global sustainable development

Bermuda: Where business blooms

An interview with David Burt, JP MP, Premier of Bermuda and Minister of Finance

When it comes to business and finance, Bermuda is a world-leader in so many areas. It’s where innovative risk and insurance, asset management, high-net-worth services, technology, and infrastructure ideas are brought to market.” The jurisdiction is the best place to domicile new international businesses, tech companies and modern infrastructure projects.

Climate Change Review spoke to David Burt, JP MP, Premier of Bermuda and Minister of Finance who explained how this sophisticated international business centre not only offers world respected regulation, speed to market, and top talent across industry sectors, but is also embracing a blue economy to safeguard its environmental assets.

Climate Change Review: Please highlight some of the ways the Government of Bermuda is helping attract foreign direct investment and support Bermuda’s international business sector?

David Burt: Since the pandemic, the Government of Bermuda has been focused on executing our economic recovery plan. Part of the execution of an economic recovery plan certainly relies on foreign direct investment. Bermuda is global leader in insurance and reinsurance and we’ve seen a significant influx of capital and new company formation in the wake of the pandemic. That is supported by our excellent regulatory environment, which we’ve spent years in building and making sure that global regulators are confident that Bermuda-regulated companies are the global standard in the world.

In addition, we have implemented many new initiatives such as the Work from Bermuda programme and the Economic Investment Certificate programme.

“What sets Bermuda apart is its regulatory excellence”

David Burt, JP MP, Premier of Bermuda

CCR: What sets Bermuda apart from the competition, making it an essential investment destination for some many global businesses?

DB: What sets Bermuda apart is its regulatory excellence. Oncoming investors are always impressed that they are able to meet, face to face, with Bermuda’s regulators and with government officials. This allows them to hear directly about the jurisdiction’s plans and services, and about how the government can assist them in setting up their business.

This is what sets Bermuda apart. It has been honed over time with respect to the insurance industry and is now being applied to other areas of the financial services industry. We are seeing success with that.

CCR: Does Bermuda have a citizenship programme or something similar? Tell us a little more about Bermuda’s Economic Investment Certificate.

DB: While Bermuda does not have a citizenship-by-investment programme per se, we have recently rolled out a new Economic Investment Certificate programme.

An Economic Investment Certificate is for persons who may want to invest in Bermuda and have long-term residency on the island. This allows such persons to make a $2.5m investment whether it be in real estate, government bonds, or charitable endeavours within the local third sector, or in starting up a new business, or in any other way that the government may deem beneficial to the Bermuda ecosystem at the time.

Those persons are allowed to live in Bermuda to work in their own businesses. After a five-year period, they’re able to apply for a Permanent Residency Certificate which gives them the ability to reside on the island over the long term.

Because of Bermuda’s unique status as an Overseas Territory, after five years, these people are allowed to apply for a British Overseas Territories Citizenship, which is granted by the UK Government. We’ve seen this work particularly well: over $100m in investment has already come in through this programme. This is a programme of which we’re particularly proud, and which we will continue to grow.

CCR: What is Bermuda doing as part of its plans for the blue economy? Can you tell us a bit about Bermuda’s ocean prosperity work?

DB: We’re very proud for our ocean prosperity work. Bermuda has always been a leader when it comes to preserving the environment: our first environmental protection legislation dates back to the 1600s, aiming to protect sea turtles. We know conservation – it’s in our DNA.

We’ve had to make sure that we keep the delicate balance of conservation over time. What we have not done as well is to use our oceans to reap economic benefit. Therefore, part of Bermuda’s ocean prosperity is to achieve the right balance between obtaining additional investment, having sustainable fisheries, and developing renewable energies, while at the same time protecting our oceans for the long run as we reach for continuous sustainable development.

In that regard, the Cabinet has just approved a Draft Plan that is now out to public consultation and that seeks investment into our blue economy: for fishing, for offshore energy, and for what is necessary to ensure that our waters work for us as a country. We are also working to harness sea-wave energy in order to generate 10% of the island’s total energy needs. In addition, our Marine Spatial Plan lays out how Bermuda can manage its waters to make sure they’re sustainable over time.

Investments in this area would help us balance our ESG Balance Sheet and meet out targets considering climate change, and for that, Bermuda is the ideal space. We’re looking at this as a long-term plan to expand the island’s blue economy, taking advantage of its Exclusive Economic Zone which surrounds our very remote island.

CCR: Please expand on Bermuda’s goal to become the world’s climate risk finance capital, and how this ties into dealing with the reality of climate change.

DB: Bermuda is the world’s risk capital already. You would be hard pressed to find a jurisdiction like Bermuda, one of only two in the world that have full regulatory equivalence with both the European Union and the United States. That is something that has served our insurance industry well.

With Bermuda being the world’s largest insurance market and the world’s risk capital, we have built up years and years of modelling weather trends and catastrophe trends around the world. Climate change is causing extreme weather events; we know that we have the ability to be the best predictors of what may happen in the future if climate change does continue.

So, when we talk about the world’s risk capital and expand that into climate change is a reality, there’s going to be a need to finance resilience and build resilience in the communities around the world that are most impacted by climate change. Bermuda is an excellent place to pull capital and to deploy it in those investments. We are ideally positioned not just with respect to that deployment, but also with respect to our expertise in identifying the types of investment that are necessary to reduce the impact of extreme weather on communities around the world.

Over its history, Bermuda has paid out billions of dollars to help communities around the world recover from extreme events. We know how this works and we are ideally positioned to ensure that we can bring those investments to market to help build resilience in communities but also make sure that in the long run, the impact of extreme climate events that we’re seeing more often is reduced in communities around the world.

CCR: What is your key takeaway from our readers?

DB: If you are a well-regulated company wanting to have access to a world-class financial regulator and to a government that is dedicated to full economic growth, there is no better country to consider than Bermuda. That is our take on the Bermuda Triangle: how the government, industry, and the regulator work together to continue to upgrade our laws and our regulations, and to ensure that Bermuda remains relevant as the jurisdiction of choice for international business.

Bermuda has a long track record of success in building international companies that have a global impact: they are headquartered, with substance, here on the island.

International business in Bermuda runs the full gamut: insurance, international aviation, international shipping, high net-worth management, emerging tech, as well as financial including digital assets and fintech. Bermuda is now an established leader in those spaces. There are therefore several sectors that we continue to modernise, building on the solid foundation we’ve developed over time.

Bermuda is also an excellent place to raise capital, but a terrible place to hide capital. We pride ourselves in being compliant with international financial regulations: Bermuda earned the top score on the planet when it came to technical compliance with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. That means that people can have confidence when investing in Bermuda as a jurisdiction that has political stability, a well-functioning public service, and an excellent support system for businesses that wish to set up.

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