The government's efforts to improve the investment climate have met with some success. Tax holiday periods of 10–15 years, depending on the amount of value-added tax, are specified under the Fiscal Incentives Act of 1975, renewable up to another 15 years. Tax rebates of 25–50% are offered to export-oriented industries. Import duty exemption for machinery, equipment, spare parts, and raw materials are also granted to approved companies. The offshore financial sector has grown aggressively, offering tax-haven facilities to international business companies, trusts, banks, and insurance companies. In addition, the country has no capital gains or personal income tax. In addition to local tax and duty concessions, manufacturers have access to the United States, European, Canadian, and Caribbean markets through the Lomé Convention, Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), CARICOM, and other agreements.
The controlling legislation is the International Business Corporations Act (IBC Act) of 1981. Amendments in 1984 and 1985 incorporated "know your customer" criteria and prohibited anonymous bank accounts. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1985, under which ship registration at the Antigua Port of St. John's could be carried out in Oldenburg, Germany, set the terms for this offshore service. In 1995, the county signed a maritime law enforcement counter-drug agreement and in 1996 updated extradition treaties with both the United States and the United Kingdom.
In April 1999, in response to OECD concern about Antigua and Barbuda's cooperation in preventing money laundering, the government took the unique step of banning the deposit of cash and all bearer-negotiable instruments in any amount. In 2000, the OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) declared Antigua and Barbuda cooperative on money laundering and in 2001 both the United States and the United Kingdom lifted money-laundering advisories about the country. In March 2000, Antigua and Barbuda became the first country to sign a commitment letter on the principles articulated by the UN Offshore Forum (UNOF) on banking practices, transparency rules, and international cooperation.
In 1997 and 1998, the reported inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) was $22.9 million and $27.4 million respectively. Increases in 1999 and 2000 to $36.5 million and $33.2 million reflected growth in the islands' technology sector when the Internet gaming company Starnet Communications International moved its headquarters to St. John's. Internet gaming is treated like a financial institution under the law. FDI continued to grow to almost $54 million in 2001