Bermuda Central Open For Business
Being “open for business” is easier said than done when a pandemic has the world in its grip, but Bermuda can claim to be just that. It is one of few jurisdictions in the world that can boast not only open borders, but also a safe environment for arriving visitors.
Independent verification of that comes from Bermuda’s “Safe Travels” designation from the World Travel & Tourism Council and the “very low risk” for Covid-19 categorisation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That the island has continued to function relatively normally as an international business centre, registering and licensing new companies, while welcoming business and leisure visitors alike, owes much to its quick, strong and organised response to Covid-19.
Stringent testing and tracing were introduced on the island after the virus spread around the world in March. The measures were clearly communicated by the Government and strongly supported by the community. David Burt, the Premier, recognising the connection between curbing the spread of the virus and supporting prosperity, said: “We have chosen to use aggressive testing to open our economy and open our borders so that Bermudians can get back to work, and our economy can thrive. Our strategy is working, we are fifth in the world in testing.”
Bermuda’s LF Wade International Airport, which reopened to commercial flights on July 1 after a three-month closure, has earned accreditation from Airports Council International for its health and safety protocols, offering further reassurance to visitors.
On August 1, the Government launched the Work From Bermuda Certificate, offering nonresidents the opportunity to work or study remotely from the island for a full year.
The launch of the programme was typical of the island’s oft-shown ability to be nimble and innovative in challenging times and to respond to the ever-evolving needs of the world.
Premier Burt, welcoming applicants, says: “No need to be trapped in your apartment in a densely populated city with the accompanying restrictions and high risk of infection; come spend the year with us working or coding on the water.” Within weeks of the launch, hundreds had applied, attracted by Bermuda’s safety record, beautiful environment and warm climate.
Bermuda combines an innovative, “can-do” environment for international business with the stability that comes from having a legal system based on the common law of England and Wales through its connection as a self-governing British Overseas Territory. Relations between business, government and regulators are symbiotic rather than confrontational, meaning new ideas are welcomed and innovation enabled.
Regulation is prudent, but not suffocating. With regard to the island’s flagship re/insurance industry, financial-services regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority has earned Solvency II third-country equivalence recognition from the European Union and has Qualified Jurisdiction status from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in the United States.
Such strengths, in addition to the island’s favourable geographical position, less than two hours flying time from New York and about six hours from London, have helped the island become home to a range of industries, from reinsurance, trusts and asset management, to shipping, aviation and space research.
Bermuda never rests on its laurels. In 2018, the Government passed legislation enabling regulatory certainty and a legal framework for fintech businesses. Innovators are given an opportunity to test new products or technologies in a controlled environment for a defined time through a “regulatory sandbox” — providing ideas with a bridge to potential commercial reality.
World-class legal and accounting firms, together with robust IT and electronic communications services, and the Bermuda Stock Exchange, the world’s leading, fully electronic, offshore securities exchange, build out a strong commercial infrastructure.
The Bermuda Business Development Agency encourages direct investment and assists companies in setting up, relocating or expanding operations on the island. As a public-private partnership, the BDA connects investors with industry professionals, regulatory officials and key government figures to meet their needs with maximum efficiency.
Throughout the pandemic, the Agency has worked to keep the clients and markets it serves worldwide up to date with latest developments. And to keep Bermuda front of mind for decision makers, the BDA launched its “Bermuda Central” campaign for print and digital media.
The “Continuity Central” theme highlights that Bermuda has been open for business and supporting global clients despite Covid-19. “World Central” emphasises the island's global business ecosystem, “Transparency Central” its regulatory and compliance regime, and “Talent Central” the depth and the quality of available human capital.
The campaign also promotes three relevant industry themes: “Risk Central”, “Tech Central” and “Family Central”, and also puts the spotlight on more specific areas where Bermuda is a major player, such as “Capital Central”, “Trust Central” and “Shipping Central”.
Bermuda has earned the right to describe itself as a “blue-chip jurisdiction” through decades of meeting and exceeding international standards. In terms of compliance and transparency, Bermuda appears on the EU’s white list of fully cooperative tax jurisdictions. The island is party to 41 bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreements and has more than 125 multilateral treaty partners.
The island also exchanges information under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Common Reporting Standard and Country-by-Country initiative, as well as being a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.
Bermuda has always shown an ability to adapt to meet the challenges of the day. As Roland Andy Burrows, the BDA’s chief executive officer, says: “As a small island, we have consistently punched above our weight in the world of international commerce but to do so we have had to be nimble, innovative and forward-thinking.”
Expect that to continue.