During a meeting with the Ambassador from one of the world’s major economies, the Ambassador told me that Guernsey’s strategic position was almost too good to be true: part of the British Isles and part of the sterling zone but not a part of the United Kingdom; a strong cultural, geographic and business relationship with Europe but not part of the European Union; and with deep historic and trading links across the world.
Aside from the happy accident of geography, it has taken determination, vision and investment to develop that strong strategic position.
Guernsey’s government is absolutely committed to maintaining that strong strategic position, and that clear and compelling offer of stability, quality and competitiveness.
Guernsey’s stability comes from its historic ties with the British Isles, London and the City.
As a Crown Dependency, we exercise a large degree of autonomy. That includes our own legal, fiscal and judicial systems. We receive no funds from the UK or the EU and have the responsibility for funding all our own public services by raising our own taxes. We are able to maintain low taxes alongside high quality public services by keeping government lean. The financial watchword of our government is ‘prudence,’ which is reflected in the fact that we run a balanced budget and have our own sovereign wealth fund investing our surplus reserves.
We also have a commitment as government to continue to meet global standards – recognised and validated by international bodies such as the OECD, the IMF and the Council of Europe. This puts us at the forefront of international finance centres, providing certainty and stability.
Brexit will bring many changes, but what it will not change is the strong and mutually beneficial relationship that Guernsey has with the British Isles, the UK and the City of London.
Similarly Guernsey’s approach on financial services with the EU will not change. It will remain based on equivalence and Guernsey has already stated its commitment to meeting the EU’s new data protection regulation to provide further stability.
Guernsey’s quality has developed over many years and you will read more about that in this publication.
Our focus on trust and fiduciary, insurance, investment management and banking has helped us to develop a professional services infrastructure that is second to none, and which in terms of quality outshines many larger jurisdictions.
Our regulator has developed a well-deserved international reputation for excellence, and for supporting innovation and quality, and provides leadership on international bodies which set regulatory standards.
The Guernsey-based International Stock Exchange also goes from strength to strength, providing a responsive and innovative listing facility for international companies to raise capital from investors based around the globe.
Guernsey’s competitiveness is multi-faceted.
Built on the foundations of stability and quality, Guernsey is a jurisdiction that recognises and supports innovation – whether it is fintech, cyber-security or the development of new products such as protected cell companies (PCCs) and private investment funds (PIFs).
Guernsey’s corporate tax regime is compliant with international standards and is supported by a commitment from the government in Guernsey not to introduce capital taxes on gains, wealth or inheritance.
Guernsey is open for business – and to reaffirm this, the government in Guernsey has recently streamlined the processes for business-related work permits. This means that where expertise does not currently reside in Guernsey, it can be brought in more readily.
Guernsey has never stood still and will continue to invest in its infrastructure, to further strengthen our data connectivity and transport connectivity, ensuring we are even better connected to global markets.
These are challenging times for the global economy.
Of course, with challenges come opportunities.
Built on stability, quality and competitiveness, Guernsey is the ideal place from which to take advantage of those opportunities.
Gavin St Pier
President of Policy & Resources Committee