At BDA forum, Bloomberg warns against isolationism

At BDA forum, Bloomberg warns against isolationism

Speaking at the Bermuda Business Development Agency’s New York Forum on Thursday, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg warned against the rising tide of anti-globalisation for business around the globe.

“Around the world, people are against the establishment -- that means Brexit, that means Trump, that means certain parties getting elected,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous time, pulling things back."

Global trade has reduced worldwide poverty by half over the last two decades, with most of the benefits going to the developing world, Bloomberg noted. “Today, we are going in a different direction, and I don’t know what will happen between now and the next US election but it’s ridiculous to think that we won’t have a functioning NAFTA treaty,” he added. “We are tied together, and we will be more tied together, which makes this anti-globalisation even more nonsensical.”

Bloomberg was featured on a panel moderated by AIG CEO Brian Duperreault that also featured Bermuda Premier David Burt as a panelist.

Bloomberg stressed that globalisation is even more important for a jurisdiction such as Bermuda, which depends on outside foreign investment. “Bermuda’s job more than anything is to keep reminding its citizens that it is a great country and that they should be proud, but they do depend on the outside world much more than America depends on outside forces, for example."

The island’s reputation as a stable place to do business recently came under fire following its designation as a non-cooperative jurisdiction by the EU. During the panel, Burt spoke out against the European Union’s decision and the island’s response to the designation.

“The European Union ministers of finance’s decision to add Bermuda to their list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, for a country that prides itself for its level of cooperation with international standards and tax transparency, is certainly something that is unwanted,” Burt said.  

Both Bloomberg and Duperreault, a native Bermudian, were supportive of Bermuda’s assertions that all of its business is conducted in an above-board manner.

“The industry self-polices when it comes to taxes, we don’t want those who do things wrong show up in Bermuda and ruin our reputation,” said Duperreault.

“If interest rates or taxes are the determining factors in where you locate, you don’t have a business,” Bloomberg said. “You have to go where your labour force is, and where you can reach your customers."

“I think Bermuda has a much better hand to play compared to other island jurisdictions,” Bloomberg added.

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