George Hutson, Minister of International Business and International Transport. (FP)

Although there has been notable growth and development in the international business sector, the past three years have been somewhat challenging. As a result, Government is putting measures in place to increase Barbados’ competitive advantage in the international arena.

This was word from Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, as he welcomed the start of International Business Week last Sunday at the Hawthorne Memorial Methodist Church. ??

The Minister mentioned the moderate growth in the licensing of international entities over the past three years, pointing especially to comparisons between 2009 and 2010. He stated that in 2010, 442 new entities were licensed compared to 408 in 2009, which represented a 7.7 per cent increase; while there was also a 9.8 per cent increase in licensed International Business Companies.

However, Mr. Hutson expressed confidence that the sector would grow, with legislative assistance from his administration. "The Government wishes to highlight that it has put in place measures to ensure our competitiveness in the international business arena. In the circumstances where the playing flied is being levelled, it is critical that the businesses we do attract remain in our jurisdiction," he said.

He pointed out that the lack of transparency and exchange of information in some jurisdictions is one of the main concerns of the international community and, as a result, the Global Forum on transparency and exchange on information for tax purposes had been moving to conduct reviews of the relevant legal framework.

"Obstacles, such a bank secrecy or domestic tax interest which had preciously stood in the way of effective exchange of information for tax purposes are now being aggressively removed by individual countries.

"In this environment, we in Barbados are in the process of review and amendment of existing legislation to address issues raised in our Phase One Peer Review Report," the Minister stated.

He reported that within the past year, Government had undertaken some legislative reforms which would enhance Barbados’ overall framework for exchange of information. The reforms included the amendment of the Income Tax (Exchange of Information) Regulations 2011, Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention and Control) Act 2011, the Financial Services Commission Act, the International Corporate and Trust Service Providers Act, and the Companies (Amendment) Act.

Mr. Hutson noted that while Double Taxation Agreements, such as the one signed with the Czech Republic last Wednesday, represented Barbados’ policy preference to implement the standard of transparency and exchange of tax information, "many countries prefer to negotiate Tax Information Exchange Agreements" (TIEAs).

"We cannot afford to be left behind and concede competitive advantage to other jurisdictions. Consequently, we are in the process of negotiating TIEAs with France and Germany and have concluded negotiations of TIEAs with the Nordic countries," he revealed.


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