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Foreign Affairs Politics 

Prime Minister Gaston Browne Calls for an Alliance of CIU Jurisdictions to bargain Collectively

Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne was in the United Kingdom where he was specifically invited to be the Keynote Speaker at the prestigious Global Investment and Immigration Summit (GIIS) on Thursday June 21st.

The two-day Summit brought together High-net Worth Investors, expert immigration agents, global mobility managers, project developers, International Citizenship Experts from the USA, the Caribbean, UK, Ireland, the Mediterranean, among a host of other high-level diplomats and key stakeholders from around the world.

The Summit’s Director, Mr. Sam Hussain, in his invitation to the Prime Minister wrote: “We invite you to be our Keynote Speaker at the event, in your role as Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. This Summit is recognized as the worldwide gathering for investor migration and citizenship by investment experts; it brings together the leading stakeholders in the field, and gives the industry a voice while setting standards.”

The first day of the Summit saw a special focus on Antigua and Barbuda. Joining the Prime Minister at this prestigious event is the Chief Executive Officer of the CIU, Mrs. Charmaine Donovan, accompanied by Executive Assistant, Ms. Ashely David. The GIIS18 event is said to be one of the most highly regarded events for investors and agents wishing to learn about citizenship by investment programs worldwide and the unique opportunity to obtain investments for Antigua and Barbuda.

In delivering his Keynote address, Prime Minister Gaston Browne thanked the Summit Organizers for the honor of being asked to deliver to such a distinguished audience.

However, PM Browne wasted no time in addressing several important issues which affect CIU’s in developing countries. He also made recommendations that would improve the functioning of the CIUs.

The Prime Minister pointed to the CIP phenomenon globally, indicating that CIP’s have evolved into an industry of significant importance for Caribbean countries. The roots of its success lie in the global need which it fills, the Prime Minister said. The CIP has taken-off globally while it serves as a gateway for persons desiring legitimate global mobility. He asserted the importance which this phenomenon, though globally impactful, means to Antigua and Barbuda as a source of investment capital to the country.

In his address, Prime Minister said: “The growth of the global migration industry represents an immense opportunity for global interconnectedness and can serve as a bridge to the geographic, racial and ethnic divides that impede our collective advancement as peoples of the world and stymie our enhanced understanding of interdependence.

PM Browne used the opportunity, standing at a global podium, to speak on the position of his government and the CIP Unit. PM Browne said: “In Antigua and Barbuda, my government is committed to a corrupt-free environment; a stable political system which adheres to the preservation of democracy and human rights; and to the creation of a strong economy that fairly distributes income while facilitating entrepreneurship.

Education and healthcare are at the fulcrum of our developmental strategy. Mt. St John and the Cancer Centre are the most advanced tertiary healthcare facilities in the OECS sub-region, providing advanced medical procedures to include kidney transplants and acute cancer treatment respectively.

We have recently approved our first stem cell medical center, which will provide treatment for advanced ailments to patients globally.

Antigua & Barbuda is now on the cusp of establishing a university which will be the fourth landed campus of the University of the West Indies to service the OECS Caribbean and beyond. This is in addition to three medical schools that are currently operating on the island.” The Prime Minister declared to the high-status audience.

“Our country’s has attracted over two billion dollars in investment capital which will fuel robust growth and development. Our country’s strong and vibrant economy is the ideal economy for investment and entrepreneurship to flourish.

Consequently, we are developing laws and regulations to facilitate the operation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. In fact, our domestic laws are being amended to facilitate CIP settlements in Bitcoin Cash and other cryptocurrencies.

Our government intends to utilize block chain technology to increase efficiency in the public sector and to launch its own ICO to raise funds for various public sector investment projects.

This vibrant economic environment underpinned by peace and political stability is what we wish to continue to offer to new Citizens who invest in our country and in our people.

As responsible members of the international community of nations, we uphold the principles of good governance and those articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the attendant targets. 

Our citizenship by investment program is contributing immensely to our achievement of the SDG’s, therefore we are determined to continue to protect and promote it into perpetuity.

“That is the environment we wish to continue to offer to new Citizens who invest in our country and in our people.” The Prime Minister continued.

The Prime Minister, in driving home the impact that CIU has had locally said, “We are accountable to our citizens and to generations yet unborn for sustained economic and social advancement.  My government is determined to bring the greatest levels of creativity to the management of our CIP program in delivering good investor value to our citizens.

However, despite the legitimacy and coherence of developing countries’ CIUs, such as Antigua and Barbuda, PM Browne highlighted that there are inter-governmental organizations and others who are trying to thwart and stunt its growth.

The Prime Minister explained that such bodies are motivated by self-interest and fear of competition as many of these bodies and developed countries thrived on residency programmes leading to citizenship and still maintain their programs today.

In delivering his important statement, the Prime Minister hinted that these are the same bodies are trying to deny other countries the right to operate the same programs.

PM Browne illustrated how these bodies have used their clout in the International Trade and Finance systems to force developing countries to open their markets to unfair competition from them.

It is also these same governments that have imposed on other countries rules governing taxation and financial services that eliminate any competition with them.” PM Browne remarked.

The Prime Minister went to on to exemplify his remarks. He said: “As an example, Antigua and Barbuda has signed-up to the Common Reporting Standards (CRS), by which our administration reports to the jurisdiction, in which a foreigner is a tax resident, on bank account details, but the United States has not signed-up to the CRS, and does not make any such reports to anyone.”

Hon. Gaston Browne went on to illustrate in several different cases where developing countries are treated unfairly in the International market.

I mention all this to emphasize that because the plants of Citizenship and Residence by Investment Programmes are flowering, none of us should believe that they are safe from their adversaries and antagonists,” PM Browne reiterated.

“It would be best if all the jurisdictions combine their efforts and resources to meet these approaching challenges,” The Prime Minister suggested. “An alliance of jurisdictions determined to argue their case and the bargain jointly, have a better chance. Therefore, today, I call on all jurisdictions to form and sustain such an alliance in their collective interest.”

The first day of the Summit sought to focus on Antigua and Barbuda and the investment potentials. PM Browne took the time to encourage investor potential to his audience. He said: “There are many new initiatives added to our Citizenship by Investment programme to include; a two for one, related party transaction for the real estate and business options.

In addition, our National Development Fund option at US$140K including fees, for a family of four – is the absolute best value for money investment option available in the market.

We, therefore, invite you to consider Antigua & Barbuda as your first and best Citizen by investment option.”

At the end of his presentation, the Prime Minister received a resounding response to his presentation. According to the CEO of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, the Prime Minister’s presentation was very well received; presenters which followed him referenced excerpts in their presentation.

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