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, it has identified tourism and related services, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, information and communication technologies, business process outsourcing, financial services, health and wellness services, creative industries, education, yachting and marine services, real estate, and renewable energy 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 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.
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. Its website is: . It also offers an online guide that is useful for navigating the laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors. The guide is available at .
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 2020 Doing Business Report, Antigua and Barbuda ranks 130th out of 190 in the ease of starting a business. The establishment of a new business takes nine procedures and 19 days to complete. This time was reduced by three days because the government made improvements to the exchange of information between public entities involved in company incorporation. 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. The government continues to explore ways to further expedite the process.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to advance the work of the Antigua and Barbuda Business Innovation Center (ABBIC), a two-year project to assist small business and entrepreneurs. The ABBIC 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 grant. 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.
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. In order to sustain future economic growth, Antigua and Barbuda’s economy depends on significant FDI.
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.