Jamaica- A thrust towards global financial services

Jamaica has been working assiduously in the past few years to establish itself as an international financial and business services centre. Efforts have included creating a robust and sophisticated legislative framework, formulating a competitive tax regime, and taking steps to ensure that the domestic market, relevant institutions and agencies are fully prepared to ensure the centre operates efficiently and takes advantage of the ensuing opportunities.

The Jamaica International Financial Services Authority (JIFSA), with a mandate to market and promote Jamaica as an international financial and business services jurisdiction, has been spearheading Jamaica’s thrust and is focused on ensuring that the country’s industry is developed on par with established centres and international regulations and standards globally.

An international financial and business services centre typically caters to investors outside the jurisdiction of their domestic economy, dealing with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.

Services provided by such centres include:

– Fund-raising for individuals, corporations and governments;
– Asset management and global portfolio diversification;
– Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization;
– Global and regional corporate treasury management operations;
– Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance; and
– Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.

International financial and business services currently contribute to a major global industry, which the McKinsey Global Institute in 2011 estimated generated revenues of roughly $11 trillion. International financial services have been indispensable in the development of the economies of prominent business jurisdictions.

Jamaica’s impending entry into this market is based on the premise that the country possesses all the significant features necessary for the development of an international financial and business services centre:

– Sustainable local economy
– Stable political environment
– Developed infrastructure
– Strategic location
– Good quality of life

The country’s comparative advantage is also supported by its vast human and physical resources and global network of Diaspora, as well as several other unique attributes. Locally, international financial and business services are being aligned with the focus on a logistics centred economy.

Opportunities for Investment

Jamaica’s international financial services centre will create opportunities for international investors to incorporate and register sophisticated corporate vehicles and transact business on a global scale, utilizing a competitive tax regime. The industry will be facilitated by a modern legislative framework, supported by a robust financial regulatory regime. The regime will facilitate a wide variety of investment opportunities, including the incorporation and the registration of business entities to:-

1. Hold and manage global assets;
2. Act as international corporate headquarters for global operations;
3. Serve as investment vehicles;
4. Engage in complex international financial transactions; and
5. Manage the wealth of high net-worth individuals.

The Industry will be supported by local Professional Services providers, which include:

– Attorneys
– Accountants
– Banks
– Business/IT Consultants
– Corporate and Trust service providers

Large corporations and logistics service providers will be encouraged to set up operations or headquarters utilizing the diverse financial products that the international financial and business services centre will offer.

The Industry also creates indirect opportunities for the following sectors in Jamaica:

– Real Estate
– Information and Communications Technology
– Hospitality
– Education
– Healthcare

The establishment of international financial and business services will have a ripple effect throughout the economy. Growth in the industry will result in significant increases in employment, which will create a multiplier effect and stimulate a need for new small and medium size businesses. The anticipation/expectation is that no sector or sub-sector will remain untouched from the ecosystem supported by international financial and business services.

Legislation passed

In order to establish the legal and regulatory framework for the establishment of a modernized industry we have been working on passing the following:
– Partnership (General) Act
– Partnership (Limited) Act
– International Corporate and Trust Services Providers Act

Legislation to be passed

We are working actively to pass the following draft Bills in short order:
– International Business Companies Bill
– The Trust Bill
– Limited Liability Companies Bill
– Segregated Account Companies Bill

Plans to expand the sector

Much of the success of the industry is hinged on the establishment of an internationally competitive legal and regulatory framework. Consequently, this list of bills is not exhaustive. It serves as a base to establish the industry at its inception. The nature of the industry is a dynamic one; we envision growing and changing as needed to meet the needs of the global market. Innovative products and services will be required on an ongoing basis which will require supporting legislation.

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Jamaica International Financial Services Authority - Contributor
The Jamaica International Financial Services Authority (JIFSA) is a statutory body- established in 2011- with its primary role to market and promote Jamaica as a jurisdiction for international financial and business services. In addition, the agency seeks to create and develop the legal framework to establish and support entities in Jamaica to provide financial and business services to the global market and own assets in other jurisdictions.

The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of JAMPRO

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