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Recasting Gibraltar’s appeal to encourage business opportunities
Being outside the EU is an opportunity not a threat, according to Gibraltar’s government, but what is it that the jurisdiction thinks can be done to succeed post-Brexit?
jurisdiction, he pointed out. “We are already doing so, as is Jersey,
Guernsey and the Isle of Man. We all are very close to the UK and have similar legal systems and if you look at the number of licence applications to our regulator it’s more than we had before the EU Referendum. Between Gibraltar and the UK there is no difference in our legislation and being in the EU they are both combined; they [the Channel Islands and Isle of Man] would have to make changes.”
Whilst minister for business and employment, Neil Costa, emphasises that the government is doing all it can “to safeguard and protect Gibraltar’s present and future interests”, Albert Isola, the financial services and gaming minister, has been spreading the word at Swiss funds and UK private finance conferences that there will be continued advantages for businesses to be based in Gibraltar – it is just the selling proposition that will have to change!
Presenting The Rock as a stepping stone into Europe is a message quietly being mothballed, whilst the UK negotiates life outside of the EU – a minimum 2-year process that Prime Minister Theresa May has said will start in March.
Instead, Gibraltar, which has enjoyed full access to European markets by virtue of Britain’s EU membership, is starting to promote itself as “Gateway to the UK”.
UK-facing business
Around 90% of financial services business is already UK focused, but Gibraltar’s automatic access to Britain is only as a result
of EU free movement of trade. Stephen Reyes, senior partner at account- ants Deloitte (Gibraltar), noted: “We are trying to develop business, but we are struggling to see our potential opportunities outside of the EU. We have the advantage of a
good jurisdictional reputation and noted for our fast responsiveness and full transparency.”
Since the Brexit vote there had been no slowdown in private clients business as it is not generally EU-dependent. “If they want access to the UK they need to have their base here at generally lower cost. [But] there may need to be a number of bilateral agreements with the UK to cover each sector to formalize our access to that market.”
UK ‘gateway’ campaign
Christian Hernandez, president of Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, told Gibraltar International he believed low corporation tax and low individual taxes, coupled with having no inheritance and capital gain taxes and a Mediterranean lifestyle would help sell the new ‘Gibraltar - gateway to
Peter Montegriffo, a senior partner at Hassans law firm with extensive business and eGaming experience, felt: “When the sta- tus quo changes and we are removed from our comfort zone and charged with looking at things afresh, that in itself is an opportunity.
“Brexit, will put us all to the test, London, Madrid and Gibraltar: we are now going to have to determine how we inter- act with each other in the 21st century – not because Europe
the UK’ campaign - a bilat- eral ‘passport’ offer on serv- ices.
Isola concurred: “A lot of the work we have done in these last few months has brought out, with a greater degree of clarity, the enormous trad- ing relationships between Gibraltar and the UK, and also to put into context the [smaller than anticipated] amount of passporting there is with the European Union.
Albert Isola, Financial Services minister: license applications higher than before Brexit vote
Deloitte’s Stephen Reyes champions general lower costs
He told Gibraltar International: “It is very clear to us that the UK [business] ‘passport’ – if I can call it that – is far more important to us than European Union passporting, although of course we would like to retain that as well if at all possible.” In the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit – one where the UK has no automatic free trading entry to the EU and an outcome he sees as too early to predict - “Gibraltar would re-invent itself as an entry point for EU firms wanting to access a cut-off British market, via our territory’s attractive tax and regulatory regime.	Being outside the EU is an opportunity not a threat,” Isola insisted.
Given that 8,000 European firms currently passport their services into the UK, “we would encourage people who are seeking access to the UK to come to Gibraltar, in the same way as UK firms would need to make arrangements for their European markets”, Isola declared.
It would not be difficult to sell Gibraltar as a UK entry point; witness the number of UK-facing insurance entities attracted to the
says so, not because of the Directives imposed on us, but because we have to get on as com- munities with common interests and a shared, common space.	So that is a challenge.... and it will bring difficulties, but also an opportuni- ty to reboot.”
EU overly prescriptive
Whilst Gibraltar business valued the EU single market, there was also “no doubt that some aspects of EU legislation have become overly prescriptive; we have gone along with this trend, because the greater prize is the single market,” Montegriffo declared.
Some Gibraltar business professionals argue that there is scope for the territory to adopt a twin approach to business standards. Reyes, who is also chairman of the Finance Centre Council, a broad representative body advising government, explained: “[With Brexit] we would be ridding ourselves of some of the shackles of EU Directives.	Its not so much a case of dropping Directives, but developing alternatives – a two tier approach,
Continued on p24
Gibraltar International

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