Antigua and Barbuda

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 29, 2017

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Executive SummaryShare    

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). According to Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) statistics updated in January 2017, Antigua and Barbuda has an estimated Gross Domestic Product of USD $1.18 billion, with forecast growth of 3.21 percent in 2017. During the last fiscal year, the economy of Antigua and Barbuda continued to enjoy the positive effects of falling oil prices, increased tourist arrivals and revenue from the Citizenship by Investment program. The current government remains committed to creating an enhanced business climate to attract more foreign investment to the country.

Antigua and Barbuda is currently ranked 113th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business report. The report highlighted positive changes in trading across borders and bankruptcy regulations but also noted some difficulties in starting a business and registering property.

The government strongly encourages foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in industries that create jobs and earn foreign currency. Through the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority, the government facilitates and supports FDI in the country and maintains an open dialogue with current and potential investors. While the government welcomes all FDI interests, agriculture, diversified tourism, healthcare services, outsourcing and business support services, information and communication technologies and international financial services were identified by the government as priority investment areas.

There are no limits on foreign control in Antigua and Barbuda. Foreign investors may hold up to 100 percent of an investment, and a local or foreign entrepreneur needs about 40 days from start to finish to transfer the title on a piece of property.

Antigua and Barbuda bases its legal system on the British common law system. There is current an unresolved dispute regarding expropriation of an American-owned property. For this reason, the U.S. government recommends continued caution when investing in real estate in Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda has signed bilateral investment treaties with Germany and the United Kingdom. The country has also signed free trade agreements with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, but the agreements did not enter into force. Antigua and Barbuda has double taxation agreements with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In February 2017, the government signed an Intergovernmental Agreement in observance of the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Antigua and Barbuda to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Table 1

Measure

Year

Index/Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions Index

2016

Not ranked

http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview

World Bank’s Doing Business Report

Busi Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”

2016

107 of 190

doingbusiness.org/rankings

Global Innovation Index

2016

Not ranked

https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

2015

USD $2M

http://www.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/

World Bank GNI per capita

2015

USD $13, 270

http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign InvestmentShare    

Policies towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda strongly encourages FDI, particularly in industries that create jobs, enhance economic activity, earn foreign currency, and have a positive impact on its citizens.

Through the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority, the government facilitates and supports FDI in the country and maintains an open dialogue with current and potential investors. While the government welcomes all FDI interests; agriculture, diversified tourism, healthcare services, outsourcing and business support services, information and communication technologies and international financial services are identified as priority investment areas.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no limits on foreign control in Antigua and Barbuda. Foreign investors may hold up to 100 percent of an investment, and a local or foreign entrepreneur needs about 40 days from start to finish to transfer the title on a piece of property. In June 1995, the government introduced a permanent residency program to encourage high net worth individuals to establish residency in Antigua and Barbuda for up to three years. As residents, their income is tax free.

The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority evaluates all FDI proposals and provides intelligence, business facilitation and investment promotion to establish and expand profitable business enterprises in Antigua and Barbuda. The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority also advises the government on issues that are important to the private sector and potential investors to ensure that the business climate continues to improve, that investment opportunities grow, and to increase the international competitiveness of the local economy.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In 2014, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), of which Antigua and Barbuda is a member, conducted a trade policy review through the World Trade Organization (WTO). This report, which speaks to the general investment climate in Antigua and Barbuda, can be found at: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp399_e.htm.

Business Facilitation

Established in 2006, the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority facilitates foreign direct investment in the aforementioned priority sectors and advises the government on the formation and implementation of policies and programs to attract investment in Antigua and Barbuda. The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority provides crucial business support services and market intelligence to all investors. The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority offers an online tool that is useful for navigating the laws, rules, procedures and registration requirements for foreign investors. This can be found at http://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/antiguabarbuda and http://investantiguabarbuda.org/.

All potential investors applying for government incentives must submit their proposals for review by the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority to ensure the project is consistent with national interests and provides economic benefits to the country.

