International Business Sector Vital to Barbados’ Economy
The contribution of this island’s international business sector to the social and economic development of Barbados is not to be underestimated. Minister of Industry and International Business, Donville Inniss, made this assertion recently while addressing a Corporate Trust and Service Providers seminar in the Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre. The Minister told his audience that quantitatively, the sector contributed over BDS $900 million annually to the economy, which, he noted, ranked second to the contributions made by the tourism industry. Mr. Inniss quipped: “… I often argue with my dear friend and colleague Richard Sealy that the country gets a better return on its investment in international business and financial services than we do in tourism. I suspect that for every dollar that the government spends in the sector, they probably get a lot more than $2 back. And certainly for every dollar we earn in foreign exchange I suspect perhaps that 75 cents stays in Barbados. “This is not to suggest that there is any war between tourism and international business – we need both of them. But, no one can discount the immense contribution that this sector makes to the economy of Barbados.” Mr. Inniss maintained that service providers were quite aware of the contribution of how the sector benefited the economy and pointed to fees charged by companies, and jobs created and sustained by the sector. However, the Minister said he wanted Barbadians to be aware that indirectly, a significant number of workers could trace their employment back to the contribution of the international business sector. He added: “Those who work in the banking industry, those working in the various law firms and those who are employed in ancillary services are really benefiting from this very important sector. “As for you our valuable partners in the corporate trust and service providers arena…if the international business sector is really to move up the ranks and stay there, we recognise that we needed to have a cadre of professionals and companies who are appropriately licensed and regulated to ensure that we maintain a high level of professionalism.” He reminded the gathering that they were the gatekeepers of the sector and were instrumental in the attraction and retention of businesses. Article compliments Invest Barbados and GIS.
Sustainability of the Int’l Business Sector Key
The Government of Barbados is committed to the sustainability of the International Business sector and to its operation on a level that provides a secure jurisdiction from which and in which to conduct business. This assurance comes from Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, while revealing that Barbados joined the ‘Inclusive Framework’ in July of this year and in so doing committed to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) framework and its consistent implementation. “We therefore collaborate on an equal footing with other members and will work to tackle tax avoidance, improving the coherence of international tax rules and ensuring a more transparent tax environment,” he stated. “We therefore have work to do. We must refocus our efforts on making the necessary amendments to the legislation to ensure that it meets the relevant standards and provides for the substantial business activity on which our ‘offshore’ sector was built,” he stated. Inniss was at the time addressing the International Business Week 2017 Conference “Prospering in the Technological Era: Innovate, Integrate, Motivate”, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, recently. He also disclosed that Government is currently preparing Barbados’ draft Multilateral Instrument (MLI) position for eventual signature before the end of this year. This Instrument, he explained, is an important element of the BEPs Action plan, and is one of the four minimum standards, required in order to implement the tax treaty related aspects of BEPs. “Instead of a bilateral treaty renegotiation process that would take decades, the MLI will allow the entry into force in a shorter time span of tax treaty-related BEPs measures,” he indicated. “I am sure you will agree that our country’s tax treaty network has been one of the pillars on which the international business sector has stood. This growing network is a testament to Barbados’ cooperation and demonstration of an understanding of issues that affect tax systems of partner jurisdictions. The Government of Barbados is committed to honouring these Agreements, negotiated in a spirit of mutual trust, cooperation and respect”. The Minister further acknowledged that going forward, the strengthening of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework of the international business sector will also be a priority. He said that Barbados’ Mutual Evaluation report will be considered at the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary next month and updates and revisions to the national AML/CFT regime will be informed by the outcome of that exercise. “I therefore urge you to embrace these challenging times, for they provide opportunities for the international business sector and for Barbados. You need to take a proactive stance and equip your businesses and staff with the necessary skills, technologies and knowledge to address the new changes. You too must put measures in place to strengthen your AML/CFT frameworks, for we Barbados is as strong as its weakest link,” Inniss expressed. Article compliments the Barbados Advocate and Invest Barbados
Barbados And Italy Pledge To Strengthen Ties
The exchange of instruments of ratification between Barbados and Italy to effectively conclude a Double Taxation Agreement was among the highlights of a visit to Barbados by Italy’s Special Envoy for the Caribbean, Paolo Serpi. Ambassador Serpi and Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, officially exchanged the instrument, which was first signed in August 2015, during a courtesy call at Parliament recently. During the meeting, the envoy mentioned several areas of cooperation, including fashion design, agriculture, renewable energy and climate change. Ambassador Serpi signalled his country’s intention to work more closely with CARICOM on the development of the fashion industry, as well as other areas to advance the social and economic development of both countries. In turn, Mr. Inniss expressed his interest in that project, which he believed had the potential to strengthen the work at the Barbados Community College, where there was existing infrastructure and the teaching of some of the foundation courses in fashion. He added: “We have always looked to Italy in the area of fashion, design and technology. Many Barbadians have benefited from the opportunities available by the Italian Government and Italian institutions to further their skills particularly through the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.” Regarding cooperation in agriculture, the Minister mentioned the University of the West Indies’ programme to transform the agricultural sector from farm to market, with the assistance of the Italian Government, by using the pelt of Black belly sheep to produce high-quality products. Article compliments Invest Barbados
Overstock CEO: Be the First Movers in Blockchain Technology
“If we in the Caribbean are to be competitive, relevant and even revolutionary, we must embrace Blockchain technology.” This is the view of Chairman of the Bitt Board of Directors, Peter George. While giving brief remarks at a Bitt seminar entitled, ‘Central Bank Meets Blockchain’ at the Hilton Resort, he identified “that even though some less than savoury comments have been made, we at Bitt are the ones on the forefront in the Caribbean… We have spent the last 18 months building that compliance strength. This is an opportunity for real meaningful change”. Meanwhile Dr. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, stated: “Central banks around the world are exploring digital currencies including Bank of England, Bank of Canada, Bank of Japan, etc.; they are all targeting 2018. The entire world is getting that Blockchain is a better system. “In Barbados and the Caribbean, we are ready to launch December 15. We have the whole stake built, it is no longer theory; it is the mobile wallet, merchant payment processor and the digital assets exchange and we are ready to go. They are built and in testing.” Dr. Byrne added: “What this means is the Caribbean and Barbados have a unique opportunity. There has been a lot of talk for the last 18 months, there is a crowd of the most distinguished central banks in the world lining up, but there is still a chance to be the first in the world. “I think the Central Bank that is the first in the world that adopts this technology is immediately catapulted to the very forefront of financial technology. “It is decision time for those that are here … as you consider dealing with Bitt. Bitt is a good company with the backing of a large American company. You have the unique opportunity in the next couple of months to go forward and that will put the region on the map as the most progressive forward leading Central Bank that there is, and the effects on the Central Bank and the people will be positive.” Source: The Barbados Advocate
Areas Spain Could Assist Barbados
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has identified renewable energy, tourism and culture as possible areas of collaboration between Barbados and Spain. Mr. Stuart made the comments recently when Spain’s new Ambassador to Barbados, Javier Fernandez Carbajosa, and Honorary Consul, Mandy Chandler, paid him a courtesy call at Ilaro Court. Explaining that renewable energy was very important to Barbados, the Prime Minister pointed out that the island was in the process of creating a green economy, which would require Government to invest more heavily in renewables. On the point of tourism, he said there was greater scope for people-to-people contact and he would like to see an increase in Spaniards visiting these shores. He also suggested that Barbados’ tourism infrastructure could benefit from “Spanish input”, indicating that this could boost arrivals. Mr. Stuart stated that Barbados was trying to develop its cultural industries and expressed the view that a Memorandum of Understanding with Spain could be developed in this area. Barbados and Spain established diplomatic relations 37 years ago, and the Prime Minister noted that while a Double Taxation Agreement was in place, the time had come to improve the relationship. Ambassador Carbajosa said he was ready to undertake any necessary process to push bilateral relations. He agreed that Spain could assist in the areas of renewable energy, cultural exchanges and tourism, disclosing that about 75 million tourists visited his country last year. Article and photo compliment BGIS.
Financial Institutions Put New Limits on Foreign Exchange in Trinidad and Tobago
At the height of a foreign currency crunch in Trinidad and Tobago, two financial institutions have announced new limits on foreign exchange to the public. The T&T Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) has implemented disbursement limits on its TT-dollar Income Fund Visa Electron card. In a statement, the UTC said there was “limited access” to foreign exchange in the external environment it operates in and, therefore, “the UTC has taken a decision to introduce daily and monthly limits on the international usage of the TT-dollar Income fund Visa Electron card.” UTC said daily and monthly limits on the international usage of the TT-dollar Income Fund Visa Electron Card include for “daily international ATM transactions-TT$1,000 (approximately US$147 which fluctuates based on daily rate.) Daily international Point of Sale transactions-TT$5,000 (approximately US$735 which fluctuates based on daily rate. Monthly limit of TT$20,000 (approximately US$2,940 which fluctuates based on daily rate).” JMMB Bank has also followed suit, citing what it called a “precipitous” decline in the availability of US dollars in T&T. Not only did JMMB cap transactions concerning purchases or withdrawals outside of T&T with not only US currency, but all currency types. The bank told customers that “the drastic reduction in the supply of foreign exchange has impacted, and will continue to impact our ability to facilitate your online purchases from international vendors, overseas withdrawals at ATMs, and international Point of Sale (POS) purchases. “As a result, a foreign currency limit equivalent to TT$3,500 per month will be effective from October 29, 2017 for all foreign currency online transactions including wire transfers and international point of sale purchases.” It added that customers would not be able to access foreign currency cash via ATMs but their TT-dollar limits would not be impacted. Article compliments Caribbean 360.com
Cayman still labelled as ‘notorious tax haven’
Despite the efforts of Cayman Islands’ finance industry, with government and its lobbyists spending time and money trying to paint a picture of how it fits into the global economy and its high standard of regulation, another report on tax issues relating to US-based global corporations has painted Cayman as a notorious tax haven. Offshore Shell Games 2017, a report by the US PIRG and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, outlined the extent to which Fortune 500 companies are using offshore financial centres and as a result legitimately avoiding taxes in the US on trillions of dollars of profit. Responding to the article, Cayman Finance CEO Jude Scott repeated his message that Cayman is committed to global transparency and is a strong international partner. “Reports such as this conveniently overlook how international finance centres (IFCs) like the Cayman Islands use their commitment to global standards for transparency and cross-border information sharing with law enforcement and tax authorities. Unfortunately, every jurisdiction is at risk from those who will attempt to get around the systematic safeguards, but the laws and regulations adopted by the Cayman Islands make us a strong international partner to address these concerns no matter where they originate,” he said. Explaining Cayman’s role, Scott said it was a global financial hub “connecting law abiding users and providers of investment capital and financing around the world”, which provides value for the US, UK and other major economies because it pools capital and financing for things like infrastructure development. “Cayman is a transparent jurisdiction due to our combination of a verified beneficial ownership regime, the adoption of more than twenty global financial standards and adherence to both US FATCA and the EU’s Common Reporting Standards,” Scott said. “Cayman also is participating in the OECD’s BEPS initiative and will be introducing Country-by-Country Reporting by December 2017. We meet none of the descriptions used by entities such as the OECD or Transparency International to define a tax haven. In fact, our system purposefully lacks any laws or regulations like double taxation treaties or foreign incentives that support the shifting of tax base by foreign entities to avoid corporate taxes in their home jurisdictions,” he added. The latest report focuses on the extent that Fortune 500 companies use offshore centres and what that means for tax collection on corporate profit. In the report the authors point to companies that don’t have an office in Cayman holding billions of dollars here. Ugland House, the headquarters of Cayman’s largest law firm, Maples and Calder, is again singled out in the report as a “notable symbol of these excesses”. It is described as a modest five-storey office building which is the registered address for 18,857 companies. “Simply by registering subsidiary companies in the Cayman Islands, US companies can use legal accounting gimmicks to make much of their US-earned profits appear to be earned in the Caymans and thus pay no taxes on those profits,” the report stated. Article compliments IFC Review.
St Kitts-Nevis says it will not engage in a race to the bottom
After implementing a drastic 50 percent reduction in its required donation for economic citizenship last month, which prompted Antigua and Barbuda to go even lower, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) – and by extension the government of St Kitts and Nevis – now says it “remains resolute in protecting the high standards associated with the federation’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme” and “will not engage in a race to the bottom,” reports Caribbean News Now. The St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI programme presently has three distinct citizenship options: the real estate product priced at US$400,000, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) option at US$250,000, and the recently introduced Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF) option where investors can make a non-refundable contribution of US$150,000. The Hurricane Relief Fund option, which was introduced last month, will be available for a period of six months, although St Kitts and Nevis has never satisfactorily explained who they expect to make a donation of $250,000 when the same benefit is available at $150,000. Chief executive officer of the CIU, Les Khan, stated that there is a consensus among international marketing agents that there has been “consistent excellence and professionalism associated with the platinum brand of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship programme: the oldest and best programme in the Caribbean.” During a recent trip to the Middle East, Khan reassured agents that St Kitts and Nevis has not engaged and “will not engage in a race to the bottom.” Khan explained, “We originally set a price that we felt was competitive, but was also one that maintained the standard of a platinum brand and one that was still higher than everyone else’s. There will be further adjustments, I believe, by other countries but we will not be engaged in that race to the bottom.” This point was also articulated by St Kitts and Nevis prime minister, Dr Timothy Harris, when he addressed members of the media during a press conference held last Wednesday. Harris noted that his administration will always seek to maintain the platinum standard of its CBI programme and claimed that St Kitts and Nevis has not reduced the price of any of its CBI products, but instead is now offering a third option in the form of the HRF – an apparent distinction without a difference. “Having regard to the reality of the hurricanes, we had to address that via a new offering. We are not giving undue consideration to what has happened in Antigua or in any other country. We remain focused on promoting and marketing our programme as the one which the discerning investor would want to pay attention to, and we would want to invite those investors who are looking for an enduring relationship with our country and not just for the mere acquisition of citizenship,” Harris said. The prime minister added, “We do not have an OPEC-like arrangement where countries participating in the citizenship programme come together and determine the price, and so each country, each jurisdiction at its sovereign wish, would make those judgment calls, and we respect that and we will let the market play out in terms of its responses to these issues.” Khan earlier reported an increase in the level of interest in all three CBI offerings of St Kitts and Nevis, as well as the signing on of five additional international marketing agents to promote the federation’s CBI programme. Opposition leader Dr Denzil Douglas has claimed that the new citizenship option is “a watered down CBI initiative that has not been ratified by Parliament”. He said in statement that “it raises legitimate serious questions as to the validity of the citizenship and the passport that will be derived from it”. While Khan recently highlighted a number of different steps in the due diligence process conducted by the CIU, he made no reference to the ongoing difficulties that may be experienced by holders of St Kitts and Nevis passports in conducting financial transactions in the US as a result of a still extant US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) advisory. Specifically, FinCEN believes that illicit actors are abusing the St Kitts and Nevis programme to acquire citizenship in order to mask their identity and geographic background for the purpose of evading US or international sanctions or engaging in other financial crime. In particular, FinCEN advised that US financial institutions should conduct risk-based customer due diligence to mitigate the risk that a customer is disguising his or her identity with an St Kitts and Nevis passport in order to evade sanctions or engage in other financial crime. Article compliments IFC Review.
UK investigates Brexit campaign funding amid speculation of Russian meddling
LONDON – Britain’s Electoral Commission is investigating whether a leading anti-EU campaigner breached referendum finance rules, after speculation mounted that Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote. Arron Banks, a major donor to the anti-EU campaign who was pictured with Donald Trump and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage outside a gilded elevator soon after Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential election victory, denied the allegations. The Electoral Commission, which is already looking at whether Banks’ pro-Brexit Leave.EU group received any impermissible donations, said its new investigation would examine whether he was the true source of loans to a campaigner. The investigation cannot overturn the referendum, though Banks, a 51-year-old insurance tycoon, said it was an attempt by the “Remain establishment” to discredit the Brexit result. “Allegations of Brexit being funded by the Russians … are complete bollocks [rubbish] from beginning to end,” Banks said in an emailed statement, signing off “nostrovia”, a version of “na zdorovye”, Russian for “cheers!”. When asked about the investigation, Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament: “We take very seriously issues of Russian intervention, or Russian attempts to intervene, in electoral processes or in the democratic processes of any country.” The announcement of the investigation comes after Ben Bradshaw, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party, asked the government to look into reports by advocacy group Open Democracy that the origin of some campaign funds was unclear. Bradshaw said he was also concerned about what he said were significant British connections in the U.S. investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election. Russia denies meddling in Brexit or the U.S. election and Trump denies any collusion with Russia. In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million votes, or 51.9 percent of votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million votes, or 48.1 percent of votes cast, backed staying, a result that defied opinion polls. VOTER CONFIDENCE The Electoral Commission, which did not mention Russia, said it was looking at whether a company called Better for the Country Limited (BFTCL) – of which Banks was a director – was the true source of donations made to campaigners. BFTCL was not registered as a permitted participant in the referendum but five registered campaigning groups reported receiving donations from it totalling 2.4 million pounds, the Commission said. Banks, who was a registered permitted participant, gave three non-commercial loans to Leave.EU, totalling 6 million pounds. Participants in the referendum were only allowed to accept donations from donors that conformed to a strict set of rules, for example, they could not be based outside the UK. The Commission said in April it was investigating Leave. EU’s funding as well as looking at whether its spending return was complete. “Questions over the legitimacy of funding provided to campaigners at the referendum risks causing harm to voters’ confidence,” said Bob Posner, director of political finance and regulation at the Commission. “It is therefore in the public interest that the Electoral Commission seeks to ascertain whether or not impermissible donations were given to referendum campaigners and if any other related offences have taken place,” he said. The Commission has the power to impose fines and other sanctions if it finds rules were broken. Article compliments Reuters.
U.N. calls again for end of U.S. embargo on Cuba
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, with the United States voting against it after abstaining last year for the first time in 25 years. The 193-member General Assembly passed the resolution with 191 votes in favour. Israel, as it has done in the past, voted in line with its top ally. The non-binding resolution urges the United States to repeal the embargo on Cuba as soon as possible. The U.N. vote can carry political weight, but only the U.S. Congress can lift the full embargo, put in place more than 50 years ago. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the plenary meeting on this subject “political theatre.” “The Cuban regime is sending the warped message to the world that the sad state of its economy, the oppression of its people, and the export of its destructive ideology is not its fault,” Haley told the General Assembly. The U.S. position had been announced on Tuesday at the State Department. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Haley and the United States lack “the slightest moral authority to criticize Cuba,” calling her remarks “disrespectful” against Cuba and its government. Tensions have flared recently between Washington and Havana, which forged a closer relationship under former U.S. President Barack Obama and reopened embassies in both countries in 2015. Haley said the diplomatic status between both countries is not changing. U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this month he believed Havana was responsible for a series of alleged incidents that Washington says harmed 24 of its diplomats, while Cuban officials said last week talk of acoustic strikes was “science fiction.” Article compliments Reuters
Malta Aims to be a Blockchain Trailblazer
Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary, Silvio Schembri, has set out the government’s vision to become a trailblazer in the digital economy. Addressing media at a recent press conference held at the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), which drives the use of information and communications technology on the island, he said the government intends to use next year’s budget to provide the necessary tools to make this happen. This includes prioritizing investment in MITA’s first national blockchain lab, funding specialization in blockchain technology, and investing in a “blockchain hub” to help start-ups harness this technology. The aim of these initiatives is to increase the use of blockchain technology across the island, including government, with the long-term plan to turn Malta into a “Blockchain Island.” With regards to the financial sector, Schembri said the island’s government will continue exploring and exploiting the sector’s potential. To this end, Malta’s financial services regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority, is consulting on the use of virtual currencies by collective investment schemes and plans to issue a study on regulating those who provide services of investment by means of cryptocurrencies. Schembri concluded by saying: “The same way we became successful in the igaming sector, we can be successful in the blockchain sector.” Article compliments IFC Review.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (June 24th, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its third Networking Mingle on June 26th, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (April 22nd, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its second Networking Mingle of the year on April 22nd, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Save the Date: BIBA Networking Mingle (June 24th, 2016)
The Barbados International Business Association will be hosting its third Networking Mingle on June 26th, 2016. Further details to come closer to the event.
