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Antigua and Barbuda Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

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 enables 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) is divided, 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. As part of the measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus, the government declared a state of emergency on 25 March. In June, the country began a phased approach opening its borders receiving its first international flight on 4 June. However, the country will continue to feel the economic effects of the pandemic with its key economic driver, the tourism industry, highly affected, with IHS Markit forecasting an economic contraction of 10.8% of GDP in 2020. In April 2020, Browne requested funding relief from the IMF and the World Bank, however as of early June 2020 no funding had been agreed. In May 2020, the government was able to secure a USD13-million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank for urgent financing needs.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. However, the likelihood of peaceful economically motivated demonstrations in the next 12 months will increase as unemployment is likely to rise as a result of the expected negative economic impact of COVID-19.

Operational Outlook

Prime Minister Browne encourages foreign direct investment, especially in the tourism sector. Despite its pro-business stance, the government has been involved in disputes over seeking to acquire assets from telecom firm Digicel and Scotiabank. In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed 90% of Barbuda's infrastructure; by September 2019, Browne announced that 50% of properties were restored on Barbuda. However, as of June 2020, electricity has not been fully restored through the island, with the government estimating that full recovery might take eight to 10 years. In January 2020, the country received USD15 million from the UAE to build a hybrid water plant which would replace the diesel generators ruined during Hurricane Irma.

Terrorism

Low

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.

Crime

Most murders in Antigua and Barbuda are related to organised crime and drug trafficking gangs. In 2019, the total number of murders fell to three, a 75% decrease compared with 12 incidents in 2018. This marks the lowest number of murders in the country for almost 20 years. According to police data, gun-related violence decreased in 2019 by 42% compared with 2018. 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. The main sources of illicit funds are fraud, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

War Risks

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

Social Stability

The risk of large-scale violent protests is low, with no significant unrest since tax riots in 1995. Although 75% of workers are unionised, labour strikes are relatively uncommon, short, and non-violent, posing low property damage risks. Strike risks are highest in the health, transport and utilities sectors. However, the likelihood of peaceful economically motivated demonstrations in the next 12 months will increase as unemployment is likely to rise as a result of the expected negative economic impact of COVID-19.

Health Risk

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).

Natural Risks

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.

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.

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:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal