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BVI Mounts Successful Chinese Promotional Tour

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

18 November 2005

BVI officials have reported 'constructive' talks with Chinese counterparts in Beijing last week, followed by successful roadshows in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with business registration, investment funds, captive insurance and trusts all very much on the agenda.

The visits should see increased business opportunities for the British Virgin Islands’ private sector, said BVI International Finance Centre (IFC) Executive Director Mrs Lorna Smith after the success of the two road shows held by the IFC. The occasion marked the first time that an international financial centre held such an event in mainland China.

Following constructive talks in Beijing with Chinese Government officials, whose reception and hospitality were outstanding, the BVI delegation moved to promote the territory’s financial services offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong. At both events, the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Ronnie W. Skelton, spoke of the strong relationship which exists between the BVI Government and the private sector which helps to ensure that the BVI’s entrepreneurial business community thrives within an effective regulatory regime.

The territory’s private sector was well represented at both events with some 25 professionals from BVI-based firms present. Simon Wang of Equity Trust, who delivered the keynote speech at both roadshows, illustrated the strong economic ties that exist between China and the BVI, and the potential for further collaboration and development. Other presenters in the main session included Meade Malone of MWM Financial Services, Jack Husbands and Christopher McKenzie of Walkers, Craig Murphy of Equity Trust, Frances Woo of Appleby Spurling Hunter, Ray Wearmouth of Harneys, Paul Webster QC of O’Neal Webster, and Barry Mitchell of Maples and Calder.

The breakout seminars and panel discussions which immediately followed the main session allowed delegates to focus on their particular areas of interest including corporate developments and insolvency, trusts, and investment business, respectively. In these sessions additional private sector expertise and support was provided by Rebecca Chow of Trident Trust, Anthony Lynton of Maples and Calder as well as Piers Alexander and Christopher Bickley of Conyers Dill & Pearman.

Mr Skelton said: “The IFC has proved yet again how effective it is in supporting the private sector in creating new business opportunities and strengthening existing ones. The BVI Government is committed to continuing this support, as only by taking advantage of such business opportunities will our financial services sector continue to develop and prosper. The growth of this sector will also ensure that we can continue to create economic and employment opportunities for the people of the BVI at all levels.”

Mrs Lorna Smith said: “This was the first time we have held such a promotional event in Shanghai, and we understood that for many who attended it was the first direct contact they had had with us as a Government and, indeed, with many of those representing our private sector. We were very pleased with the attendance of over 100 delegates at the Shanghai event, and we hope that we can really build on the relationships that began there.”

Mrs Smith added: “As far as the roadshow in Hong Kong is concerned, we place a very high value on our long-standing relationships with both the public and private sectors there, and the main purpose of the event was to reinforce our ties with the senior practitioners in the jurisdiction. I am delighted that this showed in the quality of the professionals who attended, comprising almost 200 executives and senior representatives from global law firms, international banking groups, and well-known corporate & trust services providers, among others. Overall, we feel very positive and confident coming out of this visit to Asia having accomplished our main goals, and in some ways having even exceeded our expectations.”

The BVI IFC has played a pivotal role in the promotion and marketing of the BVI as a leading financial centre. Established in 2002 as part of the Government’s growing commitment to the financial services industry, the aim of the IFC is to give a voice to the BVIs financial sector. The IFC is committed to ensuring that the BVI retains the unique balance it has created in having a sound regulatory framework, an entrepreneurial business community and a government that is committed to developing innovative legislation.

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