Move to revoke licenses proves Barbados’ is a regulated jurisdiction
President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), Marlon Waldron has put to bed claims that the loss of four international business companies will affect Barbados’ economy or reputation negatively. Just one day before the start of BIBA’s week of activities, Minister of Industry and International Business, Donville Inniss made the announcement that his ministry intended to terminate the licenses of four international businesses who were suspected of being in violation of anti-money laundering regulations. The Minister has since then remained mum on who the companies are and the extent of their illegal activities, only saying his Ministry will release the names officially after all investigations are completed. Delivering the opening remarks at the BIBA Conference Thursday, October 19, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center, Waldron said the announcement has garnered “immense interest” from the media especially, but he added there are more positives than negatives to be highlighted from the situation. “It is my firm belief that this is very firm and incontrovertible evidence that Barbados’ regulatory machinery is working and is efficient and effective.” In a previous comment to the media, Inniss too had accused the media of only focusing on the negatives such as the loss of revenue the economy will incur from the action taken by the government but he noted protecting Barbados’ reputation was more critical than watching dollars and cents. Waldron went on to say the action taken by the government will have a positive impact on Barbados’ global reputation. He added “those in authority” who may have been questioning Barbados’ level of compliance with international policies now have tangible and documented evidence that the regulations are indeed working. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.
Remarks by Mr Gregory McConnie, President – BIBA Business Forum: March 31st, 2017
Remarks by Mr Gregory McConnie, President Barbados International Business Association BIBA Business Forum: Is the Barbados International Business Sector Under Attack? Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St Michael March 31st, 2017 Protocol having being established, good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us for this very timely and important Business Discussion Forum. There is much anxiety surrounding Barbados’s current economic situation, and with good reason. And as we cast our minds towards solutions and strategies for recovery we become painfully aware that challenges we are facing are both external and, sad to say, internal. Within these shores, ease of doing business remains one of our biggest downfalls. We have not shown ourselves capable of delivering consistent service in order to meet the expectations of international clients in establishing and/or operating their businesses here or domestic ones for that matter. This is evidenced in the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Report which placed the island at 72nd out of 138 countries when it came to competitiveness. The World Economic Forum’s report showed that Barbados had slipped 17 places since 2014. It also listed some of the factors which hinder the smooth flow of doing business on the island, including “poor work ethic in the national labour force” and “inefficient Government bureaucracy”. The two recent downgrades in the credit rating of the country from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s and the response to them from some of our leaders, together with the public dispute and eventual dismissal of Dr Worrell as Governor of the Central Bank, have not only deservedly generated a lot of national concern and discussion, but are no doubt having a negative impact on the country’s image as a place for doing business. We have much work to do to restore that image and get these metrics moving in the right direction. But getting it right can produce great rewards and contribute to a turnaround in our fortunes in respect of the growing national debt and the shrinking foreign reserves. However, there are also significant external, unpredictable and uncontrollable factors that are creating a challenge for the international business sector. Numerous articles and news reports, mostly international, have been published labelling Barbados as a tax haven. Just