Government of Anguilla : Spotlight

Krisha CanlasLucy Pilgrim
Krisha Canlas - Project Manager Lucy Pilgrim - Deputy Head of Editorial
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Highlights
  • Anguilla is utilizing its strengths in the tourism sector to further bolster neighboring industries and place the island on the map for financial investors.
  • The Government of Anguilla’s current mission is to harness its technological advancements to empower the island’s industries and build the future of the business landscape around the local community.
  • The Government of Anguilla has also recently committed substantial resources to the expansion of the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport.
  • "I believe we are on the right path to prosperity, and I am excited for the future," says Dr. Ellis L. Webster, Premier of Anguilla and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Health.

Internationally recognized for its idyllic shores and flourishing tourism sector, we explore the expansion of Anguilla’s other key industries and how the island is emerging as a major player in the offshore financial services and investment space.

GOVERNMENT OF ANGUILLA SPOTLIGHT

Situated in the Caribbean Sea, Anguilla has been a cherished tourist destination and travel hotspot for decades, heralding sandy beaches and sparkling waters. However, the island has made considerable efforts to position itself on the global stage, particularly through its progressive and strong regulatory environment which encourages FinTech enterprises and enhances offshore financial services, boasting an attractive hub for foreign direct investment (FDI).  

Indeed, major corporate organizations and notable individuals are drawn by the privacy, financial incentives, and tax benefits afforded by Anguilla. More specifically, the economic make-up of the island allows industries to efficiently diversify their assets and capitalize on their investments.  

Meanwhile, Anguilla’s oceans are not only a charming tourist feature but also herald a flourishing fishing industry. Lobster fishing, in particular, plays a vital role as it is a local delicacy, often adorning the menus of the island’s top restaurants and a sought-after dish for tourists.  

As a cornerstone of Anguilla’s thriving tourism sector, the construction industry has helped cater to the rising demand of increased travelers, working hard to erect hotels, resorts, and other major attractions to meet the island’s growing infrastructure requirements as a luxury tourist destination.   

Relatedly, the island’s manufacturing sector is set for growth as it includes a wide range of sub-sectors including block making to support the construction industry. Additionally, Anguilla’s boat building sector is a small but noteworthy contributor to the national economy and holds a firm place in the island’s cultural traditions. Again, much of the boat building industry comprises small-scale businesses rather than sizeable complex operations, which helps sustain the generational methods used to create beautiful boats and keep the important heritage alive.  

Looking to the future, Anguilla is becoming a prominent player in the growing global FinTech industry, particularly given the rise in artificial intelligence (AI) and sharp increase in demand for web addresses as more businesses leverage the advantages of the internet. According to recent developments, many of the web addresses have utilized the local domain ‘.ai’ in line with recent technological advances, which further contributes to Anguilla’s GDP.  

As such, the island is utilizing its strengths in the tourism sector to further bolster neighboring industries and place Anguilla on the map for financial investors.

Q&A WITH DR. ELLIS L WEBSTER, PREMIER OF ANGUILLA AND MINISTER OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND HEALTH

We speak to Dr. Ellis L. Webster, Premier of Anguilla and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Health, about the Government of Anguilla’s efforts to progress the island’s industrial landscape and the ministry’s work in attracting FDI and maintaining steady financial growth 

The Government of Anguilla’s current mission is to harness its technological advancements to empower the island’s industries and build the future of the business landscape around the local community.  

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is primarily responsible for maintaining a balance between the nation’s stable economic growth via international investment, whilst also ensuring that public funding and domestic expansion are maintained in the interests of the island’s residents. 

Firstly, can you talk us through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development’s role in the Government of Anguilla and its overall mission?

Dr. Ellis L. Webster, Premier of Anguilla and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Health (ELW): My ministry handles a wide range of functions, including developing sound fiscal and economic policies, the stewardship of public finances, tax administration, positioning Anguilla as an international financial services center, attracting FDI, and overseeing the national social security system.   

Our mission is to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth and development while ensuring sound public finances. I delivered the 2024 budget address under the theme “Anguilla’s Blueprint: Harnessing Technology, Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders, and Building the Future”. This theme encapsulates our intention to leverage the power of technology as a key pillar of the island’s economic growth. Coupled with our resolve to build human capital, improve access to good healthcare, invest in modern public infrastructure, and our commitment to sustainability, Anguilla is well positioned for future prosperity.   

What is your current take on the investment and business climate in Anguilla today?

ELW: For innovative, progressive, and dynamic investors, the island presents diverse opportunities for investment. 

