Local officials are reporting an increased interest among overseas firms in establishing a presence in Barbados.
This comes as the island continues to seek out new business opportunities in new markets, and even amid concern about Barbados being named by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes as a “partially compliant” jurisdiction, and the subsequent blacklisting by the European Union (EU) Council.
Sandra Payne, Director of Research and Development at Invest Barbados, told Barbados TODAY despite the pandemic, the economic development agency was continuing its push to get new companies to set up in Barbados.
“The main thrust is virtually. We are hosting webinars, we are hosting focus groups, we are conducting one-on-one meetings,” she said, adding that several firms and individuals in a range of industries were showing growing interest.
“We continue to see interest particularly in financial services.
There has been an uptick in enquiries with respect to what we would call captive insurance; interest in ICT; in niche manufacturing; and some health-related areas – for example, in education. We also see buoyant interest in the renewable energy sector and the life sciences sector.
We are also servicing medical cannabis enquiries at this time.”
There has also been an increase in the number of companies applying to hold a foreign currency permit and the number of entities applying to become corporate and trust services.
To hold a foreign currency permit, a company must be earning all its revenue in foreign exchange.
These developments come even as Barbados is forced to wait until February 2021 to find out if it will be removed from the OECD Global Forum list of jurisdictions considered partially compliant with the exchange of tax information standard.
The country was also placed on the EU’s “blacklist” in May because of the OECD Global Forum designation and, in an expected decision, remained on that list when the EU Council issued its latest list on October 6.
President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) Derrick Cummins said such actions could be the difference between a company choosing Barbados as a jurisdiction in which to do business or not.
“Every corporation, especially larger corporations, that looks for a jurisdiction to invest in and develop in has its own matrix of risk. And a ‘blacklisting’ falls in that matrix in a negative manner and will immediately make such a jurisdiction look a little less attractive. So, what we have to do is make sure that in the other parameters on that matrix we are winning so that overall we still come out on top in that matrix,” explained Cummins.
He said the partially compliant status could also serve as a trigger for issues relating to correspondent banking.
“This will be another excuse or trigger to make correspondent banks relook Barbados. The good thing is that this is October, this is four months away, but we have a strategy to get this reversed. And we encourage all corporations to talk to their service provider, to talk to BIBA, to talk to the ministry, who will all be accessible to give a level of comfort and update continuously on what we are doing to get off this list and fight this scourge,” Cummins added.
He and Payne were responding to questions from Barbados TODAY during the recent virtual launch of BIBA’s Global Business Week 2020 launch.
Speaking on Tuesday during a radio programme, Director of International Business Kevin Hunte said Barbados continued to hold its own when it came to attracting new business.
He said there was also an increase in the corporate tax revenue collection for Government, “particularly in the months we were in lockdown”. (MM)