While the UK, US and Europe remain important to the Island, it must seek out opportunities in frontier markets as well, says Fiona Le Poidevin of Guernsey Finance.
Protecting Guernsey business streams coming from the traditional introducer centres of the UK, wider Europe and the US is important this year. Indeed, we were given a major boost in December when our government signed a model I intergovernmental agreement with the US government in relation to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
This builds on the fact that Guernsey adopted automatic exchange of information from 2011 under measures equivalent to the EU Savings Tax Directive; early last year, we signed a package of tax measures with the UK government. It was these developments that led UK prime minister David Cameron to say that it would be unfair to label Guernsey a 'tax haven'.
These comments were very much welcomed and should assist in helping Guernsey to protect existing business streams from our traditional introducer centres.
However, it is also important for us to search out new opportunities in frontier markets. We have been active in promoting Guernsey among several key emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and the Middle East, but now we have to step up our work in these territories as well as researching and developing the potential of other regions, for example Latin America.
With that in mind, the keynote speaker for this year's Guernsey Funds Forum in London on 1 May is Jim O'Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management attributed with coining the acronym BRICs for the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. At the start of 2014, he also made headlines by referring to Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey - the next generation of rapidly developing countries - as MINTs set to be among the ten biggest economies in the next 30 years.
The forum's focus is on the pursuit of capital and how it should be deployed, including alternative asset classes and regions for investment such as the BRICs and MINTs. These are the countries where there are growing amounts of both corporate and private wealth being created and as such, we are seeing more and more family offices (FOs) from those countries seeking not only to reinvest within their countries but also to take advantage of outbound investment opportunities. And FOs from outside these regions are seeking returns through investment into these countries, for example through infrastructure projects.
Guernsey is ideally placed to service these FOs because we have a very strong private wealth sector and investment funds industry, where there is a specialisation in domiciling and servicing private equity, real estate and infrastructure funds and especially those seeking a listing on the capital markets. Indeed, figures from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to the end of December 2013 show that Guernsey is home to more entities that are listed on its markets than any jurisdiction globally, with the exception of the UK. And Guernsey added more new entities during 2013 than anywhere else (excluding the UK), which shows the continued recognition from clients and their advisers in the sophistication we have in providing London listings.
That news was an extremely positive start to the year for Guernsey and we will be seeking to build on this further during 2014 both at home and further afield, including in the BRICs and MINTs.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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