Natural paradise, free mobility and investment opportunities
Proposed subtitle: Antigua and Barbuda, the fastest growing economy in the western hemisphere, has a prodigious investment regime.
Orchestrating the turn-around of an economy, at a time of uncertainty in key markets around the world, is no small feat; but when the economy is a small twin-island nation's bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the task is doubly challenging.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne's economic policies have managed to make Antigua and Barbuda become one of the fastest growing economies in the Caribbean, reaching a growth rate of 3.5% to 6% per annum over the last 3 years; this, despite the region was hit by two hurricanes in 2017.
"The Government has lowered significantly the debt-to-GDP ratio, considerably reducing the balance on an IMF loan that the previous administration incurred. In the Prime Minister's words, the prospects of a very bright future looms ahead. We are seeking to make Antigua and Barbuda an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean.
The underlying strength of the economy lies in its investment opportunities in real estate development, with a number of new projects coming on stream over the past three years. Augment that with a strong Citizenship by Investment Programme and a focus on rebuilding infrastructure to support the vision of the country's economy, and you have a very attractive investment portfolio to offer investors around the world.
The government has been focused on redeveloping the airport and, now underway, is the deep water port expansion. The newly opened VC Bird International Airport delivers first world standards and has been built with expansion plans in mind over the next ten years. Current passenger throughput is at 850,000 passengers per annum and has the capacity to more than double. Plans to open a 30,000 square-foot cargo storage facility are next on the project list. The seaport rebuilding project has started with plans to vastly increase the capacity of the port to deal with increased containerisation, and capitalize on Antigua's geo-strategic location, making it ideal for transhipment to the region.
From a business perspective, new technology is of paramount importance;, hence, the confirmation of a USD100 million project which will improve infrastructure to support better communications and diversify aggressively into blockchain and crypto currencies. The government is working on the legislative and administrative framework to support the country's growth and potential to become a blockchain hub for the Caribbean Region.
The long-established partnership between Antigua and China includes the EXIM bank's financing of the new airport terminal and the deep water port; and the amount of trade now taking place between both nations means Antigua is putting regulations into place to trade in Renminbi. This will make investment from China into Antigua much easier. To date, investments have been mainly focused on large infrastructure projects, but there are huge opportunities in the hospitality sector.
The Citizenship by Investment Programme is an attractive investment regime offering tax concessions for up to 20 years with no personal income-tax, and options to invest in real estate (minimum investment of US$400,000), the national development fund, or commercial opportunities. The focus is clearly on investment at low cost to the investor in order to ensure a good return. The programme's transparency, accountability and integrity are critical to its administration and success, and the due diligence procedures in place ensure the programme maintains its reputation as one of the best in the region.
The natural beauty of Antigua is more than skin deep. Famed for its 365-beaches, a rugged coastline with perfect trade winds which attract the worlds' best yacht racing fleets and on the itinerary for some of the worlds' largest superyachts throughout the winter season. Its real beauty is in its truly multi-cultural society which it opens its arms to all nations.