About Us India-Sint Maarten Relations

Sint Maarten, like Curacao, was a part of the Netherlands Antilles till 10 October 2010 when the latter was dissolved and Sint Maarten was given internal autonomy within the Kingdom of The Netherlands. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea at approximately 300 kilometers east of Puerto Rico and is a popular tourist destination for Europeans and Americans and an important port of call for luxury cruise lines. It has an area of 34 square kilometers and a population of 37,429 (2010). Apart from Dutch, English and Spanish are widely spoken.


2. As in Aruba and Curacao, the Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the Head of the State and is represented in Sint Maarten by a Governor appointed by her for a six-year term. The executive power is in the hands of Council of Ministers headed by an elected Prime Minister. The 21-member Parliament (Staten) is elected every four years on the basis of a multi-party system. Curacao’s judicial system, which has been derived mainly from the Dutch system, operates independently of the legislature and the executive. Jurisdiction, including appeal, lies with the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and the Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands. Mr. Eugene Holiday is the Governeor and Mr. Sarah Wescot-Williams is the Prime Minister since 10 October 2010.


Bilateral Relations

3. Relations with India have been cordial although political content has been virtually absent. There is sporadic trade, mainly through import by the Indian origin community on the island. This trade is also seldom destined for domestic consumption but rather for re-export within the region and so does not significantly enhance our export effort. It would be useful if our companies, particularly in the pharma and IT sector, visit for discussions with the islands for the possibility of joint ventures, particularly in the free trade zone of Curacao. The Prime Minister of Netherlands Antilles sent a letter of condolence to the Honorary Consul of India in Curacao following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and it was acknowledged by the Ambassador.


4. Mr. Damodar G. Rawtani, a leading businessman and respected member of Indian community, is India’s Honorary Consul in Sint Marrten.


5. The law and order situation in St. Maarten has been deteriorating in the last few years and 2009 has witnessed a number of attacks on foreign businessmen, including people of Indian origin. A Dutch national of Indian origin was murdered in May 2009 which led to a general strike by Indian merchants in the island.


6. Because of the large number of Indians living in Sint Maarten, passport, visa and consular issues dominate Embassy’s relations with the people of Sint. Maarten. The main issues of concern of the Indian community, many of them Dutch passport-holders, have largely been resolved. These include: Legalization of birth certificates etc. which is now done through simple procedures by the Dutch Embassy in Delhi; Long term visas for PIOs, which are issued liberally by the Embassy, and are now redundant since the introduction of the OCI scheme; The members of Indian and PIO communities in Sint Maarten contact the Embassy for various passport, visa and consular services which are provided expeditiously as per established procedures. Visit to Aruba by Embassy officials are also undertaken to maintain contact with the community. Earlier, businessmen from India frequently faced difficulties in obtaining a visa for the islands and after a wait of several weeks (ostensibly because of referral to the Island government), submission of exhaustive documentation, etc, and could get a single entry visa. The Embassy had, in consultation with our Embassy in The Hague, imposed similar requirements for documentation, etc, on citizens of Aruba and other Dutch territories as a test case following which the Dutch government waived the procedure for referral to the island government for issue of tourist and business visas to Indians.


7. Some issues still remain to be resolved such as that of visas for Indians who do not have sponsors in the island, work permits for businessmen and their employees, residence permits and their extension, visas restrictions for spouses of expatriates in order to encourage Indian investments and enhanced commercial interaction with the island. They act as deterrents to Indian tourists and businessmen who wish to visit the islands.


8 . Indian/PIO Community: There are about 3000 PIOs/NRIs in Sint Maarten, most of whom are in retail business. The Embassy, in collaboration with ICCR, tries to periodically send a cultural troupe to the islands. The last such ICCR-sponsored troupe came in May 2009 and performed to packed houses in Sint Maarten. The Prime Minister of erstwhile Netherlands Antilles and the Governor of Curacao had attended the performance.