The new government of Antigua and Barbuda has signed an agreement with Chinese investors to build a major resort and residential development project in the twin-island Caribbean nation.
Gaston Browne became prime minister on Friday after leading his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party to a dominating win in general elections. Over the weekend, he signed a memorandum of agreement with a Chinese company for a proposed US$740 million project on outlying Guiana Island and nearby parcels of land.
Plans call for the construction of five luxury hotels, 1,300 residential units, a casino, a golf course and marina, among other things.
The 184-hectare Guiana Island and the additional patchwork of land were previously owned by convicted Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, a Texas financier who based his fraudulent offshore banking empire in Antigua and funded the islands' government before his 2009 arrest by United States authorities. Developers will have to buy the roughly 600 hectares of land from Stanford liquidators.
The Labour Party announced on Sunday that Browne had signed the agreement with Yida Zhang, director of Yida International Investment Antigua, after eight hours of negotiations.
"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.
Attorney General and Labour Minister Steadroy Benjamin said the resort and residential development would provide jobs for the country. "This project will ensure that we move people from unemployed to being employed," Benjamin said.