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Country Reports

Antigua and Barbuda Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) under Prime Minister Gaston Browne holds 15 of the 17 seats in the House of Representatives. Its large parliamentary majority will enable the government to implement legislation and attract investment, including from China, to develop the tourism sector, improve road and housing infrastructure and cut energy costs. The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) remains riven by in-fighting, with party leader Harold Lovell seeing off the most recent challenge to his leadership in February 2019. Such divisions increase the likelihood of the government serving a full term in office until the next elections scheduled in 2023. In September 2017 Hurricane Irma caused significant damage to Barbuda, but did not affect Antigua. The economy has since recovered thanks to growth in the tourism, wholesale, retail, transport, and manufacturing sectors. IHS Markit forecasts 3% GDP growth in 2019. Management of public finances has also improved, with the debt-to-GDP ratio declining from 109% in 2009 to about 74% by the end of 2018. Although there has been movement towards regional integration, developing more international trade connections remains a central economic challenge. The risk of large-scale violent protests is low, with no major civil unrest since the 1995 tax riots. Labour strikes and protests in response to energy or tourism projects are relatively uncommon, short, and non-violent, posing low property damage risks. Likely targets of any local opposition include the development of a new tax-free zone within Antigua's North East Marine Management Area, with construction being led by China's YIDA Group. Antigua and Barbuda’s homicide rate declined to 12 victims per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018, from 20 in 2017. The majority of homicide victims are locals involved in criminal activities such as drug trafficking. The primary security-related risk to visitors is theft, with those resisting, including foreign tourists arriving on cruise ships, facing death and injury risks.
Last update: July 11, 2019

Operational Outlook

Prime Minister Gaston Browne encourages foreign direct investment, especially in the tourism sector. In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed over 90% of Barbuda's infrastructure including roads, electricity infrastructure, and water systems. In early 2018, the government announced the reconstruction of major highways in Antigua and a USD90-million port modernisation project funded partly by Chinese firms, while continuing with the Paradise Found hotel project for Barbuda, which has been previously legally challenged by political opposition. Despite its pro-business stance, the government is immersed in disputes with telecom firm Digicel and Scotiabank.

Last update: July 10, 2019

Terrorism

Moderate

The risk of terrorist attacks is low. There are no known local terrorist groups, or international organisations with the intent of conducting armed attacks in Antigua and Barbuda. The government is working on a framework regarding anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing. In 2018, the government put forward a money-laundering prevention amendment bill to improve the monitoring of financial activities.

Last update: July 10, 2019

Crime

Most murders in Antigua and Barbuda are related to organised crime and drug trafficking gangs. In 2018, the total number of murders fell to 12, a 40% decrease compared with 20 incidents in 2017. The country is a transit point for illegal drugs coming from Latin America towards the United States and Europe. The primary risk to visitors is petty theft with those resisting criminals facing death and injury risks. Despite comprehensive legislation and financial regulations, the country remains susceptible to money laundering owing to its substantial offshore financial sector and internet gaming industry.

Last update: July 16, 2019

War Risks

There are low inter-state war risks as the country enjoys friendly relations with most nations. The Coast Guard is primarily used to stop and search ships in anti-drugs operations, but seldom uses force.

Last update: July 10, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

The risk of large-scale violent protests is low, with no significant unrest since tax riots in 1995. Although 75% of workers are unionised, strikes are relatively uncommon, short, and non-violent, posing low property damage risks. Strike risks are highest in the health, transport and utilities sectors. A 2,000 acre mixed-use industrial, manufacturing, residential and tourism special economic zone, being constructed by China’s YIDA Group within Antigua’s North East Marine Management Area, could prove the target of environmental protests. Such protests are unlikely to turn violent.

Last update: July 10, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Antigua and Barbuda. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Hurricane season extends from June to November, with peak activity in mid-September. Powerful storms can cause significant material damages as well as disruptions to transportation. If a storm is forecast, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities; storms are systematically tracked by the US-based National Hurricane Center, which publishes forecast storm trajectories and associated warnings on its website

The eastern Caribbean region, where Antigua and Barbuda is located, is in a seismic zone and earthquakes may occur.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Low

Roads are often narrow and winding and many are poorly maintained, making driving conditions relatively hazardous; be particularly vigilant on tertiary and rural roads. Visitors should note that cars travel on the left-hand side of the road and that visitors are required to obtain a temporary Antiguan driver's license before driving.

Taxis do not have meters; fares should be decided on prior to departure.

Public transportation is safe and inexpensive.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The climate is tropical with temperatures mitigated by trade winds that blow all year long (with the exception of September) across the island nation. Humidity is low and days are sunny throughout the year, with temperatures the highest between May and November.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: 1 268
Police: 911
Fire Dept.: 911
Ambulance: 911

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019