According to the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Report, Antigua and Barbuda is ranked 116th in ease of starting a business. Establishment of a new business takes nine procedures and 22 days to complete. The general practice is to retain a local attorney who prepares all the relevant incorporation documents. A business must register with the Intellectual Property and Commerce Office (IPCO), the Inland Revenue Department, the Medical Benefits Scheme, the Social Security Scheme and the Board of Education. Given the multiple agencies currently involved in the process, a Single Window facility to expedite the process is being planned.

Outward Investment

Although the Government of Antigua and Barbuda prioritizes investment retention as a key component of its overall economic strategy, there are no formal mechanisms in place to achieve this. Even so, the economy will continue to require significant foreign investment.

There is no restriction on domestic investors seeking to do business abroad. Local companies in Antigua and Barbuda are actively encouraged to take advantage of export opportunities specifically related to the country’s membership in the OECS Economic Union and the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy, which enhance the competitiveness of the local and regional private sectors across traditional and emerging high-potential markets.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation TreatiesShare    

Antigua and Barbuda has signed bilateral investment treaties with Germany and the United Kingdom. It does not have a bilateral investment treaty or bilateral taxation treaty with the United States. Antigua and Barbuda has bilateral taxation agreements with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Antigua and Barbuda is also party to the following economic communities and organizations:

Caribbean Community

The Treaty of Chaguaramas established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1973. Its purpose is to promote economic integration among its 15 Member States. Investors operating in Antigua and Barbuda are given preferential access to the entire CARICOM market. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas goes further, establishing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which permits the free movement of goods, capital, and labor within CARICOM States. CARICOM has bilateral agreements with Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In 2013, CARICOM entered into a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States.

Organization of Eastern Caribbean States

The Treaty of Basseterre established the OECS. It consists of seven full Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and three associate members: Anguilla, Martinique, and the British Virgin Islands. The OECS Treaty promotes harmonization among Member States in areas concerning foreign policy, defense and security, and economic affairs. The six independent countries of the OECS ratified the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, establishing the OECS Economic Union on January 21, 2011. The Economic Union established a single financial and economic space within which all factors of production, including goods, services and people, move without hindrance.

Economic Partnership Agreement

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was concluded between the Forum of Caribbean, African and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) and the European Community and its Member States in 2008. The EPA replaced the now expired transitional trade regime of the Cotonou Agreement. The overarching objectives of the EPA are to: alleviate poverty in CARIFORUM, promote regional integration and economic cooperation and foster the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy by improving trade capacity and creating an investment-conducive environment. The Agreement promotes trade-related developments in areas such as competition, intellectual property, public procurement, the environment and protection of personal data.

Caribbean Basin Initiative

The trade programs known collectively as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) are designed to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies.

Initially launched in 1983 through the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), and substantially expanded in 2000 through the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), the CBI was further expanded in the Trade Act of 2002. It promotes economic development through private sector initiative in Central America and the Caribbean islands by expanding foreign and domestic investment in non-traditional sectors, diversifying CBI country economies and expanding their exports. The CBI provides beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods. It permits duty free entry of products manufactured or assembled in Antigua and Barbuda into the United States.

3. Legal RegimeShare    

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Antigua and Barbuda uses transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition and establish clear rules for foreign and domestic investors in the areas of tax, labor, environment, health, and safety. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda publishes laws, regulations, administrative practices and procedures of general application and judicial decisions that affect or pertain to investments or investors in Antigua and Barbuda. Where the national government establishes policies that affect or pertain to investments or investors that are not expressed in laws and regulations or by other means, the national government will make them publicly available.

Rulemaking and regulatory authority lies with the Bicameral Parliament of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The Parliament has two chambers: the House of Representatives has 19 members, 17 members elected for a five year term in single-seat constituencies, one ex-officio member and one Speaker. The Senate has 17 appointed members.

All regulations that relate to foreign investment into Antigua and Barbuda are governed by the relevant National Laws of Antigua and Barbuda. These laws are developed within the respective Ministries and drafted by the Ministry of Legal Affairs. These laws are enforced by the requisite Ministry of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The attraction of Foreign Direct Investment is governed principally through laws overseeing the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority and the Citizenship by Investment Program. The National Laws of Antigua and Barbuda are available online at http://laws.gov.ag/new/index.php. This website contains the full text of laws already in force, as well as those currently being proposed in Parliament.

Although, some draft bills are not subject to public consultation, input from various stakeholder groups is enlisted in the formulation of law. The process is detailed at: http://www.laws.gov.ag/makinglaws.htm. Accounting, legal and regulatory procedures are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. The International Financial Accounting Standards, which stem from the General Accepted Accounting Principles, govern the accounting profession.

The Office of the Ombudsman is a Constitutional provision established to guard against excesses by government officers in the performance of their duties. The Office of the Ombudsman is independent and is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. The function of the Ombudsman is to investigate any complaint relating to any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted by any officer of the Government or statutory body in any case in which a member of the public claims to be aggrieved, or appears to the Ombudsman to be the victim of an injustice as a result of the exercise of the administrative function of that officer or body.

Separately, because diversification of the economy remains a priority for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Tourism and Business Special Incentives Act (2013) was extended for an additional two years to 2018. The extension was meant to facilitate the further development of other key sectors, such as the creative industries, yachting and marine services and information and computer technology-enabled services.

Regulations are developed nationally and regionally. At the national level, the requisite ministry reviews and documents the desired legal authority that would enable it to effectively perform at the desired levels to reach optimum development objectives. These reviews are then submitted to the Ministry of Legal Affairs for the preparation of the draft legislation. Subsequently, the Ministry of Legal Affairs reviews all agreements and legal commitments (national, regional and international) to be undertaken by Antigua and Barbuda before they are finalized. The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority has the main responsibility for investment supervision, whereas the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance monitors investments to collect information for national statistics and reporting purposes.

Antigua and Barbuda’s membership in regional organizations, particularly the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and its Economic membership in regional organizations, particularly the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and its Economic Union, commits the state to implement all appropriate measures to ensure the fulfillment of its various treaty obligations. For example, the new Banking Act, which establishes a single banking space and the harmonization of banking regulations in the Economic Union, is uniformly in force in the eight member territories of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, although there are some minor differences in implementation from country to country.

The enforcement mechanisms of these regulations include penalties and other sanctions. The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority can revoke an issued Investment Certificate if the holder fails to comply with certain stipulations detailed in the Act and its regulations. Stakeholder organizations are encouraged to support and contribute to the standards development process by participating in technical committees and remarking on drafts that are available for comment. These organizations support the standards development process by presenting their members’ interests, expert opinions and analysis to ensure standards are sound and effective.

International Regulatory Considerations

As a member of the OECS and the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union, Antigua and Barbuda subscribes to principles and policies outlined in the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. The relationship between national and regional systems is such that each participating member state is expected to coordinate and adopt, where possible, common national policies aimed at the progressive harmonization of relevant policies and systems across the region. Thus, Antigua and Barbuda is obligated to implement regionally developed regulations, such as legislation passed under Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Authority, unless specific concessions are sought.

The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards is a statutory body established under the Standards Act of 1987 to prepare and promulgate standards in relation to goods, services, processes and practices. As a signatory to the WTO Agreement on the Technical Barriers to Trade, Antigua and Barbuda, through the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards, is therefore obligated to harmonize all national standards to international norms to avoid creating technical barriers to trade.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Antigua and Barbuda bases its legal system on the British common law system. The Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, junior judges, and magistrates administer justice in the country. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Act establishes the Supreme Court of Judicature, which consists of the High Court and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. The High Court hears criminal and civil matters and makes determinations on the interpretation of the Constitution. Appeals are made in the first instance to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, an itinerant court that hears appeals from all Organization of Eastern Caribbean States members. Final appeal is to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. A referendum to decide whether or not the country should remain subject to the Privy Council or turn to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice as its final court of appeal is expected to take place sometime in 2017.

