Incorporations could be on track to top last year if first-quarter trends continue, according to the latest quarterly report from the Financial Services Commission.

In 2021, new incorporations in the Virgin Islands saw their best year since 2018, recovering somewhat from a long-term downward trend for the territory’s core financial product.

Although the 8,075 incorporations in Q1 of 2022 didn’t reach the previous quarter’s total of 9,809, they still outpaced Q1 of 2021 by 4.4 percent. This makes Q1 2022 the best first quarter since Q1 2018, which saw 9,798 incorporations. Last year saw a total of 36,178 new incorporations, falling just 1,237 shy of 2018, in which 37,415 new companies were incorporated. In 2021, quarterly performance rose steadily all year.

The strong numbers over Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 came despite the October release of the Pandora Papers, millions of documents which linked VI structures to foreign leaders and other famous figures, painting many in a negative light.

The numbers for 2021 and early 2022 show a sharp contrast over 2020.

With just 22,362 new companies formed, 2020 hit at least a 21-year low for new incorporations, eclipsing the previous low of 26,150 in 2019.

Total companies

Also in Q1 2022, the number of total active companies climbed to 375,185, up from 368,893 at the end of 2021.

The numbers are up from at least a 14-year low in 2020: Having lost 14,085 active companies between Q3 and Q4 of that year, the territory finished out 2020 with just 366,364 total active companies.

In 2019, the numbers hit the previous 13-year low of 387,344 after peaking at 481,002 in 2011.

Other services

Meanwhile, limited partnerships, which began in the territory thanks to new legislation in 2017, dropped slightly from the previous quarter, with 112 partnerships formed, a 34 percent decrease from Q4.

Cumulatively, 2,134 LPs have formed in the territory since 2017.

Meanwhile, the total number of new applications to register a trademark in Q1 2022 climbed to 111, up from 70 in Q4, indicating what could be a departure from an overall downward trend in trademark applications, which have been falling for the past two years.

Since the enactment of the Trade Marks Act in 2015, a total of 1,843 new applications to register a trademark have been filed, the FSC reported.

Eight patents were re-registered in Q1, three less than the previous quarter but a significant jump from the one registered in Q1 2021.