When talking about the economic substance of an offshore jurisdiction, I believe this is an area where the Cayman Islands particularly excels. Unfortunately, the perception of many still remains that an offshore jurisdiction is purely a tax haven rather than what they actually are, a place that facilitates sensible tax planning within the laws of the land.
While the Cayman Islands leads the way in many facets of offshore financial services globally, the substance to our economy lies in the fact that it is diverse and has many successful pillars. This is why individuals and companies choose to relocate here, making these islands so much more than just an offshore financial services jurisdiction.
There are multiple pillars that help support our economy. While the financial services industry contributes the most to our GDP, tourism, real estate, construction, development and medical tourism all also play an important part in diversifying our economic base. Part of the draw of this location has been powered by the internet, giving people the ability to do business from anywhere in the world and, as such, many different individuals and companies have, and will, take advantage of this, with the lucky few who are able to do so taking up residence here.
I say the “lucky few” because the islands do have strict immigration policies to which prospective residents must adhere. There is only so much physical space available and a quick monitor of the real estate industry will reveal that we are definitely in a state of demand rather than supply at the moment.
Many people who decide to relocate to Cayman do so because of the extraordinarily great lifestyle it offers residents. Cayman is a place where our children can grow up in harmony in a healthy environment that is conducive to outdoor activities and where they can engage with their surroundings. As such, those looking to relocate here and take advantage of this incredible environment ought to do so sooner rather than later.
Investment indicative of substance
One only has to look at the sheer size of investment currently being made into Cayman’s infrastructure at the moment, such as the expansion of the Owen Roberts International Airport, the improvement to our road networks, and the proposed new dock in George Town, all multi-million-dollar projects to help grow our economy. These projects offer tangible substance where some jurisdictions might not have the same level of investment to demonstrate their own claims of substance.
Other indications that our economy is growing and maturing include the way we are currently implementing first-world solutions to issues such as waste management and energy issues, for example, by creating the solar farm in Bodden Town and implementing other renewable energy projects. As a nation, we have become conscious of the environment and we want to protect what we have and what we leave behind for our children.
Real estate industry’s contribution
The fact that so many businesses and individuals over the years have chosen to relocate to Cayman has undoubtedly made a positive impact on our real estate industry. But it should be noted that this is not the only reason why we see such a buoyant market in the Cayman Islands. Vacationers are often drawn back here to relocate permanently or semi permanently, plus the local population also inputs tremendously into our industry. As a result, the active real estate market adds substance to our economy, which in turn is backed up by the many different arms to the economy, which equals depth and breadth that is unmatched by most other offshore jurisdictions.
Cayman is currently in an exceptionally strong position, with good economic growth, good population growth, financial stability and political stability. It has a great deal going for it as a country. The fact that Cayman is so successful is in itself the momentum to drive even more economic activity. The challenge for the Islands now is to ensure that the economic growth is sustainably managed to the point that the Cayman people want, to ensure that it reaches and does not surpass the levels that offer the right balance of economic success while maintaining this beautiful environment that we call home.