Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, situated 625 miles (1,000 km) from Mainland Portugal and 545 miles (900 km) from North Africa. It consists of four islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens. Madeira and Porto Santo are the only inhabited islands, while the Desertas and Selvagens islands are uninhabited natural reserves that have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Madeira Island is the biggest and most important island of the archipelago with an area of 741 km2. Due to its subtropical climate and landscapes, it is known worldwide as an all year round tourist destination. Although it is an integral part of Portugal and subsequently of the European Union, where all laws applicable on the mainland also apply, Madeira is an autonomous region with its own government and parliament.
The population numbers approximately 245,000 inhabitants and its capital is the city of Funchal. Madeira’s International Airport serves several daily flights to Lisbon and other major cities. The official currency is the EURO and it is a civil law jurisdiction. A considerable part of the younger population is fluent in English.
Madeira’s economy is based on tourism, wine production and the International Business Centre of Madeira (IBCM). Created at the beginning of the eighties, the IBCM has proved to be a success and currently represents around 21% of the Regional Gross Domestic Product.
The highly advantageous tax regime, in addition to competitive operating costs, makes Madeira an attractive centre for international investment.
Madeira, for being an outermost region of the European Union and benefiting from the state aid regime foreseen in the EU treaties, was entitled to implement a development program to attract investment and economic activity. This program commonly known as the Madeira Free Trade Zone or International Business Centre of Madeira (IBCM), initially created in 1980, was duly approved by the European Commission and subsequently over time reapproved in five different occasions, last of which in 2007 (State Aid N 421/2006).
Interested investors may take advantage of the several benefits of the three main sectors of activity of the IBCM:
1. The Industrial Free Trade Zone
All industrial activities such as manufacturing, production, assembling and warehousing should take place in an industrial park located in Caniçal, which is located 8 Km away from the island’s international airport and next to the main commercial port. These activities enjoy attractive tax and customs duties regimes.
2. International Services
This is the main sector of the IBCM, allowing all type of international service activities such as international trading, management and consulting services, e-business, telecommunications, ownership of intellectual property, real estate investments or holding of participations.
3. International Shipping Registry of Madeira (MAR)
An International Shipping Registry – MAR – Portugal’s second register, was also created within the IBCM. MAR accepts the registration of all types of commercial vessels, including oil rig platforms, as well as commercial and pleasure yachts.