Originally published 1 May 2009.
Guernsey's position on the OECD 'white list' is giving it an edge over competitors in the race for financial services business in China.
A delegation from Guernsey spent last week (20th April – 24th April) meeting senior government and regulatory officials as well as fiduciary and funds business introducers such as lawyers and accountants in both Beijing and Shanghai.
This was the Island's third major delegation to Shanghai – where it has a permanent office – but the first time that it has had such a large presence in Beijing.
"A recurring theme of the meetings was Guernsey's position on the OECD 'white list' that was published at the conclusion of the G20 summit in London at the start of April. Our hosts were particularly interested in how this compared with the 'grey listing' of the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands – two jurisdictions which are widely used in China for company formation," said Peter Niven, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance.
"In fact several senior officials specifically brought up the issue and were keen to learn about the work we had undertaken to achieve the 'white list' status. This position gives our offering an extra edge and is something we will be looking to maximise going forward so that we can attract business that might have otherwise gone to competitors such as these traditional favourites from the Caribbean."
Guernsey's 'white listing' comes after the Island was ranked 12th in the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) published in March this year. This placed Guernsey ahead of Jersey (13th), Luxembourg (14th), the Isle of Man (18th), the Cayman Islands (22nd) and the British Virgin Islands (34th).
Mr Niven added: "There was also tremendous interest in the potential for listing on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange (CISX) as a way to access European markets. The Shanghai Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange already have very strong links. We have very good links with both and will be looking to build on these, particularly those between the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange so that we can develop future business flows."
Last week's delegation comprised Mr Niven and representatives from Trident Trust, Goethe Management, Richmond Fiduciary Group and Deloitte. The itinerary comprised four distinct programmes running concurrently so that in both cities the team could meet with leading fiduciary and funds business introducers such as lawyers, accountants and consultants as well as government and regulatory officials.
These latter meetings included the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the People's Bank of China, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the British Embassy while in Beijing and the Shanghai Municipal Financial Services Office and the British Consulate General in Shanghai.
It had been announced just prior to the delegation's arrival that Shanghai has been designated as China's major financial centre with the aim of developing it to a stature similar to that of the City of London by 2020.
Mr Niven said: "We had some indication that this would be the case because of comments made by Shanghai's Vice-Mayor Tu during his visit to Guernsey at the end of last year. It was at this time that he highlighted how Guernsey's experience and expertise as a leading international finance means that we can play an important part in the expansion of the financial services sector in Shanghai over the coming decade.
"Indeed I met with Dr Fang Xinghai, Director General at the Shanghai Municipal Financial Services Office, who is spearheading the city towards its 2020 goal. We have an extremely good relationship and I think it is very likely Guernsey will be involved in the work that he is doing.
"In Beijing we met a number of the regulatory bodies as well as visiting Xie Duo, the Minister for International Affairs at the People's Bank of China – what is in effect the central bank. He was part of the delegation that visited Guernsey last year and has since moved from Shanghai to Beijing. We also have a very good relationship and this should assist us greatly as we continue to develop our presence in the city."
Guernsey is planning to continue its promotional push in the Far East region during October and November this year through a range of activities in China off the back of participation at SuperReturn Asia in Hong Kong and as headline sponsor at STEP Asia in Singapore.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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