Antigua’s new government vows to cut corporate taxes to boost economy

antigua-gaston-browneThe Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda elected a new government last week and the administration of new Prime Minister Gaston Browne (pictured) will hold its official inauguration ceremony later this week. will be sending a team to the inauguration to cover the festivities.

In remarks broadcast shortly after his landslide victory was confirmed, Browne cautioned his nation by noting that “the reality is that this country is in dire straits” and remedying the situation was a task that “would require the efforts of the entire nation.” The 47-year-old Browne, the youngest PM in Antigua’s history, is a former banker who campaigned on jumpstarting the nation’s economy. Browne vowed to ensure Antigua had “a rapid response culture” that would earn the country a reputation as “one of the best places to do business.”

As one of the original online gambling licensing jurisdictions, Antigua was long considered one of the best places to do business. That status was undermined after the United States barred Antiguan-licensed operators from serving US customers, a stance the World Trade Organization has deemed incompatible with global trade rules.

Antigua has been waiting eight long years for the US to either amend its trade policies or give Antigua the over $150m – and growing by $21m per year – in compensatory damages the WTO awarded Antigua in 2006. As a result of the US intransigence on this issue, the WTO has authorized Antigua to collect its damages by other means, including offering royalty-free downloads of US intellectual property, a tactic Antigua is reportedly close to implementing.

On Monday, Browne convened a meeting with the Ministry of Finance’s management team to gain a proper picture of the country’s fiscal performance. Browne said the focus would be on attracting new businesses by delivering lower corporate taxes and eliminating other taxes altogether. Hopefully, Browne will also reiterate the nation’s commitment to support and expand its online gambling industry, as well as having the confidence to take the necessary steps to compel the US government to either amend its policies or pay the necessary price for acting as a rogue nation on the global trade stage. IP sanctions are likely the only real road ahead to get the US to stop being seen as a trade criminal.