this year the country was placed on a blacklist by the UK-based aid and development charity Oxfam as one of the world’s 15 worst tax havens. Investipedia, a leading source of financial content for the web, has Barbados listed among the Top 10 Caribbean Tax Havens even though it mentions that “Barbados is not a pure tax haven” adding that “it is a very low-tax environment for offshore corporations incorporated in Barbados.” However, it is the rhetoric coming out of our number #1 investing jurisdiction, Canada, that is most worrisome. The concern began last year with the new Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his administration, whose plan is to spend a considerable amount on the Canadian Revenue Agency so it can tackle what the public perceives as Canadian businesses and individuals who park their money in low-tax jurisdictions like Barbados and don’t contribute their ‘fair share’. The rhetoric continued with bodies such as the Canadians for Tax Fairness which estimated that “wealthy individuals and corporations shifted CAN$270 billion into the world’s tax havens resulting in an annual revenue loss to the Canadian government of about CAN$8 billion”. Executive Director, Dennis Howlett, who also serves with the Global alliance for Tax Justice, claims that the top Canadian “haven of choice” is Barbados where Canadians have parked nearly CAN$80 billion. Much of the discussion in the media demonstrates a lack of understanding of the true nature of the issues and policy considerations that have led to the growth of Canadian international business. As the number one jurisdiction where Barbados gets most of its business, has this relationship been ruined or adversely affected? If so, what restorative action should we take now? On the UK front the impact of Brexit is also a concern particularly with the fall in value of the British currency and the impact that it can have on local tourism business. Also with the UK making noises about reduced tax rates will London be soon branded a tax haven by the EU as well? Are there opportunities for Barbados in the fall out from Brexit? As it relates to the new US administration, what are the implications for Barbados? Will the recent failure of the attempt to repeal or amend Obamacare negatively impact President Trump’s ability to proceed with other initiatives on his agenda? Particularly those related to deregulation of business and tax reform? Is his planned deregulation and tax reform a good or bad thing for us in the context of his ‘America First’ stance? So today we explore these questions under the umbrella question, is the Barbados international business sector under attack? This question will no doubt be thoroughly explored by the impressive line-up of speakers we have this morning. We look forward to the very dynamic discussions from all of our panels and we sincerely thank all of the panellists for taking the time out to participate in this forum today. Thank you and have a great day.
Statement On The Barbados Economy
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, colleagues, fellow Barbadians listening to this media conference over the various broadcast systems, a pleasant good afternoon to all of you. Let me begin by expressing on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs our sincere wishes for a healthy, productive and rewarding 2017 to all Barbadians. I would like in particular to register our appreciation for your support and cooperation during the course of the past year. Not unlike many other countries across the world 2016 was one of mixed fortunes for Barbados. On the one hand we witnessed an acceleration of real growth in our economy with an estimated 1.6 % expansion in the GDP, when compared to the 0.8 % level of growth in 2015. Indeed, this is the first year in which all major economic sectors, led by a resurgent tourism sector registered positive growth in the same year since the great global financial crisis of 2008. At the same time low inflation, a continuing decline in the rate of unemployment, and a seeming pick up in foreign direct investment albeit muted, painted positive signs that the recovery in the real economy was not a passing sensation, but an indisputable fact that a real economic turnaround was beginning to set in… To download the full statement from Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, please click here. Article compliments BGIS.
