New SEZ License Order details conditions of development and operations

The statutory instrument detailing the incentives, duration and concessions granted in the 2021 License Order to Western Imperial Special Economic Zone (WISEZ)
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By Makeida Antonio

Citizens have been examining a document which details the conditions of use of lands in Antigua and Barbuda under a new Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The order short-titled the WESTERN IMPERIAL SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE (Millennia-Montaigne Developments (Antigua) Limited) License Order, 2021 was made in exercise of the powers contained in Section 23, Sub-Section (6) and (7) of the Special Economic Zone Act, 2015.

In the document signed off by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, he granted license to use the lands specified in Schedule 1 for the development of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by MMDA.

“By virtue of the powers and authority vested in me under Section 23, Sub Section (6) and (7) of the Special Economic Zone Act, 2015, I hereby grant unto Millennia-Montaigne Developments (Antigua) Limited (MMDA) a license to establish a Special Economic Zone in the designated lands specified in Schedule I hereto.”

The lands designated to WISEZ include 245 acres in Jennings and 410 acres in Five Islands which make up a total of 549 acres in Antigua and Barbuda. According to the lands section of the license order, if any project approved by the WISEZ’s Zone Management Committee falls outside the allotted area, specific request for allotment/ approval of such land will be made to the Minister. The additional lands will then be considered a part of WISEZ for all purposes of management, ownership and the rights once approved by the Minister.

The license also details that WISEZ shall be free of all taxes levied in Antigua and Barbuda including corporate tax, personal income tax, import and export taxes for both personal and commercial activities, value added tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, sales and operation and development taxes and duties and taxes on inheritances and gifts.

The Zone Management Committee will grant permission to hire a foreign workforce. There are no visa restrictions which enables work permit applications of up to 5 years to be approved within 14 days for employees in the Zone. This will be facilitated by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda where the employment of foreigners or nonresidents including supervisory, technical and advisory positions, in any field of business within the Zone, and shall facilitate the fast- track processing of work permit applications of up to five years for employees within the zone within 14 days.

Any commercial and industrial entity is allowed to sell products, services and machines to the domestic market. Sales to the domestic market from the Zone will be considered as imports into Antigua and Barbuda. As a result, the Zone shall be equipped with its own import and export customs, according to the document.

A specialized customs management department shall be established by The Zone Management Committee to ensure that the customs gateway shall operate independently and that a protocol will be set up to simplify and fast-track import and export procedures. The Zone shall implement streamlined and efficient import and export custom procedures, including customs clearance that adhere to World Customs Organisation (WCO) principles and standards at its customs gateway, inclusive of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platform. All import and export customs procedures within the Zone shall be completed within three working days.

WISEZ is considered to be a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) project and is authorized to act as a marketing representative for the CIP product Any investments and acquisitions of lands, or shares or other real estates, regardless of form and category, in the Zone (i.e. for every USD$200k (0.2 million) invested) shall qualify as ClP product. The applications into the Zone for families of four will be processed (including processing fees and due diligence fees) at USD$45,000 for the entire family and transfer taxes and stamp duties shall be waived.

This Special Economic Zone will be facilitated by CEO of Western Imperial Capital Limited, Vijender Singh, and managed by Charit Mathur, Director of Western Capital Limited. Mathur told media that this development is a separate undertaking from the YIDA SEZ, as an MoU was signed by Yida Zhang and Virjender Singh to establish the development about six months ago.

Approved operations include an International Educational Hub, International Healthcare Zone, International Free Trade Zone for trading, manufacturing and wholesale, International Financial Services District, International Crypto Services Zone, International Entertainment and Tourism Hub and a residential area.

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