Bermuda is another world and it is the place to be 

World Commerce Review interviews Ray Jones about Bermuda, an innovative, well-respected and transparent jurisdiction to base your business “Bermuda is another world” is one of the Island’s favourite folk songs. It speaks to the way of life and the history of the picturesque Atlantic island. It is also aptly describes how Bermuda has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and used it to drive economic growth. It is now common knowledge that COVID-19 has completely changed how we live, work and play. It has caused companies to rethink their business models and, often, to pivot. Due to nationwide restrictions and various quarantines, staff everywhere have taken to working remotely where possible. Many have reordered their priorities, changed their goals, spent more time with their loved ones and looked at their habits and health with renewed focus. But the pandemic has not changed the need for countries to continue to function, generate revenue and provide services. Bermuda has been a leader in the fight against COVID-19, providing an example to the world of what is possible when a government is proactive and strikes a balance between being firm and fair. Bermuda implemented such a robust testing policy that it is now the sixth-most tested country on the planet1. As a result, it has maintained a low R rate2 and controlled the spread of the virus. Bermuda has therefore become an ideal place for digital nomads, many of whom have seized the opportunity to work from the near-idyllic location, moving to Bermuda in significant numbers. Teamwork makes the dream work As a leading offshore centre for insurance, reinsurance, corporate and financial services, Bermuda is a reputable, blue chip jurisdiction with a progressive regulatory framework that works with industry to stay ahead of the curve. Bermuda is a world leader in transparency standards and strives to be the centre of legitimate global commerce. Building on the success of its forays into fintech, the Bermuda government has expanded its strategy, actively targeting economic development in various sectors. In 2020, it created the Economic Development Department (EDD) and gave it the ambitious directive to lead the jurisdiction’s post-pandemic economic recovery. The EDD has the mandate of growing the local economy, attracting more business to Bermuda, generating incremental revenue, boosting foreign direct investment, increasing the size of the workforce, creating jobs, and building an economy that would compel not just digital nomads of all nationalities, but also Bermudians living and working overseas, to come home. In addition to its legislative and business development divisions, the EDD’s concierge arm has enhanced the time-efficiency of government processes. As a result, services that are key to foreign investors - such as applications for work permits, company incorporations and tax accounts - are often expedited. Bermuda has also adopted a team approach to marketing itself as a business and visitor-friendly jurisdiction. If you’re looking for an innovative, well-respected, transparent jurisdiction with a cooperative government and regulators who “get it” and can react quickly to your needs and to changes in the global landscape, Bermuda is the destination for you and your business. Several entities cooperate to attract companies and leisure travellers to the Island. In addition to the EDD, the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) all play key roles in the effort. The BTA promotes the country to the world while the BDA attracts businesses that are looking for a sophisticated, progressive, safe and well-regulated country in which to base their operations. The BMA is one of the most highly regarded regulators in the world but also one of the most progressive, as it often meets with clients to provide feedback during the license application process. The BEDC supports local entrepreneurs, teaching homegrown innovators how to successfully build and launch their businesses and creating conditions for them to be sustainable in the long run. Recognising that small businesses, new businesses and entrepreneurs are significant job creators, the BEDC has the full support of the government in creating opportunities for them. World Commerce Review interviews Ray Jones, Director of Bermuda’s Department of Economic Development. What are your top-most priorities as you take on the leadership of the Department of Economic Development? The EDD’s mission is simple: “to advance the sustainable growth, development and diversification of Bermuda’s economy.” My team and I are therefore ready to take on the challenge, keeping our eyes on the prize: the dual priority of job creation and revenue generation. In more practical terms, the EDD is working on achieving the Island’s economic development and diversification goals by prioritising the competitiveness of the Island globally and by ensuring its attractiveness internationally as the place to move to individually and organisationally. In relation to the pandemic, as the world turns the proverbial corner, governments worldwide will be able to focus their attention to local and international post-COVID recovery. In Bermuda, we will do that by making sure the jurisdiction continues to build on its solid foundation with respect to innovation, the tech economy, and unrelenting support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Economic diversification is a key element of economic development. How is Bermuda advancing in that area? If anyone did not know this before, the pandemic has proven to all that a lack of economic diversification can fast cause heightened vulnerability to environmental shocks, which would jeopardise a jurisdiction’s long-term economic growth and sustainability. In Bermuda, we are building on a long history of innovation and adaptation to internal and external factors and taking a wider perspective when it comes to economic diversification. Not only is the EDD considering shifts towards more varied domestic production, we are also deliberately placing self-sufficiency and self-sustaining growth as the true north for our compass. This is leading us to explore diversification in many forms: (1) encouraging the creation, development, trade, and export of new goods and services, (2) shifting/using existing goods and services to new markets, and (3) upgrading existing goods and services in innovative ways. What is Bermuda’s strategy in those areas? Bermuda has been successful in defining its strengths and opportunities and appreciates, as economies worldwide have, that it must now, and incrementally, move away from merely making more of the same thing. Rather, the Government is working with the private sector to identify niche areas where it can capitalise on previous successes as it builds new sectors. It is also working closely with foreign investors that recognise the Island’s strong suits and wish to partner in order to develop them further. What is drawing foreign investors to partner with Bermuda? Bermuda is not just a beautiful Island. It also wants to be the home of innovation, the Silicon Valley of the Atlantic Ocean, the Davos of the deep blue sea. As of 2020, digital nomads are taking advantage of the jurisdiction’s one-year residency visa, which presents significantly favourable terms and renewal options. Companies are also domiciling and building a footprint of essence in the jurisdiction and benefiting from several arms of the local economy that strive to make their transition on-Island seamless and advantageous. Corporate service providers are giving foreign investors timely and relevant strategic and tactical advice, regulators are helping clients along the way, and the Government is ensuring that on-coming organisations have a technology and start-up friendly government that is befitting their ambitions while remaining in line with best-in-class international standards of fiscal transparency.
If you’re looking for an innovative, well-respected, transparent jurisdiction with a cooperative government and regulators who “get it” and can react quickly to your needs and to changes in the global landscape, Bermuda is the destination for you and your business