Adelegation from Guernsey timed its China visit to perfection, just as a free trade zone was launched in Shanghai, followed by the recent plenum of the Communist Party in Beijing.
“It was very good timing,” said Fiona Le Poidevin, chief executive of Guernsey Finance, the promotional agency for the island’s finance industry. She told China Business Law Journal that the delegation held high-level talks with officials and regulators about the implications of the two events.
Le Poidevin highlighted a meeting in Shanghai with Tu Guangshao, the vice mayor of the city. “We particularly discussed with him the Shanghai pilot free trade zone and the opportunities that might bring generally for Chinese businesses, but also for Guernsey and Guernsey businesses setting up in China,” she said. “It’s a very exciting time because it demonstrates that China is opening up to business.”
Le Poidevin said the delegation was particularly interested in how the free trade zone would influence financial services in China. “We have some specialised legislation in certain areas – for example, we regulate trust providers, and we have captive insurance legislation,” she said. “[We will] look at how regulations will work within the free trade zone, and whether Guernsey can assist the Chinese in formulating those regulations.”
Another milestone of the trip was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) – the island’s local financial services regulator – and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).
“That’s a really important step forward because, as we understand, it’s also going to be the first step for allowing Guernsey funds to be able to apply for QFII [qualified foreign institutional investors] status,” she said.
The island has been boosting its fund services. GFSC approved 33 new investment funds in the third quarter of 2013, according to figures released by the commission.
The Guernsey delegation comprised Peter Harwood, the island’s chief minister, Kevin Stewart, Guernsey’s commerce and employment minister, and William Mason, the director general of GFSC.
Guernsey has also been making efforts on its co-operation with the US. The island recently signed a Model I intergovernmental agreement with the US government regarding the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.