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Impact and opportunities of Brexit discussed at GTA event

The effect of Brexit on the future of the offshore economy and the potential repercussions for the local finance industry were discussed by one of the UK’s leading economists, Dr Savvas Savouri, at The GTA University Centre’s (GTA) ‘The Future of Offshore in a Post-Brexit Economy’ event on 17 January.

Three of Guernsey’s leading business voices – Christopher Anderson, Partner at law firm Carey Olsen; Dominic Wheatley, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance; and Deputy Gavin St Pier, President of the Policy and Resources Committee, States of Guernsey – discussed a variety of topics surrounding Brexit with Dr Savouri during an interactive panel session.

Guernsey’s relationship with the UK and the EU, the effect of Brexit on the pound, Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the possibility of MPs going back on the referendum result were deliberated. The panel also took questions from the audience.

Dr Savouri noted that a number of outcomes were still possible for Brexit including a no-deal with the European Union, a ‘peaceful’ deal or no Brexit at all but that the most likely outcome will be an 11th hour deal.

“A deal-less Brexit could prove a welcome boost to Guernsey rather than the threat many anticipate since political turmoil in the UK could trigger an evacuation of British nationals to Guernsey’s shores or certainly a sharp rise in numbers trying to relocate, creating opportunities for the island and its business community,” said Dr Savouri.

Deputy St Pier noted that the challenge has always been the same and it’s important that Guernsey’s interests aren’t lost in the melee but he was content with the work the island has been doing to prepare: “We have been working closely with the UK and the other Crown Dependencies since 2016 to ensure that the island’s interests are taken into account in the UK’s EU exit negotiations,” he said.
“The UK Government has committed to negotiating a future economic partnership for the Crown Dependencies with the EU that is proportionate to our economic needs, that respects our autonomy and constitutional relationship with the UK. We have also been preparing for all eventualities in relation to Brexit, including a no-deal scenario and we are liaising closely with the UK Government to ensure the Bailiwick’s preparations are aligned wherever possible.”

Mr Wheatley observed that Guernsey’s economy has continued to do very well throughout the Brexit process: “There may be some changes in our relationship with the UK but Guernsey has always been good at reinventing itself and adapting to change.

“Much of our work over the past two years has been focused on ensuring that financial services in Guernsey is well-positioned for the future once Britain leaves the EU,” he said.
Mr Anderson noted that Guernsey has an advantage in that the island has established relationships with the EU and this is why he thinks the UK has shown such an interest in the Crown Dependencies.

“Times of great change such as Brexit lead to uncertainty and can be challenging. However, they also present opportunities,” he said.

“For Guernsey’s financial services sector the opportunity lies in our already established ‘third-country’ relationship with the EU, the continued certainty that we will offer our clients during this period of momentous change and the hope that we will enjoy an even closer relationship with the UK post-Brexit.”