Antigua and Barbuda could become a hub for diplomatic services upon the completion of the new Chinese embassy and residence complex.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne made that comment during his address at the ground-breaking ceremony on location at the soon-to-be Peoples Republic of China or PRC embassy complex near the intersection of Marble Hill Road and Trade Winds Drive.
Browne said he is thankful to the PRC for the great “confidence” it has shown in Antigua and Barbuda to establish such a facility here.
“I’m quite sure in the future that at some point there will be consolidation of embassies, but the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has that facility, it means that the Chinese embassy will be in a position to offer diplomatic services to other countries within the sub-region and beyond,” he said.
“I can imagine, for example, as we see an increase in trade and the movement of people between Antigua and Barbuda, the region and the PRC, that there may be a need to centralize the granting of visas. And this embassy here will be well positioned to provide those services, not only to Antiguans and Barbudans, but to individuals within the sub region and beyond.”
Browne is also of the view that the country stands to benefit socially, economically and even politically from the construction of the embassy.
“We are very happy to accommodate this project. One which will bring significant benefits to our country. During the construction phase, I’m quite sure that a number of Antiguans and Barbudans will get jobs here. There will also be opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide services in terms of maintenance of the facility and other services that may be required from time to time,” the country’s leader said.
The five acres of land on which the new embassy will be built was a gift to the PRC from the Gaston Browne-led administration, given its price tag of $1 which the Prime Minister described as “a token sum”.
The Chinese embassy and residence complex is estimated to cost US $23 million, with a completion time frame of 18 months.