The Caribbean Court of Justice is the regional judicial tribunal, established in 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. The Caribbean Court of Justice has original jurisdiction to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Antigua and Barbuda is party to the WTO. The WTO Dispute Settlement Panel and Appellate Body resolve disputes over WTO agreements, while courts of appropriate jurisdiction in both countries resolve private disputes. Antigua and Barbuda brought a case against the United States before the WTO concerning the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services. The WTO ruled in favor of Antigua and Barbuda, but agreement on settlement terms remains outstanding.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority provides guidance on the relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors. These can be obtained at http://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/antiguabarbuda and http://investantiguabarbuda.org/.

Citizenship by Investment

Under the Citizenship by Investment Program, foreign individuals can obtain citizenship in accordance with the Citizenship by Investment Act of 2013, which grants citizenship (without voting rights), to qualified investors. Program applicants are required to undergo a due diligence process before citizenship can be granted. The minimum that would entitle an investor to qualify is a USD $200,000 contribution to the National Development Fund for a family application for up to four persons, a real estate purchase valued at USD $400,000 or above, or a business investment of USD $1.5 million individually or at least USD $400,000 for a joint project. All applicants must also pay relevant government and due diligence fees, as well as a full medical certificate, a police certificate, and evidence of the source of funds. Further information is available at: http://www.cip.gov.ag/.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Chapter 8 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas outlines the competition policy applicable to CARICOM States. Member States are required to establish and maintain a national competition authority for implementing the rules of competition. CARICOM established a Caribbean Competition Commission to apply rules of competition regarding anti-competitive cross-border business conduct. CARICOM competition policy addresses anti-competitive business conduct, such as agreements between enterprises, decisions by associations of enterprises, and concerted practices by enterprises that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Community, and actions by which an enterprise abuses its dominant position within the Community. No legislation is yet in operation to regulate competition in Antigua and Barbuda. The OECS agreed to establish a regional competition body to handle competition matters within its single market. The draft OECS bill is with the Ministry of Legal Affairs for review.

Expropriation and Compensation

According to the Investment Authority Act of 2006, investments in Antigua and Barbuda will not be nationalized, expropriated or subject to indirect measures having an equivalent effect, except where any such measures are adopted for the public good and in accordance with due process of law, on a non-discriminatory basis and accompanied by prompt, adequate and effective compensation. Compensation in such cases will amount to the fair market value of the expropriated investment immediately before the expropriation or the impending expropriation became public knowledge, whichever is earlier. It shall include interest from the date of dispossession of the expropriated property until the date of payment. Compensation is required to be paid without delay, in convertible currency, and be effectively realizable and freely transferable.

There is an unresolved dispute regarding the expropriation of an American-owned property. In November 2015, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) paid the property owners the amount of USD $16 million towards the USD $41.7 million owed. While the property was sold in 2015, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda still owes accumulated interest on the property. The owner intends to continue battling the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in court until all monies are paid. For this reason, the U.S. government recommends continued caution when investing in real estate in Antigua and Barbuda.

Dispute Settlement

Antigua and Barbuda is not a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States; however it is a member of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, also known as the New York Arbitration Convention. International or national arbitration may be used if specified in contracts between private parties. The Arbitration Act Cap. 33 (1975) is the main legislation which governs arbitration in Antigua and Barbuda. It adheres to the New York Arbitration Convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Investors are permitted to use national or international arbitration with regards to contracts entered into with the state. Antigua and Barbuda also has Bilateral Investment Treaties with the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom in which binding international arbitration of investment disputes is recognized. Antigua and Barbuda does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty or a Free Trade Agreement with an investment chapter with the United States. U.S. Embassy Bridgetown is not aware of any current investment disputes in Antigua and Barbuda.

