In recent years, the twin-island country of Antigua and Barbuda has fast asserted itself as a business and investment hub. Across the country, there’s now a tangible commitment by the Government and private investors to encourage and fund entrepreneurship.
This news comes as Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, spoke of plans to strengthen ties between the nation and the UAE, with Browne explaining: “We want to become the Dubai of the Caribbean.” The goal is simple: to spur innovation and the economic development on the islands.
Antigua and Barbuda welcomes international investors
Antigua and Barbuda, like many islands across the Caribbean, are hugely international and welcome foreign investors. Recently, actor Robert De Niro formed part of a travel delegation to Dubai as special economic envoy, part of a broader Government project to generate more international interest in the islands. Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the UAE, E. Casroy James, revealed that the Government of the Caribbean paradise was working on increasing visitor traffic from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
To encourage international investment in Antigua and Barbuda, an economic citizenship option was established. This has allowed the islands to prosper through increased economic diversification and entrepreneurial activity. Applicants for Antigua and Barbuda citizenship are invited to make a donation to the country’s National Development Fund (NDF), supporting local economic growth, or to purchase approved real estate for a minimum of US$400,000.
Antigua and Barbuda is not the first nation to develop a citizenship by investment programme. Citizenship by investment was first launched in the Caribbean twin-islands of St Kitts and Nevis as early as 1984. To date, it continues to support these islands’ flourishing economy – an outcome that has been mirrored in Antigua and Barbuda.
In 2015, Prime Minister Gaston Browne revealed: “By the end of this year, in Antigua and Barbuda, the CIP Programme will contribute in the region of 25% in total revenues, revenues that will go towards funding the various sectors of our country’s economies, revenues that will be used for health care, for education, for infrastructure development, to market tourism.”
Antigua and Barbuda is particularly amenable to business
International investors can rest assured that they have the Government’s support, incentives, and concessions to start and operate their businesses on Antiguan and Barbudan shores. Indicative of the nation’s commitment to business, applicants for Antigua and Barbuda citizenship also have the option of investing in a business that has been pre-approved by the Cabinet. Applicants can choose to invest as single investors, or together with other investors in projects that have been determined sound investments. Minimum investments for single investors begin at US$1,500,000.
A dedicated Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority has also been established by the Government, serving as an investment promotion agency for both local and foreign investors. The Investment Authority offers advice and resources to all peoples looking to establish and expand profitable business enterprises in the country.
Among the Investment Authority’s top reasons to invest in Antigua and Barbuda are the following: political stability, safety and security, a well-educated and skilled population, a robust ICT infrastructure and a business-friendly currency —the island’s currency, the Eastern Caribbean dollar, is pegged to the US dollar. Bitcoin is expected to soon gain traction in Antigua and Barbuda, as the Government prepares to grant the cryptocurrency legal status in the country.
Boasting a favourable foreign exchange environment, the country has no foreign exchange controls on capital repatriation. All this makes for particularly generous financial initiatives for international business people looking to establish companies on the islands. Moreover, Antigua and Barbuda is ranked highly for enforcing contracts and protecting investors.
There are plentiful opportunities in Antigua and Barbuda
Tourism currently dominates the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, accounting for almost 60% of its GDP. Antigua was one of the first Caribbean islands to actively encourage tourism, and hosted the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s 2016 conference, focusing on strategies to enhance the quality of the region’s tourism product and develop a strong culture of service excellence. Businesses that operate within this successful sector, therefore, are among the most profitable on the islands.
Elsewhere, Antigua and Barbuda’s Blue Economy is growing particularly quickly, with the Government having advocated a vision for development founded on principles of sustainability and inclusive growth. This includes a flagship priority of better utilising the marine space over which the country has jurisdiction, emphasising the connection between the ocean’s ecological systems and the human activity that generates economic value from the seas.
As shown by the considerable efforts being made by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the islands are certainly fertile ground for business investments. Thanks largely to the provisions made for international investors under the Citizenship by Investment Programme, including all the projects it supports, now is certainly a great time to be doing business in Antigua and Barbuda.