FRIDAY, NOV. 16: Small international financial centres like Bermuda should work more closely with other offshore jurisdictions to protect their interests, a high-powered London think tank has said.

Grant Stein, chairman of the International Financial Centres (IFC) Forum, said: “It was encouraging to hear the level of political support at the conference for our constituency and it highlights the importance of enhanced cooperation, both in the private sector and inter-governmental level, in promoting the value of international financial centres.”

David Cash, chairman of international business group Business Bermuda, welcomed the UK’s recognition of the importance of Bermuda as a reinsurance and insurance market and as a centre for offshore finance.

But he warned the island should not lose its competitive edge over its competitors.

He said: “Looking to the future, Bermuda, through the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, has done a first-rate job of ensuring that international regulators view Bermuda as a top-quality domicile with a world-class regulatory environment.

“That achievement sets Bermuda apart from almost every other offshore domicile and as a consequence I feel that collaborating with other smaller domiciles would likely be of less value for Bermuda than it might be for our competitors.

“That said, were there to be obvious benefits to Bermuda in such collaboration, I am sure that international business would be supportive of exploring these opportunities.”

Mr Cash added: “It is very important that Bermuda has the backing of the UK when it comes to securing our position as a global centre for reinsurance, insurance and finance.”

Premier and Minister of Finance Paula Cox did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Former Conservative government minister John Redwood told a meeting of the IFC that tax competition was important and stressed the “mutually beneficial” relationship between the City of London financial centre and small international financial centres like Bermuda and other Overseas Territories.

He was backed by Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster and Lord Blencathra, former Tory MP David Maclean, who is recognised as an expert on offshore centres.

A spokesman for the IFC said: “The conference closed with an informative discussion on achieving greater cooperation between IFCs, concluding that in the face of common threats, small IFCs will be better represented at the negotiating table if they work together on issues of shared interest.”

Julie Nutter, counsellor for economic affairs at the US Embassy in London, confirmed  the US government would push ahead with tax reform – but said that it would also attempt to safeguard economic growth.

The IFC spokesman added that the group was also committed to selling the benefits of offshore financial centres and dispelling the “tax haven” image.

He said: “Ensuring that the public debate around IFCs, financial intermediation and cross-border business is informed by authoritative information serves the public interest.”

The IFC was created in 2009 to lobby policymakers in the G20 group of the world’s most powerful countries and to advise on moves to reform the regulation
of international financial services.

Members include major professional firms based in the UK’s offshore financial centres.