IFC Forum discusses role of global financial centres

International financial centre government officials, United Kingdom parliamentarians, G20 and OECD officials, financial services professionals and leading journalists debated the role of international financial centres in the global economy on 8 November at the IFC Forum annual conference at the British Academy in London.

Former Government Minister and UK economic commentator John Redwood opened the conference by emphasising the important economic role of financial services sectors. Mr. Redwood noted the benefits of tax competition and referred to the mutually beneficial relationship between London and small international financial centres such as the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. This message was elaborated on later in the day by conservative parliamentary colleagues Mark Field, a member of parliament, and David Maclean, also known as Lord Blencathra.

Delegates at the conference also heard from United States Counsellor for Economic Affairs in London Julie Nutter, who confirmed that Washington will continue progressing its regulatory drive while attempting to safeguard economic growth. Achim Pross, head of the International Co-operation and Tax Administration Division at the OECD, also addressed the audience in a panel discussion looking at the programme on information exchange. Issues of US compliance were addressed in the context of discussion on the recent report “Global Shell Games: Testing Money Launderers’ and Terrorist Financiers’ Access to Shell Companies” authored by Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson and Jason Sharman.

The conference closed with an informative discussion on achieving greater cooperation between IFCs, concluding that in the face of common threats, small IFCs will be better represented at the negotiating table if they work together on issues of shared interest.

Grant Stein, chairman of IFC Forum said, “It was encouraging to hear the level of political support at the conference for our constituency and it highlights the importance of enhanced cooperation, both in the private sector and intergovernmental level, in promoting the value of international financial centres.

“The forum has also been engaged in high-level dialogue with representatives from G20 governments in London, in particular the Troika – which chairs the G20 in 2012 – France, Mexico and Russia. This runs alongside our on-going programme of engagement with UK parliamentarians and senior policymakers. Through this engagement the Forum has focused on explaining the key role IFCs play in economic growth for both developed and developing economies,” he said. “We were pleased to hear from the US Economic Counsellor Julie Nutter and to have the opportunity to welcome a Russian diplomat as part of the delegates. Ensuring that the public debate around IFCs, financial intermediation and cross-border business is informed by authoritative information serves the public interest. This is why were delighted to have leading business and financial journalists Kamal Ahmed (Daily Telegraph) and Patrick Jenkins (Financial Times) speak; IFC Forum was particularly encouraged by Kamal Ahmed’s recognition of this and his desire to explore this area in the near future.”

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