BVI remains top Offshore Jurisdiction
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) remains the top offshore jurisdiction in the world, according to the 2017 edition of the Vistra 2020 Report, launched in Hong Kong and Singapore last week. The report ranked the United Kingdom the number one jurisdiction (onshore), followed by Hong Kong (midshore), the BVI (offshore) and the United States (onshore). “The BVI is ‘an embedded brand’ and still the go-to for most structuring conduits,” the report outlined. Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the report think that by 2020 technology will disrupt the industry with innovation that will lower costs and fundamentally change business models. For example, technology will help customers open BVI bank accounts who currently cannot do so at banks where they do business. The difficulty opening and maintaining a bank account was the key business constraint in Asia, according to the report. Elise Donovan, director, BVI House Asia, said: “The newly licensed Bank of Asia, the first online, cloud-based bank, will launch later this year. It is poised to drive banking costs lower while increasing the level of convenience and efficiency afforded to customers opening BVI accounts.” Globalisation from China into the West is one of the big trends that is going to dominate the economic view of the world over the next few decades, according to the report. “The BVI remains a leader in corporate structuring for Chinese outbound investment across a range of sectors,” Donovan said. “The increase in Chinese outbound investment bodes well for the BVI to continue as a leader in this area.” The BVI assists clients in structuring Chinese outbound investment in energy, infrastructure, technology and agriculture, among other sectors. The BVI’s attributes – a legal system based on English common law, internationally compliant regulations and tax neutrality – make it an especially attractive jurisdiction to channel outbound Chinese investment along the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and to facilitate China’s Go Global strategy. “Our industry bolsters the global economy; it facilitates exchanges, prevents extra layers of taxation, presents neutral venues, and protects investors with robust legal systems,” the report concluded.