According to the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Report, dispute resolution in Antigua and Barbuda generally takes an average of 476 days. The slow court system and bureaucracy are widely seen as main hindrances to timely resolutions to commercial disputes. Antigua and Barbuda is ranked 35 out of 190 countries in resolving contracts in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2017. Through the Arbitration Act Cap.33 (1975), the local courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards issued against the government.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

As mandated by the Arbitration Act Cap 33 (1975), alternative dispute mechanisms are available as a means for settling disputes between two private parties. Voluntary mediation or conciliation is also used in dispute resolution. The Arbitration Act mandates the legal recognition and enforcement of judgements of foreign courts by local courts. Thus, the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda recognizes and enforces foreign arbitral awards. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal provides meditation on commercial contracts.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Under the Bankruptcy Act (1975), Antigua and Barbuda has a bankruptcy framework that grants certain rights to debtor and creditor. The World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Report addresses the strength of the framework and its limitations in resolving insolvency in Antigua and Barbuda and ranked Antigua and Barbuda 124th of 190 countries in this area.

4. Industrial PoliciesShare    

Investment Incentives

Antigua and Barbuda offers many incentives to investors. These are legally codified in the Investment Authority Act of 2006. The list of incentives includes exemption from or reduction of payment of duty on the importation or purchase of raw materials, building materials, furniture, fixtures, fittings, appliances, machinery, and equipment for use in the construction and operation of the business. Duty on the importation or purchase of vehicles for use in the operation of the business is also exempted or reduced. The Property Tax Act (2000) allows a reduction of up to 10 percent for land and a building used in the operation of the business and provides certain tax holidays. The definition of local value added is the amount realized from the sales of the product over a continuous 12 months with the exception of a number of items that include, but are not limited to, wages and salaries paid to foreign nationals, profits and dividends distributed to foreign nationals, interest, management charges and other income payments to non-residents. Corporation taxes are levied at the rate of 25 percent.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade and Processing Zone was established in 1994, which is based on the legal foundation enacted twelve years earlier that set guidelines for the establishment of International Business Corporations in Antigua and Barbuda. The Free Zone is administered by a Commission, empowered by the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act No. 12 of 1994, to function as a private enterprise.

The Free Trade and Processing Zone is part of an initiative undertaken by the government to diversify the economy of the State. The organization is mandated to attract investment in the areas deemed to be of priority by the government for the country’s economic development.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The government does not mandate local employment. However, the provisions of the Labor Code outline requirements for acquiring a work permit and prohibit anyone who is not a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda (or the OECS) to engage in employment unless they obtained a work permit. There is a practice, when work permits are granted to senior management because no qualified nationals are available for the post, to recommend from among citizens of the country, a counterparty trainee. There are no excessively onerous visa, residency or work permit requirements.

As a member of the WTO, Antigua and Barbuda is party to the Agreement to the Trade Related Investment Measures. While there are no formal performance requirements, government encourages investments that will create jobs and increase exports and foreign exchange earnings. There are no requirements for participation either by nationals or by the Government in foreign investment projects. There is no requirement that enterprises must purchase a fixed percentage of goods or technology from local sources, but the government encourages local sourcing. Foreign investors receive national treatment. There are no requirements for foreign information technology providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance (backdoors into hardware and software turn over keys for encryption, etc.).

5. Protection of Property RightsShare    

Real Property

The government owns 55 percent of the country’s land, with the remaining 45 percent privately owned. While private land ownership is prohibited on the island of Barbuda, foreign investors may be granted a Non-Citizens Landholding License which is subject to government approval. The Lands Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries is the custodian of Crown lands on behalf of the government.

Both citizens and non-citizens can lease or buy land on the island of Antigua from the government or the private sector. Land sold to non-citizens is subject to the Non-Citizen Land Holding Regulation Act that makes provisions for the buyer to obtain a license to purchase land. It is advised that the buyer consults with a local attorney. All land titles and purchases must be registered at the Land Registry.

The Town and Country Planning office of the Development Control Authority designates land usage areas, including for commercial, agricultural, industrial, or tourism use. The government’s Free Trade and Processing Zone manages lands and facilities which are geared towards attracting foreign direct investment in export sectors.

