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Antigua seeks India's assistance in developing health, other sectors

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — The Antiguan and Barbudan government Tuesday urged India to provide technical assistance to the Caribbean island particularly in the areas of health and the management of public finance.

Investment and Trade Minister, Asot Michael, made the request during a meeting with an Indian delegation headed by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, C R Chaudhary.

Michael recalled India's assistance in providing doctors to work here and that in 2001, St John's had further requested assistance from New Delhi to deal with the issue of tax avoidance.

Under that scheme, several tax specialists were assigned to the Customs Division and the Inland Revenue Department to help the government update the public accounts and to address issues related to tax collection.

Michael told the delegation that Antigua and Barbuda would seek Indian expertise to help fully establish a free trade zone, adding that on a visit to India a few years ago, he had realised that several major American companies had established a presence in that country.

“We have the free trade zone established by the Free Trade Zone Act where we are offering liberal concessions to companies to establish a presence there. We are hoping to be able to attract companies such as Amazon and IBM where they pay no corporate taxes and no duties on the importation of raw materials. We really would like to learn from the Indian experiences in this so that we may be able to develop this economic space,” Michael told the delegation.

The Trade and Investment Minister said he would be pleased to mount a trade mission to India to meet directly with business executives there and to find ways to attract them to Antigua and Barbuda. He also explored the possibility of securing scholarships for Antiguan and Barbudan students to pursue higher learning in India.

Chaudhary said his visit here is part of a series of visits through the sub-region as the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has embarked on an initiative to establish closer ties with the OECS countries.

He expressed a willingness to assist with the establishment of an educational institution in Antigua, possibly in the area of agriculture or medicine.

Chaudhary also talked about Indian expertise in the area of pharmaceuticals and he expressed a desire to share this with the region.

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