British leading finance figures from the City of London met on Monday at the historic Drapers Hall to hear Chief Minister Peter Caruana’s message who said Gibraltar was fully committed and on time to meet the criteria being sent by G20 countries for offshore centres to continue in business centred on financial issues related to offshore centres and meeting the G20 criteria.
It is vital that we do not allow the reforms ...to undermine the sovereignty of countries to set their own tax systems and tax levels, he said. People in distant shores should not be allowed to undermine the City of London or other British and non-British finance centres. But Gibraltar, he reassured, will stay in the mainstream of international consensus.
According to the Gibraltar Chronicle the message was focused on quality and responsible regulation, driving the message that whilst some of the demands being made of centres by the G20 may seem arbitrary, Gibraltar is set on meeting the standards that are set.
Caruana told those gathered that 10 Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) have already been signed, many more initialled, and that by mid November this would exceed the required 12.
But he also highlighted that Gibraltar had made a point of going for quality agreements so that when it produced its 12 plus TIEAs their quality would not be doubted by international bodies such as the OECD. Gibraltar is eager to get off the OECD's grey list at a time when major companies do not want to put their heads above the parapet in so far as reputation and conduct of business goes.
Gibraltar's finance centre is not based on a search for quantitative growth. Like other areas of our economy it is geared to the establishment of quality business in Gibraltar, said Caruana.
The finance centre is currently made up of 18 banks, over 100 insurance companies, 28 insurance intermediaries and managers, 37 investment firms, 100 funds, 10 fund managers and 70 trust and company managers.
Mr Caruana said Gibraltar seeks niches where it can support large finance centres and large multinational global services providers. He gave the example that Gibraltar now handles 8% of all of the UK's motor insurance.
The qualities that make Gibraltar attractive ranged, he explained from the quality of professionals and an educated population to political stability as well as pass-porting into Europe.
The finance centre, according to Caruana, accounts for 23% of GDP and had helped sustain the economy even in a difficult global economic time. GDP had grown 9% in 2008 and was expected to grow 6% this year.