GENEVA, Switzerland – Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, on Wednesday, was in Geneva, Switzerland delivering the feature address at the Investment Migration Council Forum (IMC) where he outlined that his government has embarked on a number of economic diversification programmes that will make the country's economy more resilient and further enhance growth prospects.
The IMC is the worldwide association for investor immigration and citizenship by investment bringing together the leading stakeholders in the field and giving the industry a voice. The IMC sets the standards on a global level and interacts with other professional associations, governments and international organisations concerning investment migration. The IMC helps to improve public understanding of the issues faced by clients and governments in this area and promotes education and high professional standards among its members.
'Our government has created the environment for technology, business and entrepreneurship to flourish in a well-regulated environment. This bold and strategically innovative approach resulted in our country's transition to the investor immigration (CIP) program. We have decriminalised the possession and use of cannabis and have also legalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There are significant investment opportunities available in this emerging cannabis industry under the CIP business option. We have drafted legislation and regulations to govern a few emerging industries and are only a few weeks away from completing the legislative framework, for blockchain technology, digital and cryptocurrencies, real estate investment trusts and non-embryonic stem cell therapy,' Browne said.
He outlined that the first stem cell treatment facility has been established and will open within the next 30 days on Friars Hill Road and the government would facilitate the establishment of a digital currency exchange, with all secondary trades purchased using fiat currencies later this year.
'We have recently inaugurated an innovation centre to facilitate the development of science and technology, especially information communication technologies. Several international businesses are operating in the park, bringing cutting edge technology to our shores and the manufacture of globally competitive export products, including drones,' Browne said.
In September of this year, the government will establish the fourth landed campus of the University of the West Indies, at Five Islands in Antigua, which it says is a critical component of the country's business ecosystem.
'This university is being established to facilitate the human resource development of our people, to include the citizens and residents of the other OECS countries, our resident CIP citizens and their children,' Browne stated.
Browne also outlined that during the last five years, Antigua and Barbuda's economy has been among the fastest growing in the Western Hemisphere, with an average annual growth rate of five percent per annum and a per capita income that ranks among the highest in the hemisphere.
'Notwithstanding the small size of our nation, we refuse to be products of circumstances but, instead continue to be products of bold, innovative and strategic decisions, in our pursuit of transforming Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean,' Browne concluded.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne (L) and Bruno L'Ecuyer
During that day's session, Browne also held meetings with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Investment Migration Council, Bruno L'Ecuyer and participated in a panel discussion on the importance of robust due diligence in the investment migration industry.
Ambassador Colin Murdoch, who is accompanying Browne on his visit to Geneva, also participated in two panel discussions on the current state of play in the Caribbean jurisdictions and shaping the future of residence and citizenship by investment.