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‘Friction-free’ Bermuda will help attract IB

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From the power of collaboration to a story about the British military firing on the first America's Cup boat to be sighted off the coast of Bermuda, there was plenty of variety at the Association of Bermuda International Companies' (Abic) annual meeting.

Collaboration was the recurring theme at the gathering of the business leaders, who were joined by guest speaker Sam Hollis, chief operating officer for the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA).

Patrick Tannock, Abic's chairman, called for continued collaboration between the Bermuda Government, Abic members, unions and community stakeholders to ensure Bermuda remains a leader in international business.

“These are tough times and we are all expected to do more with less. In addition to experiencing social and economic challenges, increased scrutiny and intense competition from other jurisdictions, Bermuda is facing unprecedented change and we are in unchartered territory,” he said.

“We need to ensure that Bermuda remains user-friendly, friction-free and solution-orientated. Our attitude and behaviours will set us apart from our competitors.

“That is why it is critical that everyone in Bermuda fully understands the value of international business to the Island's economy and the responsibility that each of us have for ensuring that we maintain that value. We cannot afford to be polarised on this issue.”

Abic has been involved in a number of initiatives this year aimed at spreading a greater understanding of the importance of international business (IB) to the Island's economy.

“It must be clear that international business is not the bad guy or the spoiled one that gets everything it wants,” he said.

“In order to remain competitive, Bermuda must provide an environment in which international business gets what it needs to thrive.

“Likewise, we in international business must be respectful of Bermuda's culture as well as the aspirations and values of the Bermuda people. We're all in this together.”

The organisation, which represents more than 100 international companies incorporated in Bermuda, has been holding meetings with unions, public schools, political parties and other stakeholders as part of its communications drive.

In partnership with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, it has been promoting an expanded, multimedia campaign known as #everybodysbusiness, which shows how IB positively affects everyone on the Island, fuels growth and job creation, and how everyone can play a part in helping IB continue to flourish.

The campaign has included ten one-hour radio show slots, media advertising and informative videos being shown online and at a number of locations around the Island.

Abic has met with guidance counsellors and curriculum officers at public senior schools to develop the economics curriculum, with a particular aim of helping students to understand the Island's economy, the value of IB and the challenges and the opportunities within the sector.

Mr Tannock, who was appointed chairman at the start of the year, said Abic intends to build on its efforts during 2016.

Following Mr Tannock's address to the meeting, a video featuring of the drama of the America's Cup 2013 in San Francisco, when Oracle Team USA came from 8-1 down to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8, was presented by guest speaker Mr Hollis.

He has been involved in the sporting challenge since 2010, and gave an insight into how collaboration between Jimmy Spithill and Sir Ben Ainslie, arguably the two greatest sailors in the event today, was at the heart of the dramatic reversal of fortune that led to Oracle winning in 2013.

With Mr Spithill now leading Oracle in pursuit of the 2017 title, and his former team-mate Mr Ainslie skippering Britain's Land Rover BAR team, Mr Hollis said: “It is going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top over the next two years.”

As a lighthearted aside, Mr Hollis told the story of the Shamrock IV, the first America's Cup boat to visit Bermuda. It was built in England to challenge the US title defender Resolute.

The Shamrock was sailing to Rhode Island when the First World War was declared. The yacht was instructed to head to the nearest British port, but its arrival days later near Bermuda had not been anticipated. Channel navigation lights around the Island had been extinguished because of the outbreak of war, and when the boat was sighted offshore the British military at Dockyard opened fire, Mr Hollis told the audience.

Fortunately, the yacht was not hit and at a later date it sailed onwards to Rhode Island. In the delayed America's Cup competition, which took place in 1920, the Shamrock lost to the US team.

“So the first America's Cup boat in Bermuda was fired upon by the military,” said Mr Hollis. However, despite such an inauspicious start to Bermuda's association with the America's Cup more than 100 years ago, he said members of Oracle Team USA and their families were today “happy to be living in Bermuda”.

The success of last month's Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Bermuda event had confirmed the ACEA had made the right choice in picking Bermuda as the venue for the 2017 finals, he said.

“We have never seen an atmosphere like it at any of the other events. The Friday night opening was a delight and Larry loved it,” he said, referring to Larry Ellison, owner of Oracle Team USA and the world's fifth wealthiest man as measured by Forbes magazine.

He added: “And the other teams are ecstatic to be here.”

Looking to bolster IB: Patrick Tannock, Abic chairman, and Sam Hollis, chief operating officer of the ACEA
The Shamrock IV was the first America's Cup boat to visit Bermuda. She was sailing from England to Rhode Island, and was fired on by the British military at Dockyard after unexpectedly arriving in Bermuda in August 1914 only days after the outbreak of the First World War. The Shamrock, a British yacht, was not hit. She later competed in the rearranged America's Cup competition of 1920

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Published November 20, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 20, 2015 at 12:17 am)

‘Friction-free’ Bermuda will help attract IB

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