Tribune 242 | Monday, October 22, 2012
Minister targeting top Swiss banks’ ’new business units’
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Minister of Financial Services is this week aiming to encourage three of the largest Swiss private banks to domicile “new business units” in the Bahamas, boosting employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the sector.
Speaking to Tribune Business before his departure on a two-leg trip to Europe, Ryan Pinder added that subsequent to a meeting of the EU-CARIFORUM Ministerial Council that oversees the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), he aimed to announce a major development that would “really put the Bahamas on the map” within the Caribbean.
While declining to give details of this ‘major announcement’, Mr Pinder also confirmed that the Bahamas’ EPA services and investment offer would receive final sign-off at the Ministerial Council meeting - the final step to its formal incorporation into the agreement with the European Union (EU).
And, looking further ahead, Mr Pinder said the first week in December had been earmarked as Arbitration Week - an event the Government and private sector will be using to drive the establishment of an Arbitration Centre in the Bahamas.
With Switzerland the first stop on Mr Pinder’s European journey this week, he told Tribune Business: “I look to be able to expand significantly the scope of operations of some of the largest international banks in this jurisdiction.
“I’m meeting with the highest level executives at three major banks with the goal of bringing new business units of their operations here. That goes to increased employment opportunities for Bahamians and increased entrepreneurship for Bahamians in the sector.”
While acknowledging that the sign-off of the Bahamas’ EPA services and investments offer was “a formality”, given that it had been approved at the recent technical meeting in Trinidad, Mr Pinder added that it was “important to get the co-operation” of the Bahamas’ regional counterparts.
A CARIFORUM ministerial meeting was also scheduled after the EU one, and the minister added: “It’s significant to complete the process, but we’re looking to embrace the process and being part of the region, rather than sitting on the sidelines. It’s important to be a leader in the region and have the co-operation of others.
“We hope to have a big announcement thereafter, other than the services and investments schedule, that really puts the Bahamas on the map with another area of my portfolio. It’ll be a notable announcement for the Bahamas in the international and regional arena.”
Mr Pinder added that the first week in December would be used “to launch the concept and way forward” for establishing the Bahamas as an Arbitration Centre, with a series of announcements set to be made during the November run-up.
“That activity will be framing a map, the way forward, for us to have a credible and reputable Arbitration Centre, and really get recognition and support from the private sector,” he told Tribune Business.
“It’s an involved process to be in a dominant position in arbitration in the region and internationally, and we know it will take a few years to develop, but are committed to getting it done - and getting it done in a disciplined fashion.”