BHTA, BCCI and BIBA aiding hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean
The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has joined forces with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) and the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) to give some much needed assistance to Barbuda, which was recently devastated by Hurricane Irma. During a recent press conference, His Excellency Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, National Authorising Officer and National EPA Coordinator for Antigua and Barbuda, expressed his country’s appreciation for the gesture. He thanked the BCCI, BHTA and BIBA on behalf of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda for extending the hand of friendship, as well as: “All those persons who demonstrated the humanitarian drive within all of us – that when our brothers and sisters are devastated, they are willing to come to the table.” He stressed however, that there was also the need for phase two: “There is also a need for the response to deal with the rebuilding process. The Governments are trying their best to deal with the humanitarian crisis but there has to be a second phase in terms of the rebuilding in Barbuda and in Dominica. “People of the region, let us respond to our challenges together. Together we are stronger. Spare a thought for the people who have had to run from their homes. How many of us have a full appreciation of the level of psychological damage or impact or effects on the mothers, the fathers, the brothers and sisters, the children? None of us would have wanted to endure what they went through but we thank the almighty for sparing life.” BHTA CEO, Rudy Grant, explained that the Association saw the partnership as a very important and critical effort, “The entire BHTA family is supportive of this effort because we recognize that there is great discomfort in the islands affected and we recognize the importance of supporting our brothers and sisters in the region. “We cannot imagine what it must be like to have an entire island devastated in the case of Barbuda and as we also reflect on the challenges of Dominica. We are going to be refocusing our efforts because we realise there is still need for additional items and we will continue to work with the BCCI and BIBA as we continue to ensure that we are able to provide more items.” Grant added that the BHTA was also working with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) with their relief funds and gave the assurance that the Association was committed to continue working with its partners to support the efforts in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and the wider Caribbean. “The level of devastation is unimaginable. We are happy today to be a part of this effort and to say that it does not stop here. As the Ambassador mentioned, there is also the need for effort towards the rebuilding and we stand beside you as Caribbean brothers and sisters, committed to ensuring that, through our various organisations, we are able to assist,” he added. Article compliments LOOP News Barbados.
International Business Week Conference 2017 – Early Bird Registration Now Open!
Prospering in the Technological Era: Innovate, Integrate, Motivate Schedule Speakers Exhibitors Join the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA), Invest Barbados and other strategic partners for the ninth International Business Week Conference. This two-day conference is the flagship event of the International Business Week of activities and features both local and international experts who will give insight into some of the trends, developments, and issues impacting the international business and financial services sector. Topics for this year’s conference include: Artificial Intelligence: Is it Bad for Business? The Future of Work: Technology and Humanity Developed Market Debt is Rising — What are the Global Implications? Successful Economic Adjustment in Small Economies: Four Recent Examples Presenters include: Mr. Sanjay Joshi | Head of Fixed Income, London & Capital, U.K. Mr. Carlton Cummins | Co-Founder, Aceleron Ltd, U.K. Mr. Niel Harper | Senior Manager, Next Generation Leaders Programmes, Internet Society, USA Dr. DeLisle Worrell │Economic and Financial Consultant, Barbados Early Bird Tickets: $375.00 US | $750.00 BDS Early Bird Registration and Payment deadline: 29 September 2017 Regular Tickets: $450.00 US | $900.00 BDS Don’t forget: To take advantage of the Early Bird Registration rates, payment must be received on or before 29 September 2017. All payments are required in advance of the conference. Register now!! Please make cheques or drafts payable to: Barbados International Business Association. Registration closes 13 October 2017
The Canada – Barbados Connection
Canada celebrates its 150th year of Confederation on July 1, 2017. Similarly, Barbados just celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Independence on November 30, 2016. On the occasion of these two great milestones we take a close look at a close friendship and partnership that has grown between these two former British colonies. Trade and investment, as well as political and social alignment between Canada and Barbados had led to the development of a mutually beneficial partnership. With Canada’s help, Barbados has grown a high quality International Business sector that started out as an idea in the mid-1960’s and today has become the second largest contributor to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Similarly for Canada, by using Barbados as a hub for international business Canada’s economy has grown globally, is now a net exporter of capital and has become a leading international business competitor with products and services distributed right around the world. The development of this modern and synergistic relationship stems back to the 1700’s with very humble beginnings in the trade of salt fish and lumber for rum, sugar and molasses. The Canada-Barbados Connection.pdf (1.09 MB) Compliments Central Bank of Barbados.
New Location for BGIS, FTC
Members of the public are advised that the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) has relocated to the Old Town Hall Building, Cheapside, Bridgetown, and has changed its telephone numbers. The PBX is now 535-1900, while the Chief Information Officer may be reached at 535-1917. The Deputy Chief Information Officer may be contacted at 535-1939, and the BGIS’ new fax number is 535-1937. Additionally, effective Monday, March 13, the offices of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) will be temporarily relocated to the 2nd floor, Cedar Court, Wildey, St. Michael. The FTC’s telephone number remains 424-0260. Article compliments Invest Barbados.