In the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business Report, Antigua and Barbuda is ranked 150th in the world for registering property. It takes about 108 days to complete the seven necessary procedures and the cost is about 10.8 percent of the property value. The report describes the procedure to accommodate the purchase and registration of property.

Intellectual Property Rights

Antigua and Barbuda has an extensive legislative framework supporting its commitment to the protection of intellectual property rights. While these legal structures governing intellectual property could be considered strong, enforcement generally could be strengthened. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property; the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT); the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks; and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (2001) establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy commits all 15 members to implement stronger Intellectual Property protection and enforcement. The EPA that was signed between the CARIFORUM States and the European Community in 2008 contains the most detailed obligations in respect of intellectual property in any trade agreement to which Antigua and Barbuda is a party. The EPA recognizes the protection and enforcement of intellectual property. Article 139 of the EPA requires parties to “ensure an adequate and effective implementation of the international treaties dealing with intellectual property to which they are parties, and of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).”

The Comptroller of Customs spearheads the enforcement and preventive aspects which includes the detention, seizure and forfeiture of goods.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

6. Financial SectorShare    

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

As a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, the country is also a member of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange and the Regional Government Securities Market. The Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange is a regional securities market established by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and licensed under the Securities Act of 2001, a uniform regional body of legislation governing securities market activities to facilitate the buying and selling of financial products for the eight member territories. The number of equities listed is 13 while the number of debt securities listed is 90. Market capitalization stood at USD $3.07 billion as of December 2016. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of this stock exchange, and is open to portfolio investment.

Antigua and Barbuda accepted the obligations of Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund Agreement, Sections 2, 3 and 4, and maintains an exchange system free of restrictions on making payments and transfers for current international transactions. Foreign tax credits normally are not granted unless in the case of taxes paid in a British Commonwealth country that grant similar relief for Antigua and Barbuda taxes, or where an applicable tax treaty provides a credit. The private sector has access to credit on the local market through loans, purchases of non-equity securities, and trade credits, as well as other accounts receivable that establish a claim for repayment.

Money and Banking System

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Agreement Act was passed into law by the eight Participating Governments. The Schedule to the Act contains an agreement made on July 5, 1983 by seven member governments and acceded to by the Government of Anguilla on April 1, 1987. This Agreement provides for the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, its management and administration, its currency, relations with financial institutions, relations with the participating governments, foreign exchange operations, external reserves and other related matters. Antigua and Barbuda is a signatory to this agreement and as such, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank controls Antigua and Barbuda’s currency and regulates its domestic banks.

In its latest annual report, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank listed the commercial banking sector as stable. Assets of commercial banks totaled USD $2.19 billion at the end of January 2017 and remained relatively consistent during the previous year. The reserve requirement for commercial banks was 6 percent of deposit liabilities.

International banks domiciled in the U.S., Canada and Europe are shedding their correspondent banking relationships in regions that they deem as high-risk for financial services. The Caribbean thus witnessed a withdrawal of these services by U.S. and European banks in the last three years. In 2015, the Caribbean Community declared the loss of correspondent banking to be a grave issue facing the region. The Caribbean Community is committed to engaging with key stakeholders on the issue and appointed a Committee of Ministers of Finance on Correspondent Banking to collate a collective response to this issue. Antigua and Barbuda is the current chair of this Committee.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. The currency of exchange is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). As a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Antigua and Barbuda has a foreign exchange system that is fully liberalized. The Eastern Caribbean Dollar was pegged to the United States dollar at a rate of XCD 2.70 to USD $1.00 since 1976. As a result, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar does not fluctuate, creating a stable currency environment for trade and investment in Antigua and Barbuda.

