t work that way. I was not born in Russia and “Oleg” is not a Russian name, but a Nordic name. I don’t have any ethnic roots or ties to Russia; therefore, people are confusing that and drawing conclusions. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I fell in love with Grenada and have been in Grenada for over a decade.

Caribbean News GlobalWhat brought you to Dominica? 

H.E. Oleg Firer

I am here to support Range Developments and as you know they are building the luxurious Six Senses La Sagesse in Grenada. It will feature two luxury 5-star hotels, oceanfront villas, spas, retail and watersports facilities.

The resort property will be built on a promontory in Saint David’s Parish, an unspoiled area of remarkable natural beauty boasting ‘one of the top ten beaches in the Caribbean’ as described by The Sunday Times; just 15 minutes’ drive from Grenada’s Maurice Bishop Airport.

It’s a phenomenal project that we support. And more broadly, we support every project that comes to Grenada. It’s the job of the diplomatic mission to support and promote entrepreneurs and investments into the country.

So, as such we’re very friendly with Range Developments and I wanted to see for myself what they built – Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski, Dominica – and to have an idea of what we can expect with Six Senses La Sagesse, Grenada. To complete the picture, I will be going to see Park Hyatt St Kitts and Nevis next week.

A lot of people talk the talk, but Range Developments and Mohammed Asaria actually – walk the walk. As you know there are a lot of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) projects in the Caribbean – nice renderings, that come and go, most of them never see the light of day; these guys delivered and Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski in Dominica, is a testament to that.

What Mohammed Asaria and Range Developments have done is exceptional. They delivered Park Hyatt Kitts and Nevis. They delivered Kempinski, Dominica. Looking around, I believe they’ve put something together that’s worth it. It’s a beautiful product as you can see, and I look forward to the delivery of two properties in Grenada, in 2022.

Caribbean News GlobalWhat is your expectation of Six Senses to Grenada; and how is it going to position the island?

H.E. Oleg Firer

Range Developments is going to create jobs and collectively with Six Senses, is expected to transform Grenada’s tourism product to make it a better destination.

At the ground-breaking ceremony August 23, 2019, Asaria said: “Range will create the unimaginable at La Sagesse. In a very short period of time, La Sagesse will become the second tourism capital in Grenada.”

Right now, there is a need for more hotel rooms in Grenada. People are coming and they want to stay in hotels and a lot of times the hotels are booked up.

Caribbean News GlobalHow is the government preparing for the projected economic boost?

H.E. Oleg Firer

The government of Grenada is providing incentives to developers to come and develop properties; that will require hiring local people, improve the unemployment statistic and improve economic growth. The government is also, stimulating the economy by inviting people like Asaria and Range Developments to the island to develop property and assist with our global footprint in tourism; and the CBI programme – promoting Grenada ‘Isles of Spice’ as a wonderful opportunity to invest, live and work in paradise.

As it pertains to the projected economic boost, there is still a need for a lot of work to be done on the island’s infrastructure. The roads, for example is a Caribbean-wide issue.

The road network is a recurring problem in the Caribbean with landslides, climate change, and frequent hurricanes. It’s very hard to make the roads that last, but still, the government of Grenada is stepping up and getting it done. The government works closely with the developers to enhance infrastructure, with brands like Six Senses and others to the island, infrastructure development is paramount.

Likewise, Grenada has the Maurice Bishop Airport, formerly known as Point Salines Airport. It is an international airport located in the parish of St George’s. The government is also improving and expanding the airport and that’s a major component to (CBI) programme (accessibility) and luxury resort development.

Grenada is one of the few with the USA’s E-2 visa, by virtue of investing in the US economy, and you know, working in the United States, it’s a unique program. A lot of countries and professionals and business executives require this. For instance, if you are a US citizen, you require a visa to mainland China. With a Grenadian passport, you don’t need a visa to China.

Grenadian citizens can travel without visa restrictions to more than 130 international and Commonwealth countries. These include the United Kingdom and all other members of the European Union, and important business hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Grenadian citizens enjoy unique access to the USA’s E-2 visa, privileges to Europe, Russia, and China, are some of the benefits you enjoy with a Grenada passport by investing in Range Development government-approved project, Six Senses La Sagesse, Grenada.

Caribbean News GlobalDo you envisage the island’s promoting an integrated CBI programme?

