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Antigua and Barbuda

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

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.  Diversification of the economy remains a priority.

Through the ABIA, 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, it has identified agriculture, diversified tourism, healthcare services, outsourcing and business support services, information and communication technologies, and international financial services as priority investment areas.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There are no limits on foreign control of investment and ownership 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 established 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 free of local taxation. This program is separate from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program.

The ABIA evaluates all FDI proposals and provides intelligence, business facilitation, and investment promotion to establish and expand profitable business enterprises.  The ABIA also advises the government on issues that are important to the private sector and potential investors to increase the international competitiveness of the local economy.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda treats foreign and local investors equally with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The OECS, of which Antigua and Barbuda is a member, has not conducted a trade policy review in the last three years.

Business Facilitation

Established in 2006, the ABIA 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.  The ABIA provides business support services and market intelligence to all investors. It also offers an online tool that is useful for navigating the laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors.  The guide is available online 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 ABIA to ensure the project is consistent with national interests and provides economic benefits to the country.

In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, Antigua and Barbuda ranks 131st out of 190 in the ease of starting a business.  The 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, the government is exploring creating a Single Window facility to expedite the process.

In an effort to improve the standard of living for the population, the government of Antigua and Barbuda has put in place various initiatives to assist vulnerable citizens.  The Citizens’ Welfare Division within the Ministry of Social Transformation is responsible for the delivery of social services to vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, children, women, and people with disabilities.  The government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to advance the work of the Antigua and Barbuda Business Innovation Center, a two-year project to assist small business and entrepreneurs. The Antigua and Barbuda Innovation Center includes a business incubator and provides education, training, and investment opportunities to new and existing businesses.  The Innovation Center focuses on businesses in the healthcare, tourism, agriculture and environment sectors, as well as projects submitted by women.

Through the Prime Minister’s Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP), people with disabilities can apply for a special incentive award.  The EDP will also provide opportunities for female and young entrepreneurs in keeping with government’s mandate to support the growth of niche markets, innovation, the intellectual capital and ingenuity of its citizens, and the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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.  Some companies have noted that the economy of Antigua and Barbuda. 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 (CSME), which enhance the competitiveness of the local and regional private sectors across traditional and emerging high-potential markets.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

In 2018, the government of Antigua and Barbuda made a policy decision to stop granting waivers for property taxes.  Foreign investors can still access other concessions, including the manufacturers’ incentive that grants exemption from the payment of import duties, revenue recovery charge, and sales tax on raw materials, packaging materials, tools, equipment, and machinery.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has been proactively pursuing public-private partnerships (PPPs) through the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO).  NAMCO is a wholly owned government entity that holds the government’s stake in joint ventures and manages the investment proceeds that accrue.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The government established the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade and Processing Zone (Free Zone) in 1994.  A commission, acting as a private enterprise, administers the Free Zone.

The Free Zone is part of a government initiative to diversify the economy.  The commission is mandated to attract investment in priority areas.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The government does not mandate employment of its citizens by foreign investors.  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 work without a work permit.  In practice, work permits may be granted to senior managers if no qualified Antiguan nationals are available for the post. There are no excessively onerous visa or residency, 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, the 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 the same treatment as citizens. There are no requirements for foreign information technology providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance (for example, backdoors into hardware and software or keys for encryption).

Investment Climate Statements
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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future