Remittance Policies

Currently, companies registered in Antigua and Barbuda have the right to repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends and profits free of all taxes or any other charges on foreign exchange transactions. Withholding taxes are also levied on non-resident corporations and individuals receiving income in the form of dividends, preferred share dividends, interest and rentals, management fees, and royalties, as well as on interest on bank deposits to non-resident corporations. One must be on the island for 180 days to be considered a resident. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

In February 2017, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda signed an Intergovernmental Agreement in observance of the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), making it mandatory for banks in Antigua and Barbuda to report the banking information of U.S. citizens.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, of which Antigua and Barbuda is a member, does not maintain a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

7. State-Owned EnterprisesShare    

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Antigua and Barbuda are governed by their respective legislation and do not generally pose a threat to investors, as they are not designed for competition. However many are established in the context of creating economic activity in areas where the private sector is perceived to have very little interest. A List of SOEs can be found at: http://ab.gov.ag/detail_page.php?page=1.

SOEs are headed by Boards of Directors to which Senior Management reports. In 2016, the Parliament passed the Statutory Corporations (General Provisions) Bill, which specifies the Ministerial responsibilities in the appointment and termination of board members, decisions of the Board and employment in these SOEs. Independent professional associations, non-governmental organizations and civil society may nominate directors for respective boards. This is an attempt to ensure diversity and independence on the corporate boards of SOEs.

Privatization Program

Antigua and Barbuda does not currently have a targeted privatization program.

8. Responsible Business ConductShare    

Responsible business conduct (RBC) among both producers and consumers is positively regarded in Antigua and Barbuda. The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social and cultural causes. Individuals benefit from business-sponsored initiatives when local and foreign owned enterprises pursue volunteer opportunities and make monetary or in-kind donations to local causes.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental and community projects. The government at times partners with NGOs in activities and encourages philanthropy.

9. CorruptionShare    

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implements these laws effectively when corruption is proven. Allegations of corruption against government officials in Antigua and Barbuda are fairly common; both political parties frequently accused the other of corruption, but investigations yielded few or no results. Antigua and Barbuda is party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. In 2006, it acceded to the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention.

The Integrity in Public Life Act requires all public officials to disclose all income, assets (including those of spouses and children), and personal gifts while in public office. An Integrity Commission, established by the act and appointed by the governor general, receives and investigates complaints regarding noncompliance with, or contravention of any provisions of, this law or of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As the only agency charged with combating corruption, the Commission was independent but understaffed and under resourced. Critics stated the legislation was inadequately enforced and the act should be strengthened.

The Freedom of Information Act gives citizens the statutory right to access official documents from public authorities and agencies, and it created a commissioner to oversee the process. In practice, citizens found it difficult to obtain documents, possibly due to government funding constraints rather than obstruction. A specified unit is mandated to monitor and verify disclosures. By law, the disclosures are not made available to the public. There are criminal and administrative sanctions for noncompliance.

In 2015, twelve Commonwealth Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, established a new regional body to enhance transparency and to help fight corruption. The formation of the Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean has been presented as a potentially important step forward in regional efforts to support integrity and address corruption. It is hoped that the new body will help to further strengthen public confidence in cross-border initiatives to enhance accountability, knowledge sharing and coordination.

Resources to Report Corruption

Radford Hill
Chairman, Integrity Commission
R.I.O.A. (Francis Trading) Building,
Ground Floor, High Street,
St. John’s, Antigua
(268) 462-5939
clients@lawhillandhill.com

The Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy is the independent law enforcement agency with specific authority to investigate reports of suspicious activity concerning specified offences and the proceeds of crime.

http://ondcp.gov.ag/laws/regulation/

http://ondcp.gov.ag/about/overview-of-ondcp/

Lt Col Edward H Croft
Director, Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy
Camp Blizzard, St Georges, Antigua
(268) 562-3255/6
ondcp@candw.ag

10. Political and Security EnvironmentShare    

Antigua and Barbuda does not have a recent history of politically motivated violence or civil disturbance. Elections are peaceful and regarded as being free and fair.

