Antigua and Barbuda

Business Environment
Antigua is a member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The regional Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is responsible for regulating the availability of money and credit, maintaining monetary stability, maintaining a common pool of foreign exchange reserves and issuing a single common currency for eight of the nine OECS members.

Antigua's 1982 International Business Corporations Act provided the initial legislation for the establishment of offshore banks, trusts, insurance, manufacturing, and commercial companies. In 1994 the country established a free trade and processing zone to expand its industrial and economic base, and provide an offshore location for investment, manufacture, technology, and transit companies. The free trade and processing zone offers 100% foreign ownership, the repatriation of all capital, profits and dividends, no personal income tax or corporate tax, exemption from import duty on productive machinery, equipment and raw materials, and offshore banking and offshore insurance operations.

The passage of the International Business Corporations (General Control of International Bookmaking) Regulations in 1995 added sports book companies to the list of offshore products. The 1997 Virtual Casino Wagering and Sports book Wagering Regulations created the regulatory regime for Internet gaming companies. Antiguan regulation provides for two kinds of gambling and betting licences — interactive gaming and interactive wagering (sports betting).

The gambling and betting service providers in Antigua offer what is called 'account betting' where a player must fund an account with money before being able to enter into wagers. The amount of a wager cannot exceed the funds on deposit in the account and players are not offered credit on which to gamble. If a wager is lost, the amount of the bet is taken from the player’s account for the benefit of the operator. Under Antigua's laws winnings and the balance of deposits are transmitted back to the account from which the initial deposit came or by credit back to the same credit card.

Antigua's gaming sector has suffered from the US crackdown on online gaming. At its peak in 1999 e employment in the gaming industry in Antigua reached an estimated 3,000 persons and there were up to 119 licensed operators on the island. The government estimated the gaming industry accounted for about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product in 1999, generating wages and salaries of US$12.9 million. Licensing fees to the government in 1999 brought in US$7.4 million in revenues. By 2003 the number of licensed operators had declined to 28. The government estimates that current employment in the sector is under 500 and in the most recent fiscal period licensing fee revenue had declined to about US$1.8 million.

Following the issuance in 1999 of unfavourable financial advisories by the United States and the United Kingdom, Antigua revised its laws and regulations governing the offshore financial sector. Increased enforcement has resulted in the reduction in the number of offshore banks to 25, from 52 in 1998. Antigua has banned the acceptance of bearer negotiable instruments. The Money Laundering (Prevention) Act was amended in 1999, in 2000 and in May 2001. The International Business Corporations Act was amended to require service providers to keep client identification records and transactions for a minimum of five years. A Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty was executed. The Office of National Drug Control Policy was strengthened. A General Extradition Arrangements Order was enacted to more easily facilitate the extradition process of criminal suspects.

The International Financial Sector Regulatory Authority has full oversight of the offshore sector. After amendments were made to the relevant legislation the body was stripped of any promotional activities to concentrate solely on its regulatory functions. Service providers are required to report suspicious transactions to the authority under the money laundering legislation.

Antigua was rated in the lowest category in the G-7’s Financial Stability Forum rankings of offshore financial centers and was listed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as among 35 jurisdictions that were deemed to be tax havens. The jurisdiction signed a letter of commitment with the OECD stating that the jurisdiction would allow the exchange of information in criminal and civil matters. The Financial Action Task Force noted in June 2000 that Antigua had achieved ‘impressive results’ in improving the regulation of its offshore sector and did not blacklist the jurisdiction as among 15 that were deemed to be 'non-cooperative' in fighting money laundering.

Taxes
The bulk of government revenue comes from indirect taxation. There is no personal income tax. Tax incentives are available. Dividends from resident companies are not subject to withholding tax. Withholding taxes are levied on certain overseas payments, including management fees. Capital gains are not subject to taxation. Tax holidays are available for up to 15 years (with a five-year extension possible) for qualifying business. International business corporations may be exempt from local taxation for 50 years. Other possible concessions include the right to repatriate all capital, royalties, dividends, and profits free of all taxes or any other charges.

