Remarks of Jamar Arthur Selman, President of BIBA, The Association For Global Business, at the Media Launch of Global Business Week 2023



Good morning!

I wish to extend warm greetings to our featured speaker today, Senator The Honorable Lisa Cummins, Minister of Energy and Business, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Kevin Hunte, the Directors, Members and Staff of BIBA, the Association for Global Business, representatives of our valued sponsors, our Global Business Week Steering Committee, other key partners, and members of the Media.

Welcome to the Launch of Global Business Week 2023, which will be staged this year from October 22 to 28 and include within our full slate of activities, our highly anticipated hybrid Global Business Conference to be held on October 26th  and 27th at Hilton Barbados.

Among the keys to resilience and remaining relevant in a world that is demanding, highly competitive, and even ruthless, are being nimble, anticipating the moves of competitors and being responsive to the needs of your current and potential clients. Importantly, to ensure that you stay in the game and operate among the top tier players requires that you remain level-headed even when challenges to your success are fierce and repeated.

This represents the playing field in which Barbados’ global business sector has operated for more than five decades. It is the canvas of our continued success story and has fortified this sector ensuring that we remain a key pillar of the Barbados economy.

BIBA, the Association for Global Business has continued to stage its Global Business Week in collaboration with its strategic partners including the Ministry of Energy & Business, Invest Barbados and Export Barbados, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and the University of the West Indies, under the overarching theme of Adapt. Evolve. Execute – Be the Change.  And specifically with the focus on Global Business Today, Thriving in a Modern Era being the core of our two-day Global Business Week Conference.

By way of background, the world economy has been through a great deal of turbulence including an unprecedented global pandemic, financial sector instability with persistent foreshadowing of recession in some global markets, and of course, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the conflict there that is into its second year, posing a threat to the world’s food and oil production and supply.

It is important to recognise and appreciate that our sector has maintained its place because we have learned to adapt to an ever changing global space where much hinges on our ability to evolve and execute as seamlessly as possible.

Developments such as the global minimum tax rate remain an ever present issue for us, government, and tax administrators. We are also mindful that some important decisions will be required by year-end on this matter.

As evidence of the sector’s adaptability, we are moving away from tax as the driver for our continued growth. We are relying more on our ability as a domicile that provides value added services and the quality of the professionals who work in the global business sector and its constituent parts such as the legal and insurance communities.

We have also enjoyed a number of important wins in the sector. The island also remains highly competitive in the Captives insurance market, and we are now the 7th largest domicile for captives in the world.

In addition, the island undertook the necessary legislative reforms and actions to allow for our removal from the European Union’s controversial Annex 1 black list of countries deemed non-cooperative in matters of taxation.

It was a list on which we were placed in October 2020 and which we vigorously opposed.

Though we look the picture of gracefulness and elegance of swans above water, below the surface we have been fiercely paddling, working with Government, technocrats, regulators, and partners in key jurisdictions to defend the sector’s integrity and value to Barbados’ economy.

This brings me to the matter of latent suggestions about the viability of the global business sector in light of the continued challenges and efforts from outside to undermine its expansion. The decision to converge the tax rates for domestic and international businesses may have also added to such fears.

I will respond in this way: our global business sector is much stronger and more resilient than ever. Why? By consistently being under the pressure of regulators to meet rigorous international standards and to institute certain processes, we are better placed to withstand the scrutiny and respond to changes.

We have always been a well-regulated jurisdiction, but we now have a fully built-out compliance infrastructure. Our International Business Unit within the Ministry of Energy and Business has been strengthened and is very responsive. We also have a much stronger Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and all the other regulators, such as the Financial Services Commission and the Central Bank of Barbados are sounder as a result of the implementation of policies, guidelines and procedures.

We have the full bona fides to support our claims of being a robustly regulated domicile. As much as we may dislike being under the microscope, facing increased reporting regulations, it has resulted in Barbados having one of the strongest regulatory environments from the standpoint of robustness and knowing exactly what is required.

In this connection, I wish to touch briefly on the contribution of the global business sector and our ability to quantify its importance.

Significant strides are being made in this direction to truly measure the impact on the economy. We know from some data that following changes to the corporate tax rate from 25% to 5.5%  for domestic companies, the decline in tax intake was more than compensated for by the increase in the contribution by global business entities which, in some cases, were no longer able to pay as low as 0.25% and max 2.5% and saw their obligations rise to between 1% and 5.5%. Currently we are informed that the contribution of entities operating in the global business sector amounts to as much as 73% of the total corporate tax revenue received by the BRA.

Players in the global business sector continue to also contribute to the tourism, and the real estate sector through hotel stays on business trips, property rentals and the acquisition of second homes. Since a 2013 Invest Barbados report, we have been citing that our sector contributes over $800M to the Barbados economy through real estate rental, tourism and travel, salaries and fees. However for several reasons data on the sector and its contribution needs to be updated and continuously monitored. To that end government is now leading a collaborative effort with input from BIBA to begin to provide more timely, accurate and ongoing reporting on the contributions of our important sector.

I can assure you the sector is moving from strength to strength. We have not seen any slowdowns in terms of the formation of entities. There has been no decline in jobs in the sector, and there has been no decline in funds collected by the regulatory agencies for fees and licences.

As we look forward to another successful Global Business Week, we are pleased to welcome as our Global Business Conference Day 2 Keynote Speaker – Dr Hyginus Leon, President of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Among the topics to be addressed by local and international thought leaders include Negotiating Complex Cross Border Transactions in Wealth Management, The Global Minimum Corporate Tax, , Global Business Opportunities in Agriculture and Food Security, Implications of Digital Currencies & Digital Wallets for Global Business, among many others.

Among the other events are our Secondary Schools Symposium on October 24, and our highly anticipated Public Discussion Forum also on October 24, and our Careers Showcase on October 25.

We have added to our roster of events the 2nd Annual Ben Arrindell International Golf Classic on November 5th. This exceptional event blends the love of golf with philanthropy, creating a profound impact on Barbados’ healthcare landscape. It is a collaborative effort orchestrated by the BIBA Charity in partnership with other dedicated organisations.

This is especially important to us in BIBA because it also celebrates the life and contribution of our late stalwart Ben Arrindell. Proceeds from our last golf classic, which attracted 80 players,allowed us to purchase dialysis machines and chairs valued at over $120 000 for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Artificial Kidney Unit, of which Ben was a patient.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are excited to launch Global Business Week 2023 and invite you to spread the word of this significant event on the island’s annual business calendar. We also want to thank all our supportive sponsors who continue to back all our activities.