EDITORIAL: Zooming in on Canada


As almost every Barbadian must know by now, our economy is built around tourism and the provision of services, particularly services in the international financial business.
These two planks of the economy simultaneously provide foreign exchange and jobs for Barbadians across a broad span of occupations, and they constitute a good fit.
Our low tax rates and our network of double taxation treaties provide a good platform from which we continue to launch an invitation for high net worth individuals and pioneering companies to come to Barbados to do business. And we complement this appeal with a well trained and educated workforce.
In this context, the recent International Financial Service Workshop sponsored by the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and held at Hilton Barbados, was a timely look at some developments in the Canadian market that could have an adverse impact on our international business sector.
Reginald Farley, a former Minister of International Business and now the executive director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, was well placed to put the issues in perspective. He told the meeting that the focus was the update on what the Canadians were looking for in terms of doing business in Barbados.
After outlining the major importance of the Canadian market to our economy and our competitive edge in the double taxation treaty arrangements, he pointed to a present danger and threat facing us.
Farley told the gathering that the financial services industry was now under further attack, because Canada was executing tax information exchange agreements with many other countries and thereby removing our advantage.
In fact, according to Farley, professional practitioners from Bermuda were already in Canada soliciting our traditional business.
Now, if such strategies succeed, our industry may be adversely affected and we can hardly afford any diminution in the quantum and quality of business at this critical juncture of our economy.
So that constant attention to detail and changes in the international businesses arena forces us to keep on our toes, lest our competitors steal a march on us and entice our business away from these shores.
Fortunately, it seems that this matter is engaging the attention of Government since Mr Adriel Brathwaithe, addressing the meeting in his capacity as Attorney General, disclosed that moves were afoot to ease the legal requirements for the establishment and operation of trust companies here.
This is a good start, but more must be done to encourage our established business to remain here and to persuade new entrants to the industry that Barbados is the place to register their businesses.
This island already has in place a network of double taxation treaties, developed from our earliest entry into the sector. Our competitors do not have such a network, and greater use must be made of the advantages from an international tax planning and business perspective of this network.
The decision-makers and professional advisors in our client countries must be alerted to our unique profile, and we must make every effort to get the International Arbitration Centre established here as an additional service which will help us to generally advertise our matrix of services and help us to maintain our edge as a financial centre.


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