Contacts
High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda
15 Thayer Street
London W1U 3JT
Tel: 020 7486 7073/5
Fax: 020 7486 9970

The Free Trade & Processing Zone
P.O. Box 817, St. John's,
Antigua & Barbuda
Tel: (268) 460-5552
Fax: (268) 460-5553.
E-mail: ftpzone@candw.ag
Internet: www.antiguafreezone.com

The Directorate of Offshore Gaming
2nd Floor, Mutual Finance Center
9 Factory Rd, Room 216
PO Box 588, St. John's
Antigua & Barbuda
Tel: (268) 481-3300
Fax: (268) 481-3305
director@antiguagaming.com
http://antiguagaming.d2g.com

Country name
Antigua and Barbuda. The country became independent from the UK on 1 November 1981.

Population
75,401 (2001 census)

Capital
St. John’s

Currency
Eastern Caribbean Dollar linked to the US dollar at US$1 = EC$2.70.

Legal system
Based on English common law. Antigua is responsible for its own magistrate's courts. The regional Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is responsible for the high court and the court of appeals. The final court of appeal is to the Privy Council in London.

Government
Antigua is an independent country established as a constitutional monarchy. The British monarch is head of state, represented by a governor-general. The bicameral legislature is made up of the lower House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives has 19 members of which 17 are elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies. One is an ex-officio member and one is the speaker. The Senate has 17 members appointed by the governor-general in consultation with the parties. The executive consists of a cabinet headed by the prime minister.

Executive
Governor-general: Sir James Carlisle
Prime minister: Baldwin Spencer

Cabinet
To be announced

Political parties
Antigua Labour Party (leader: Lester Bird); United People’s Party (leader: Baldwin Spencer); Barbuda People’s Movement (leader: C. Hilbourne Frank); Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement (leader: Leonard Tim Hector).

Elections
Baldwin Spencer's United Progressive Party (UPP) won the general elections held on 23 March 2004, unseating Lester Bird's Antigua Labour Party from government. The UPP won 12 seats with 55% of the vote. The Antigua Labour Party won four seats with 42% of the vote. The elections in the island of Barbuda resulted in a tie and will be held again. Link: Antigua 2004 Election Results

Economic overview
Tourism employs about 35% of the labour force and contributes about 80% of GDP. In 2002, about half a million tourists arrived in Antigua, of which 300,000 came by cruise ship. Tourism brought in US$240 million in 2002. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and shares a common currency issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The ECCB manages monetary policy and regulates domestic banks in its member countries.

Gross domestic product (2002)
2.7% real growth

Exports of goods (2000 est.)
US$39.8 million: OECS (24%), US (10%), Trinidad and Tobago (7%), Barbados (21%).

Imports of goods (2000 est.)
US$375 million: US (27%), UK (10%), OECS (1%).

Balance of payments (2000 est.)
Current account: deficit US$89.4 million. Overall balance: deficit of US$21.4 million. Tourism contributed US$310.3 million in gross receipts to the balance of payments in the service sector

Inflation rate (2000 est.)
0.5%

Labour force
31,300. Unemployment: 11-13% (est. 2002)

Government accounts (2003-2004)
Recurrent revenues: EC$563 million (US$208 million). Recurrent expenditure: EC$627 million (US$232 million). Deficit: EC$64 million (US$23.7 million). Capital expenditure: EC$74.1 million (US$27.4 million). Government financial year: 1 April - 31 March.

Public holidays (2004)
1 January (New Year), 9 April (Good Friday), 12 April (Easter Monday), 3 May (Labour Day), 31 May (Whit Monday), 12 June (Queen's birthday), 1 July (Vere C. Bird Day/Caricom Day), 2-3 August (Carnival), 1 November (Independence Day), 25 December (Christmas), 26 December (Boxing Day).

Time zone
GMT minus 4

Sources
Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda High Commission (London)
International Monetary Fund
US State Department
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
Elections Around the World
CIA Fact Book
Holiday Festival