H.E. Oleg Firer

Thoughts of the islands coming together in an integrated CBI programme is a challenge – as the purpose of CBI is to boost local economy rather than an integration, also the method by which the various CBI programs function – therefore, I don’t see those programs being united anywhere anytime soon. 

Caribbean News GlobalWhat is your projection for Grenada? 

H.E. Oleg Firer

Tourism is one of the important sectors for the economy. To support tourism in addition to hotels/resorts, we need more support services and places to visit.

Grenada is open for business and we welcome entrepreneurs and businessmen to come to Grenada and establish businesses, from restaurants to hotels, clothing stores, coffee shops, boutique stores, agriculture, nightclub, and entertainment, etc. All of these and more have a place to co-exist, to call home.

While regional air transportation is a major concern; Grenada is easily accessible by direct flights from Germany, London, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Canada, etc., On a daily basis we welcomed visitors to a Pure Grenada experience, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique, to explore 40 white sandy beaches, 15 breath-taking waterfalls, four chocolate factories, three rum distilleries and more than 30 unforgettable dive sites, including the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean ‘Bianca C’ and the World’s First Underwater Sculpture Park.

Grenada is home to St George University a private international university established by an act of Grenada’s parliament on July 23, 1976, offering degrees in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, the health sciences, nursing, arts and sciences, and business. It is a true success story, with a dedicated team of professors that has trained 1 out of every 100 doctors working in the US today.

People ask me quite often: What kind of business can I open in Grenada and be successful. My answer is any type of business. Hence, the country is suitable for products and services. There’s a place for you – and the government is very supportive, providing incentives to foreign investors and local entrepreneurs to start business operations. And as you’ve witnessed with Range Developments, there’s more and more coming.

Caribbean News GlobalWhat is your expectation of the CBI programme?

H.E. Oleg Firer

CBI is an important program that stimulates local economies in development and emerging countries, however there’s a lot of talk about its longevity and abuse of the program.

Grenada is not one of those being abused. We have a strict program. We have a diligence process. Not everybody qualifies. It’s not for everybody. We want to have a premium product. And we want to keep it as a premium product, therefore being diligent is our priority.

Caribbean News GlobalDo you have that advantage and what are the major sell points?

H.E. Oleg Firer

Visa-free to China is important. Grenada is unique in that regard and there’s a lot of business to be made with China. We are constantly adding countries for visa-free travel, we have recently added Moldova and Uzbekistan, and we’re no done, we’re adding more. We hope our Grenadian passport will be more valuable as we add more countries.

Similar, Russia has just over 146 million people, and form part of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, signed on May 29, 2014, by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

The Eurasian Economic Union has an integrated single market of 180 million people and a gross domestic product of over $5 trillion, so, there’s a lot of business to be made.

Caribbean News GlobalWhat are the investment programs and agreements you’re currently working on to benefit Grenada?

H.E. Oleg Firer

We have opened Russia as a platform for entrepreneurs and investors to bi-lateral trade and programs. One of the things we’ve been successful in doing is implementing the trading of cocoa beans to Russia. There are manufacturers in Russia that make chocolates and various products out of the cocoa beans, imported from Grenada.

We are working on other products for export, including Westerhall Rum (premium rum from Grenada). As we speak, there are contracts under consideration… but cocoa beans, we have volume and a sustainable outlook.

We also opened Grenada as an investment platform for Russians to invest and participate in Grenada’s development. Several Russian families have moved to Grenada and are still living in Grenada. We have several Russians investing in real estate, building hotels, and contributing to the island’s development.

From an investment perspective, since we opened a diplomatic mission in 2017, bi-lateral undertakings have picked-up tremendously. And we’re just scratching the surface. My job is to highlight Pure Grenada, put it in the spotlight and explain the many attributes the country has to offer.

The Grenada CBI programme was launched in August 2013, to develop Grenada’s economy, become more prosperous and independent.

Grenada is simplifying its CBI processing procedures and consolidating its position as the most sought-after program in the Caribbean; a two-step system that will represent a ‘significant enhancement’ for the program, accompanied by Percival Clouden, the new chief executive officer (CEO).

Grenada is open for business. It is well position for foreign investment and entrepreneurs with a government that understands the country’s development needs. The government of Grenada is readily available to discuss options for growth and prosperity.

For more information please visit: Embassy of Grenada to the Russian Federation

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