11. Labor Policies and PracticesShare    

Antigua and Barbuda has a labor force of about 35,000 persons with a literacy rate of approximately 90 percent. The law stipulates a minimum working age of 16 years, which corresponds with the provisions of the Education Act. In addition, persons under 18 years of age must have a medical clearance to work and may not work later than 10 p.m. The Ministry of Labor, which is required by law to conduct periodic inspections of workplaces, effectively enforces this law. The labor commissioner's office also has an inspectorate that investigates exploitive child labor matters.

Workers have the right to associate freely and to form labor unions. Approximately 60 percent of workers in the formal sector belong to a union. Unions are free to conduct activities without government interference. Labor unions form an important part of the base of both political parties. The law provides for the right of public and private sector workers to organize and bargain collectively without interference.

The labor code provides for the right to strike, but the Industrial Relations Court may limit this right in a given dispute. Workers who provide essential services (including bus, telephone, port, petroleum, health, and safety workers) must give 21 days' notice of intent to strike. Once either party to a dispute requests that the court mediate, strikes are prohibited under penalty of imprisonment. Because of the delays associated with this process, unions often resolve labor disputes before a strike is called. In addition, an injunction may be issued against a legal strike when the national interest is threatened or affected. Labor law prohibits retaliation against strikers, and the government effectively enforces those laws. The labor code provides that the minister of labor may issue orders, which have the force of law, to establish a minimum wage. Tripartite consultations were held when the minimum wage was set. The minimum wage is USD $3.03 an hour for all categories of labor. In practice, the great majority of workers earn substantially more than the minimum wage.

The customary standard workweek was 40 hours in five days. The law provides that workers are not required to work more than a 48-hour, six-day workweek, and provides for 12 paid annual holidays. The law requires that employees be paid one and a half times the employees’ basic wage per hour for overtime work in excess of the standard workweek. The Ministry of Labor put few limitations on overtime, allowing it in temporary or occasional cases, but did not allow employers to make regular overtime compulsory.

Investors in Antigua and Barbuda are required to maintain workers’ rights and safeguard the environment. While there are no specific health and safety regulations, the Labor Code provides general health and safety guidance to Labor Ministry inspectors. The Labor Commission settles disputes over labor abuses, health, and safety conditions. The law gives the Labor Ministry the authority to require special safety measures, not otherwise defined in the law, to be put into place for worker safety. Antigua and Barbuda is party to the International Labor Convention on Occupational Safety and Health No. 155 of 1981. Under the terms of the Convention, which Antigua and Barbuda adopted as law, when "a worker reports forthwith to his immediate supervisor any situation which he has reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to his life or health; until the employer has taken remedial action, if necessary, the employer cannot require workers to return to a work situation where there is continuing imminent and serious danger to life or health."

Standards were enforced in all sectors, including the informal sector, through the inspectorate unit via field officers. Government enforced labor laws, including levying remedies and penalties of up to XCD 5,000 (USD $1,850) for nonpayment of work. Overtime violations were penalized but were not always effective at deterring labor violations.

Workers have the right to report unsafe work environments without jeopardy to continued employment; inspectors then investigate such claims, and workers may leave such locations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance ProgramsShare    

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides financing and political risk insurance to viable private sector projects, helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, and fosters economic development in new and emerging markets. Antigua and Barbuda is a qualifying country for OPIC projects, however there are currently no active OPIC projects in the country.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment StatisticsShare    

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

 

Host Country
Statistical Source*

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data

Year

Amount

Year

Amount

 

Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)

2016

$1188

2015

$1259

http://data.worldbank.org/country/antigua-and-barbuda

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country
Statistical Source*

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or international Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

N/A

N/A

2015

$2

http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)

N/A

N/A

2014

$3

http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

* Source: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Statistics: http://www.eccb-centralbank.org/Statistics/index.asp#GDP (updated January 23 2017). ECCB GDP figures for 2016 are currently estimates.


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey data are not available for Antigua and Barbuda.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

IMF Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey data are not available for Antigua and Barbuda.

14. Contact for More InformationShare    

Commercial and Economic Affairs, Political/Economic Section
U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
246-227-4052
WatsonJM@state.gov