Above: Antigua PM Gaston Browne and Director of Yida International Investment Antigua Limited, Yida Zhang, sign the agreement on Friday (Photo: ABG)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Antigua and Barbuda’s government says it has signed a memorandum agreement with a Chinese company for a $740.7 million USD mixed-use tourism-focused investment project.
If realized, the project, led by investor Yida Zhang, would be the largest in the region since the similarly China-backed Baha Mar project, which is set to be completed in December of this year.
The deal with Yida International Investment Antigua was a major prong of new Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s campaign platform, and it was signed soon after Browne was sworn in on Friday.
The deal would develop Antigua’s Guiana Island and surrounding areas with 5 five-star hotels, 1,300 residential units, a casino and conference centre, a 27-hole golf course, a marina and a commercial/retail/sports facility.
The land would be purchased from the liquidators of the former assets of Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, who was convicted in 2012 and is currently serving a 110-year sentence.
The land reportedly includes Guiana Island, the Crump Peninsula and a pair of smaller islands.
“I promised the people that my administration would bring the type of investments to the country that will transform Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse and I am serious about that promise,” Browne said following the signing. “This Memorandum of Agreement is the result of our determination to work in the interest of the people of the country.”
The government said that Yida would be investing more than EC $200 million annually in Antigua and Barbuda over the next 10 years, along with providing “an Antigua and Barbuda presence in the People’s Republic of China to attract additional economically viable investments.”