The Antigua and Barbuda government says it regrets the decision of the Canadian government to end visa-free travel for nationals of the twin island nation.
In a statement, the Gaston Browne administration said that “this decision relates to concerns over persons who obtain passports under Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIP) in the Caribbean”.
Under the CIP, several Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis and St. Lucia provide citizenship to foreign investors who make a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the individual Caribbean countries.
The statement noted that the Trinidad-based Canadian High Commissioner had advised Prime Minister Browne of the new development late on Friday “prior to an official announcement on Monday.
“At the time, the Canadian official said that a concern is that Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is not a residency programme. In response, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne pointed to the intense vetting of its CIP system, the revenues to the people of Antigua and Barbuda when the terms of trade and aid have declined and the banking system is threatened.”
Antigua and Barbuda is the last of the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) from whom the Canadian government has withdrawn visa-free travel, at a time of heightened security over terrorism and refugees.
It said that of all the independent CARICOM countries, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Barbados were the only ones that had continued to enjoy visa-free travel to Canada.