Andorra is an independent principality with a population of about 75,000 and area of 181 square miles situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Although not a member of the European Union, Andorra is part of the EU Customs Union and, due to a monetary agreement with the EU, uses the euro as its national currency. Andorra has become a popular tourist destination, accounting for about 80 percent of GDP, visited by over 8 million people each year who are drawn by its winter sports, summer climate, and duty-free shopping. Andorra has also become a wealthy international commercial center because of its integrated banking sector and low taxes. As part of its effort to modernize its economy, Andorra has opened to foreign investment, and engaged in other reforms, such as advancing tax initiatives aimed at supporting a broader infrastructure.
Andorra is actively seeking to attract foreign investment, and to become a center for entrepreneurs, talent, innovation, and knowledge. In doing so, Andorra has fostered a large project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on innovation and big data, employing Andorra’s unique economy as a test market.
The Andorran economy is undergoing a process of diversification centered largely on tourism, trade, property, and finance. To provide incentives for growth and diversification in the economy, the Government began sweeping economic reforms in 2006. The Parliament approved three main regulations to complement the first phase of economic openness: the law of Companies (October 2007), the Law of Business Accounting (December 2007), and the Law of Foreign Investment (April 2008 and June 2012). From 2011 to 2017, the Parliament approved direct taxes in the form of a corporate tax, tax on economic activities, tax on income of non-residents, tax on capital gains, savings taxation, and personal income tax. These regulations aim to establish a transparent, modern, and internationally comparable regulatory framework.
These reforms aim to attract investment and businesses that have the potential to boost Andorra’s economic development and diversification. Prior to 2008, Andorra limited foreign investment, worried that large foreign firms would have an oversized impact on its small economy. For example, previous regulations allowed non-citizens with less than 20 years residence in Andorra to own no more than 33 percent of a company. While foreigners may now own 100 percent of a trading enterprise or a holding company, the Government must approve the establishment of any private enterprise. The approval can take up to one month, which can be rejected if the proposal is found to threaten the environment, the public order, or the general interests of the principality.
Andorra has per capita income above the European average and above the level of its neighbors, Spain and France. The country has developed a sophisticated infrastructure including a one-of-a-kind micro-fiber-optic network for the entire country that provides universal access to all households and companies. Andorra’s retail tradition is well known around Europe, thanks to more than 2,800 shops, the quality of their products, and competitive prices. Products taken out of the Principality are tax-free up to certain limits; the purchaser has to declare those that exceed the allowance.
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