Anguilla’s luxury tourism brand is the cornerstone of its economy. Therefore, while we continue to encourage investment in luxury resorts and boutique hotels, diversification within the sector is welcome. We are also a prime location for investment in marina development, ecotourism in keeping with our sustainability efforts, and education. Regarding the latter, we are pleased that several medical schools and universities have chosen to make Anguilla their home.  

Additionally, as we place our people at the center of our development, we encourage external investors to partner with the local people to increase food production. One of our top priorities is improving food security and we therefore invite more investment in areas such as hydroponic and organic farming, expansion of the fishing sector into more pelagic fishing, and even aquaculture, which can reduce pressures on the nearshore fishery.  

We are also seeking investment in processing plants that can, for example, transform fresh fish into smoked or canned produce and convert the by-products of agricultural produce and fish into sellable goods, creating more employment opportunities for our people.  

We have also incentivized the manufacturing industry as we view this as another potential pillar of economic growth. This sector is currently characterized by small-scale, local operations but there is potential for significant expansion in a way that supports our sustainability goals.  

Substantial capital investment has been made in the development of the main cargo port at Road Bay, and our goal is to introduce another deep-water harbor soon. We believe Anguilla is well positioned geographically to serve as a logistics and supply chain hub. Additionally, there is the potential for ship repair and maintenance services to be offered with suitable investment.  

Our government is committed to a green economy and has placed a greater focus on renewable energy. However, the general populace remains concerned about energy costs and the slow transition to renewables. We want to see accelerated progress in this area that provides a viable alternative energy source for the average person. We are, however, mindful of our sole electricity utility company and encourage collaboration to achieve mutual success.  

With excellent internet connectivity, the rise in AI, and the attention being received for Anguilla’s ‘.ai’ domain, we are poised to become a center for technology and innovation, offering tremendous potential for developments in FinTech.   

Generally, our government has supportive policies aimed at bolstering numerous prospects for investors. However, they should be aware that the limited market size and economic vulnerability to external shocks all require careful planning and robust risk mitigation measures. With a strategic investment approach and the government’s collaboration, the investment environment in Anguilla can be both rewarding and sustainable.

How does the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development play a fundamental role in the promotion of trade in Anguilla?

ELW: The ministry is responsible for developing and implementing policies that create a conducive environment for trade and investment. This includes establishing a regulatory framework to attract reputable businesses, providing incentives, and ensuring a stable macroeconomic environment.  

The ministry also promotes Anguilla as an ideal destination for investment. We engage with potential investors, highlighting opportunities in sectors like tourism, FinTech, renewable energy, food production, manufacturing, and other emerging industries. We ensure investors are informed and offered personalized guidance and support.   

We try to streamline the investment process by offering favorable tax benefits and simplified business registration procedures. These measures are designed to reduce barriers to entry and enhance the ease of doing business on the island. 

Following this, could you provide an insight into Anguilla’s introduction of a special economic zone (SEZ)?

ELW: The SEZ was established a few years ago and currently operates virtually, transitioning to a physical zone in the next 12 months. It is designed to attract international businesses and investors by offering a favorable business environment with exceptional incentives.   

The SEZ aims to establish Anguilla as a premier hub for global commerce and innovation, and the types of businesses that can operate in the zone include:  

  • Global IT and software organizations.  
  • Activities auxiliary to financial services, except insurance and pension funding. 
  • R&D, including applied research and other professional, scientific, and technical activities. 
  • Production and manufacturing of products for SEZ-based businesses inside the zone or in other jurisdictions.   
  • Technical and vocational secondary education, including higher education. 
  • Call centers. 

What is special about the SEZ is that it offers increased incentives for businesses and fast-tracked processing for any required licences or permits.

Could you provide examples of some recent milestones and success stories from key industries in Anguilla?

ELW: The island has seen several recent milestones and success stories across key industries that highlight its growth and development. Notable examples include:  

Awards and recognitions: 

  • World Travel Awards: Anguilla was named the Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Destination at the World Travel Awards, reflecting its commitment to providing top-notch luxury experiences for visitors. 
  • Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards: Anguilla was awarded the Best Island in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Bahamas for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure. This recognition is testament to the warmth of Anguilla’s people and the extraordinary products we offer. 
  • Top beach destinations: Shoal Beach, Meads Beach, Rendezvous Bay, and Maundays Bay continue to receive accolades as some of the world’s best beaches, attracting tourists from around the globe. 

Tourism initiatives: 

  • Access: We have significantly improved airline travel to Anguilla, with daily direct flights now available from Miami and the prospect of additional flights in the very near future. Furthermore, since most of our visitor arrivals are currently via sea, we recently opened the new Blowing Point Ferry Terminal, a modern facility which reflects our image as a top-class tourism destination.  
  • Eco-friendly resorts: Several resorts on the island have implemented sustainable practices, including solar energy utilization and waste reduction programs. These initiatives have garnered international recognition, enhancing Anguilla’s reputation as a sustainable travel destination. 
  • Marina development: The government completed a marina development scoping study in 2018. We are pleased to have two developers commit to the introduction of marinas in Anguilla as a way of diversifying our tourism offering. 

