In his 2019 Budget Address, our recently elected Premier, the Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, said that defending and promoting the BVI’s international business and financial sector was “more than just an economic priority – but almost a moral obligation.”
Why a moral obligation? The 2017 hurricanes decimated the Territory’s other key economic pillar of tourism, and without the financial services sector the BVI’s economy would have been in absolute crisis. Not only did the sector contribute 62 percent of government revenues in 2018 with a budgetary surplus, but it was also largely responsible for the 2.3 percent growth in the country’s economy.
The tenacity and resilience demonstrated by the BVI post-hurricanes is part of the fabric of who we are as a people. For me, the phrase that most encapsulates the BVI and our international business and financial services sector comes from the story of The Little Engine that Could: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
As fresh faces on the job, he as the new Premier and I as the new CEO of BVI Finance, we have in common a shared optimism that the BVI will get stronger and more resilient. And as Premier Fahie said, “It is a desired place to live and work. It is our home.”
That’s why in The Real BVI campaign launched earlier this month, we at BVI Finance intend to show – just as the slogan says – that the BVI has Real Business, Real Value and Real Integrity.
Our sector not only supports 3,000 jobs locally, but BVI business supports around 2.2 million jobs globally. According to Global Finance magazine, the BVI walks among the giants of the top ten countries winning the most inward foreign direct investments because of its investor-supportive regulations and institutions.
A study by Capital Economics reports that the BVI mediates more than US$1.5 trillion of investment globally and contributes over US$15 billion in tax revenues annually to governments around the world – positioning the BVI at the heart of the globalisation success story.
We have a strong presence in key markets across the globe and the strength of the BVI’s relationship with businesses in Asia in particular acts as a clear competitive advantage. China and the rest of Asia are responsible for more than 40 percent of the investment mediated through the BVI. We are also proud of our relationship with Latin America, with over US$114 billion of outward investment stock mediated through the BVI creating 330,000 jobs and US$0.9 billion in tax benefits in the Latin American region. As for the United Kingdom and Europe combined, the BVI is responsible for 440,000 jobs and US$8.1 billion in tax benefits.
Further, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) estimates international finance centres such as the BVI galvanized US$1.6 trillion of additional finance to developing countries in the last decade.
Most importantly, the BVI boasts a group of outstanding, experienced and trusted practitioners working locally and across the globe as corporate service providers, bankers, lawyers, trust advisors, accountants, insolvency specialists, regulators, compliance and other professionals. BVI’s expertise is readily accessible across the globe in major financial hubs.
These are just a few of the facts that demonstrate the legitimate and vital role that the BVI and other financial centres play in maintaining a stable and efficient global economy. For over three decades the BVI has been a progressive, professional international business and financial centre, offering a broad range of services and products underpinned by some of the toughest regulation in the world.
Having a viable, sustainable and above all compliant financial services industry is important to the long-term development of the BVI. As such, we have clear obligations to both the global regulatory system and to the legitimate business which operates within the BVI. Moving goalposts by international policymakers has never been a deterrent to the BVI and the robustness of our regulatory regime is a testament to our determination to keep pace with global standard setters.
We have a proactive mindset that has ensured that the BVI is recognized as largely compliant by the OECD, the Financial Action Task Force, the Financial Stability Board, IOSCO, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and other global standard setters. We remain highly vigilant and committed to the transparency and global cooperation agenda. We also champion the recognition that regulatory standards must be adhered to across the globe for them to be truly effective.
We have a growth-focused, competitive approach and continue to explore new opportunities. These lie in existing and untapped markets, in diversifying our existing product offerings and in embracing new and innovative technologies, such as blockchain, ICOs and cryptocurrencies.
As Premier Fahie said, “the BVI is open for business. Legitimate business.” And we at BVI Finance are tasked with the moral obligation of promoting The Real BVI, which has real Business, real Value and real Integrity.