Welcome to the IFC Caribbean 2020 in which we report on the challenges, opportunities, and developments in Barbados, Bahamas, BVI, Antigua, Cayman Islands, and Bermuda, and the region as a whole.
This has been a year of necessary re-invention for jurisdictions in the Caribbean. Not only have they had to find ways of continuing to survive and thrive as the Covid-19 pandemic forced business closures and the temporary cessation of cross global trade, they have also had to deal with the onslaught of ever-changing tax requirements and ongoing regulatory demands from the European Union.
The impact of economic substance regulations has been significant for all jurisdictions, some of which still remain on the EU ‘Blacklist’ for alleged non-compliance with the EU’s code of conduct. The EU has been unilaterally lambasted for its “bully boy” tactics. In fact, as our leading article illustrates, blacklists generally, and European blacklists in particular, are claimed to be “effectively discouraging the only successful development strategy in the Caribbean”. The authors of this particular article label this effort to forcibly impose European policies the ‘New Tax Colonialism’.
In the midst of such turbulence, however, lie opportunities. A case in point can be found in the area of Arbitration. In recent years, Caribbean jurisdictions such as the BVI, Caymans, and Barbados have added international arbitration, particularly of the commercial kind, to their suite of services on offer. Indeed, one of our contributors believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to showcase the advantages of arbitration as a form of dispute resolution – a kind of “silver lining” offered to the region’s jurisdictions.
We take a look at how some of the jurisdictions are exploring arbitration as an opportunity for growth. In addition, our specific jurisdictional coverage includes updates on trusts, including the need for Private Trust Companies and Blessings applications, fund management, family offices, including the Family Office Act in Bermuda, and other pertinent topics. We also report on FinTech developments as many Caribbean economies grapple with how best to leverage technology to solve the challenge of costly and inefficient payment services, including for cross-border transactions. Read on to find out all the latest advances and improvements being carried out by the individual jurisdictions.