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Channel Islands Collaboration Taking Shape

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

18 January 2013


In a prepared address to Jersey's Chamber of Commerce, Guernsey Chief Minister, Peter Harwood joined his Jersey counterpart Ian Gorst in highlighting the importance of stronger relations between the two Channel Islands, to identify potential spending efficiencies through joint initiatives, and to support the growth of the islands' financial services industries.

Harwood stated: "The past 20 years have seen the pace of pan-Channel Island working in the private sector grow significantly, particularly in finance houses, accountancy, law, information technology, and public relations and marketing. The private sector is creating an expectancy of greater cooperation within the public sector."

"Since being elected as Chief Minister last May, the topic of mutual co-operation between the Channel Islands has been a regular and recurring theme. Within the first month of my election Ian and I met and agreed to progress the issue of Channel Islands co-operation as a joint initiative. It has always been very clear to me that Guernsey and Jersey do have shared interests, and that acting together would undoubtedly help us to make a stronger case for ourselves."

"In the area of external relations, particularly with the European Union, there is a clear political benefit in standing together to make our case. That is why the Channel Islands Brussels Office was set up to protect and promote our joint interests in Europe - to ensure that we have access to the single market and that we maintain our competitiveness. In September representatives of both Islands met the Irish government together, to discuss how we could better engage with their Presidency of the European Union, which began last week."

He highlighted that as recently as December, the two islands joined forces to make themselves heard on a new Communication from the European Commission "Fighting Tax Fraud and Tax Evasion," which proposes minimum standards for third country good governance in tax matters.

"The islands are naturally a geographical package," he continued. "We must recognise that we share that common brand and that we need to work jointly to protect that brand."

Highlighting the substantial progress made by both islands, in particular towards adopting best standards on tax transparency, Harwood underscored that: "There is, however, no room for complacency. We face many challenges - from the UK, from Brussels, from Washington; from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the implied threat from the UK as it takes on the chairmanship of the G8. We are much more likely to meet these challenges if we stand together."

He said that alongside discussions to identify cost savings, the islands should increasingly work together on economic development, in recognition that although Jersey and Guernsey are competitors, they share common interests and goals.

"In Guernsey we have recently launched a consultation on our economic development strategy. We are doing further work on how we best support and enable our growing and thriving digital sector; on how we strengthen our skills strategy and how we maximize the number of those on our Island who are economically active; and around stronger co-ordination of enterprise and business development support."

"We are looking at how we might more effectively promote ourselves to the outside world, and how we use that to help diversify our key trading markets towards emerging economies, in finance and beyond. Greater economic co-operation with Jersey is one part of delivering this."

"Let us not deceive ourselves - there will be many occasions of tension between our jurisdictions and there will always be elements of competition between the two Bailiwicks, but let us not lose sight of the many opportunities that strength through mutual cooperation can deliver."

TAGS: tax | business | European Commission | interest | public sector | law | financial services | international financial centres (IFC) | Guernsey | Jersey | offshore | standards | services | Europe

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