Finance

International financial center: 

  • Regulatory enhancements: Anguilla has strengthened its regulatory framework to ensure compliance with international standards, making it an attractive destination for financial services. The introduction of new legislation has boosted investor confidence and attracted new businesses.
  • Digital asset business regulations: The government has introduced legislation for the regulation of persons conducting digital assets business, positioning Anguilla as a forward-thinking jurisdiction in the FinTech sector.

Technology

  • Domain registration: The island is the proud owner of an AI domain. With the recent growth in AI, there has been an exponential increase in domain registrations that have notably improved the government’s revenue collection and enabled us to invest more in public services such as education and healthcare.

Tech start-ups and innovation:

  • Incubation programs: With the recent establishment of tech incubation programs, such as the Anguilla tech start-up initiative, the country is poised to support the growth of local start-ups focusing on areas such as software development, FinTech, and e-commerce.
  • Digital connectivity: Investments in digital infrastructure have improved internet connectivity across the island, facilitating remote work and attracting digital nomads.

E-Government services:

  • Online services expansion: The government has expanded its internet presence, allowing residents to access a wide range of services online. This digital transformation has improved efficiency and accessibility for citizens and the business community.

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is involved in that you would like to highlight?

ELW: To enhance our infrastructure and economic landscape, two key areas of focus are the recent public investment in airport development and private investment in marina development. These are potential game-changers for Anguilla and pivotal for boosting tourist arrivals and overall economic growth.  

The Government of Anguilla has recently committed substantial resources to the expansion of the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport. This project aims to improve its capacity and facilities, making it better equipped to handle increased air traffic and larger aircraft. Enhanced airport infrastructure is expected to facilitate greater accessibility for international tourists and corporate travelers, thus driving growth in the tourism sector and creating new business opportunities.  

 Another major initiative is the recent commitment of FDI to marina development around the island. These projects are set to significantly upgrade the country’s maritime infrastructure, providing state-of-the-art facilities for yachts and luxury vessels. The development  of these marinas is not only expected to attract visitors looking for a different experience and boost the local hospitality industry, but also promote Anguilla as a premier destination for yachting and sailing enthusiasts.

How do you see Anguilla’s economy developing in the coming years?

ELW: I am pleased with our steady recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a record number of tourist arrivals, which bodes well for the future, as we expect Anguilla’s economy to remain largely tourism based. However, we do not believe it is prudent to be solely dependent on tourism, so we are committed to economic diversification and will take a strategic approach to achieve this.    

The state of the economy is interlinked with other factors and our efforts in those areas will also be critical for our financial trajectory. Our government is making strategic investments in safety, crime prevention, governance, land management, immigration, food security, renewable energy, and the digitization of public services. Additionally, our investment in education, and particularly technology integration, will prepare our people for the future and our focus on building resilient and efficient public infrastructure will serve as a cornerstone for growth. My ministry is also leading the charge in new consumer protection legislation, which will codify the rights and responsibilities of consumers and suppliers and provide the former with improved protection from exploitation.    

Economic growth is only meaningful if our people are the beneficiaries. We always strive to ensure they are empowered to take advantage of new opportunities, their needs are met, and interests safeguarded. 

Finally, what are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development’s key priorities going forward?

ELW: Prudent management of the public purse is always a priority for us; we have a clear path for our island’s economic future, focusing on sustainable growth. Our aim is to acquire and retain FDI through attractive investment policies, streamlined processes, and targeted incentive packages. We will, therefore, be making improvements to our current offerings that will enhance the investor experience.  

We also want to encourage a thriving local business community that supports innovation and diversification. The ministry is introducing new policies to promote business development and support the emerging manufacturing sector in particular. We will offer financial incentives and support other ministries and agencies to offer training, business incubators, and mentorship programs to help local entrepreneurs succeed.  

Moreover, we want to boost efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in both the public and private sectors. We’ll encourage digital technology adoption, support R&D, provide incentives for innovation, and offer budgetary support for the implementation of e-government initiatives to improve public services.  

I believe we are on the right path to prosperity, and I am excited for the future.

GOVERNMENT OF ANGUILLA PARTNER

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By Krisha Canlas Project Manager
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Krisha Canlas is a Project Manager for Outlook Publishing. Krisha is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Krisha is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Krisha to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.
By Lucy Pilgrim Deputy Head of Editorial
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Lucy Pilgrim is an in-house writer for North America Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.