Queen of the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda is both the gateway to the Caribbean and the region’s leading economy. With a bold vision and proactive governance that is working to successfully raise the profile of the whole region, it is jam-packed with opportunities for investors.
The country is marked by a number of attributes, such as its political stability, low crime, enshrinement of the rule of law, its well-educated and skilled workforce, strong ICT infrastructure and absence of foreign exchange controls or restrictions on capital repatriation.
Politically, the twin-island nation is an independent Commonwealth state with a system based on that of the United Kingdom’s. With a tropical climate and some 365 beaches it is perhaps small wonder that tourism is the primary driver of GDP, generating some 60% of the island’s income, and attracting tourists from both the traditional markets of North America and Europe, as well as increasingly from new markets with bumper spending power, such as China.
“On the financial services front especially, the jurisdiction has enormous strength in depth in terms of its provision, with the likes of Global Bank of Commerce having an extremely high international profile and excellent reputation built up over several decades”
The jurisdiction’s outstanding citizenship by investment programme (CIP), brings substantial resources into state coffers. In particular, the real estate element of the CIP affords developers access to funding, and amounts to something of a game-changer, since such capital has traditionally been hard to come by.
Meanwhile, interested parties are spoilt for choice when it comes to the prospect of unrivalled returns across a range of sectors, such as tourism, financial services, ICT, gambling and light manufacturing. In holding the Antigua and Barbuda passport, successful applicants enjoy visa-free travel to almost 150 countries, including the UK and countries of the Schengen area.
On the financial services front especially, the jurisdiction has enormous strength in depth in terms of its provision, with the likes of Global Bank of Commerce having an extremely high international profile and excellent reputation built up over several decades. Headed up by the grandfather of Caribbean Banking, Mr Brian Stuart-Young, it is world-renowned for its services to HNWIs around succession planning, wealth and portfolio management and priority banking.
Meanwhile, a regenerated and expanded port in St. John’s, Antigua’s capital has made the island the undisputed leader of logistics for the whole of the Eastern Caribbean, not to mention the area’s premium cruise port. It has also acted to catalyse regeneration all across the heritage waterfront, so further cementing the country’s status as the pre—eminent Caribbean force.
This port redevelopment will further strengthen Antigua’s claim to be the pan-regional commercial, and tourism hub, and ties in with the investment and growth strategy of the nation, enhancing existing strategic positioning, which will have significant positive knock-on effects in terms of attracting major developers and investors looking for the best opportunities and ROI in the region.
“Significant Chinese investment and involvement in the project has made it possible and is ensuring the rebuilt facility will be fit for purpose for the next half century.”
With Antigua already enjoying the status of the fastest growing economy in the OECS, and constituting one of the safest and most secure investment environments in the world, the ambition is to leverage the Port’s potential, so that it moves beyond simply handling cargo and acts to more directly contribute to social improvement and economic growth through the services it offers. Here, improved efficiency and engagement with the private sector will act to engender increased trust from the shipping lines and so increase economies of scale that will benefit importers in Antigua who can become more profitable, transfer cost savings to end users, and ultimately positively impact the economic and social prospects for the country.
Moreover, with plans for a duty-free logistics park to serve as the commercial maritime focal point for the whole region, there is a clear resounding message here that the new port will further strengthen Antigua’s credentials as a trade hub in creating a free market environment that can act as both an engine for change and driver of growth. Moreover, the enlarged facility offers huge scope for transshipment, storage and light manufacturing that will benefit not only Antigua and Barbuda, but also neighbouring islands. In addition, new innovations and technology have also been embraced in the upgrade to improve efficiency, safety and the user experience.
Significant Chinese investment and involvement in the project has made it possible and is ensuring the rebuilt facility will be fit for purpose for the next half century. In fact, the excellent relations between Antigua & Barbuda and China underpin much of the development in the Caribbean nation and should serve to reassure investors.
This transformational rebuilding and redevelopment of the Deep Water Harbour Port is all part of the country’s “Renewing the Inland from the Coastline” initiative, which has the facility as the catalyst for regeneration across the nation and will inform the future development of the whole country.
In parallel, VC Bird International Airport has been redeveloped, so that it now covers 23,000m², boasting four jet bridges, security screening facilities featuring the very latest technology, a whopping 46 check in counters, 15 self-check in kiosks, five baggage carousels, alongside an array of VIP lounges catering towards the top-end traveller.
All told, Antigua has successfully positioned itself to be one of the premium investment destinations in the whole world.