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Guernsey A "Safe Haven" Amid Brexit Uncertainty

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
08 July, 2016

Guernsey's Chief Minister, Gavin St Pier, said the island is a "safe haven" for financial services. His comments follow the United Kingdom's referendum on whether it should remain within the European Union.

He said: "In what seems like an increasingly unstable world we are, and I am confident will continue to be, seen for what we are: an oasis of stability - a safe haven. We are a safe haven for financial services - in or out of the European Union - and we are a safe haven physically for those who want to relocate here - or even just holiday here in peace and quiet."

St Pier's comments were made during the course of updating members of Guernsey's Parliament, the States of Guernsey, on the progress the island had made since the recent "Brexit" vote. Following his speech, a proposition was successfully passed by Guernsey's elected representatives to enable the island's Policy and Resources Committee, which St Pier leads, to negotiate with the United Kingdom (UK) Government in order to safeguard Guernsey's interests.

In particular, the proposition authorizes the Policy and Resources Committee to negotiate with the UK to protect Guernsey's interests in any UK exit agreement and to replace Protocol 3, which currently secures the island's access to the European Union (EU) single market.

The proposition also authorizes the Policy and Resources Committee to protect the island's current constitutional relationship with the UK and to look at, and take advantage of, new trading relationship opportunities.

This is the latest of the initiatives taken by Guernsey and follows various high-level contacts with the UK, including a joint letter written by the Chief Ministers of the Crown Dependencies to the UK's Prime Minister.

Welcoming the clarity provided by St Pier's comments on the steps Guernsey had already taken, Dominic Wheatley, Guernsey Finance Chief Executive, said: "It is important that the island's finance sector continues to monitor developments closely, while at the same time recognizing that while Protocol 3 makes us part of the Customs Union and within the Single Market for the purposes of trade in goods, for most services, such as financial services, we were already treated as a third country and that position has not changed as a result of Brexit."

"As Deputy St Pier says, Guernsey should be seen as an island of stability for financial services during this period of uncertainty. We already have an established third country relationship with the EU due to the fact that over a considerable number of years Guernsey has been able to demonstrate equivalence to EU standards and there is no reason to suggest that existing market access rights will be impacted."

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