The Cook Islands is on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist of jurisdictions that do not meet international standards against money laundering. In March 2002 the jurisdiction made a commitment to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development agreeing to exchange information with overseas authorities in criminal tax matters by 31 December 2003 and in civil tax matters by 31 December 2005.
Foreign investment is regulated under the Development Investment Act 1995-96. Foreign entities must apply for registration with the Development Investment Board, which is responsible for the review and approval of all applications, for exemptions of customs import levy, and for work and resident permits. Companies may be granted full or partial exemption from import duty or levy on the importation of plant, equipment, machinery, or construction materials used or to be used in an approved activity. Generally, eligible companies must be incorporated under the International Companies Act 1981-82. Banks and insurance companies fall under the Offshore Banking Act and The Offshore Insurance Act.
The International Trust Act 1984 allows for asset protection trusts. Trustees are regulated by the Trustee Companies Act 1981. Resident trustees are required. Limited partnerships are governed by the International Partnerships Act 1984. An international partnership must have one resident partner, which can be either a resident licensed trustee company or an international company.
Residence and work permits may be granted for periods up to three years to key personnel or employees of an approved enterprise. The final decision is made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
* Application for Registration of Foreign Enterprise
* Application for Incentives & Concessions
* Application for Work & Residence Permits
The International Companies Act exempts non-resident companies from any tax. For resident companies, tax is charged at 20%. Turnover tax is 10%. Withholding tax of 15 per cent is imposed on payments of interest and dividends for overseas investors. Payments to local residents are taxed at 5%. Withholding tax may be rescinded for companies which are considered to be contributing to national development. Capital and profit repatriation are not subject to tax.
Commissioner of Offshore Financial Services
P.O.Box 594, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tel: +682.20 798
Fax: +682.21 798
Development Investment Board
Private Bag - Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tel: +682 24 296
Fax: +682 24 298
Latest available figures
The Cook Islands is a self governing country 'in free association with New Zealand'. New Zealand has most of the responsibility for foreign relations and defense.
16,500 (1999 est.)
English (official). Maori (indigenous).
Currency (March 2003)
The New Zealand dollar. US$1 = NZ$1.78 New Zealand dollar
The system is based on that of Britain and New Zealand. The jurisdiction has a High Court, which is responsible for civil, criminal and land title matters, and the Court of Appeal. The Privy Council in London is the final appellate court of appeal.
The British monarch is head of state represented by a representative, a position held by a Cook Islander. Parliament consists of 25 elected members and is presided over by a speaker. The prime minister and his cabinet of up to eight other ministers exercise executive authority. Members of parliament are elected for five years. The House of Arikis (chiefs) advises parliament on traditional matters, but has no legislative powers. The current government is a coalition of the Democratic Alliance and the New Alliance parties.
Her Majesty's Representative: Fred Goodwin
New Zealand High Commissioner: Rob Moore-Jones
Prime minister, finance, transport: Terepai Maoate
Deputy prime minister, foreign affairs and immigration, parliamentary services, House of Ariki, marine resources, agriculture, tourism, Development Investment Board, Ports Authority, Airport Authority and transport: Robert Woonton
Health, police, environment, attorney general, telecommunications, communications and information: Peri Vaevae-Pare
Outer islands, justice, ombudsman, energy: Tangata Vavia
Internal affairs, works: Ngamau Munokoa
Education, cultural development, public service commission: Jim Marurai
Cook Islands Party (leader Joe Williams); Democratic Alliance Party (Terepai Maoate); New Alliance Party (leader Norman George).
Last held June 1999 with the next to be held by 2004. The Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) won 11 seats, the Cook Islands Party (CIP) won 10 seats and the New Alliance Party (NAP) won four seats. A coalition government between the CIP and the NAP fell apart in November 1999 when the NAP joined the DAP to form the current government.
Agriculture (copra and citrus fruit), black pearls and tourism are the major local industries. Government has been promoting the financial sector to further economic development. The islands offshore industry is a small part of the economy but has bolstered government revenues with an increasing amount of Income from fees. The Cook Islands receives foreign aid, mainly from New Zealand and the Asian Development bank. Medium-term growth prospects have been clouded by the loss of some international air services in late 2001. Black pearl production fell from 2000’s record high, with exports in the first three quarters of 2001 down 17.6% on the corresponding period in 2000.
Gross domestic product (2001)
3% real growth
Inflation rate (2001)
The operating budget surplus in fiscal year 2001 was NZ$6.9 million, or 4.2% of GDP. Financial year: 1 July-30 June.
Public holidays (2004)
1 January (New Year's), 9 April (Good Friday); 12 April (Easter Monday); 25 April (Anzac Day), 7 June (Queen's birthday); 25 July (Gospel Day, Rarotonga only); 4 August (Constitution Day, celebrations begin on the last Friday in July and last up to two weeks); 26 October (Gospel Day); 27 December (Christmas Day observed); 28 December (Boxing Day observed).
GMT minus 10 hours. There is no summer time clock change.
Development Investment Board
Asian Development Bank