Burt meets with key US figures
The Premier discussed Bermuda’s efforts to build its relationship with the United States when he met members of Congress in Washington, yesterday.
David Burt said the island’s co-operation with the US on tax transparency and its assistance in helping with disaster recovery came up in conversations.
Mr Burt said the series of meetings was “mainly a part of our continued engagement with members of Congress to make sure that they understand the business of Bermuda”.
Mr Burt added he was accompanied by John Huff, the president and chief executive of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, and Abir members.
He said: “We spoke about the matters that are important for Bermuda’s financial services industry.”
One of his meetings was with Democratic congressman Richard Neal, who waged a campaign against the “Bermuda loophole”, which he claimed helped American companies to dodge US taxes.
Since January, he has been the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the chief tax-writing committee of the US House of Representatives. The representative for Massachusetts’ 1st congressional district and former mayor of Springfield, the congressman made headlines this week when he exercised his constitutional right, as committee chairman, to requisition President Donald Trump’s tax records from the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr Burt, who had a joint meeting with Mr Neal and party colleague Congressman G.K. Butterfield, said yesterday the meeting went well.
He said: “I’m not going to discuss the contents of individual meetings, but I would say overall the meeting went well.
“The opportunity to speak to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is always a great thing.
“We had a good discussion over Bermuda and the contributions it makes to the US economy, especially in times of natural disaster.”
Mr Neal said in a TV advert in 2012: “There are American companies that have chosen to move to countries like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands for the purpose of sophisticated tax avoidance.
“All you have to do is set up a post office box. I filed legislation to address the issue and we won.”
Mr Burt said stricter rules on economic substance, the physical presence of companies doing business in Bermuda, was “not much of a talking point”.
He added: “It was not raised by any member in any meeting. However, I did update chairman Neal on Bermuda’s Econonomic Substance regime in light of the forthcoming rules from the OECD.”
Mr Burt also met Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay, the chairman of the Financial Services Sub-committee on Insurance, to “reinforce that Bermuda will continue to assist communities in the United States to rebuild after natural disasters and is happy to work with the new Congress to expand coverage”.
The Premier also had talks with Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, a Democrat and the chairman of the Financial Services Sub-committee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy to “discuss the impact of derisking on Bermuda”.
He met Congressman George Holding a Republican from North Carolina, to “discuss ways that the Bermuda insurance market assists disaster recovery efforts in the United States”.
Mr Burt said the changes in the political landscape since the 2018 mid-term elections, which saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans increase their majority in the Senate, had not affected Bermuda’s relationship with Washington.
He said: “We meet with the Democrats and the Republicans.
We don’t limit ourselves to any particular party or caucus because for Bermuda it is necessary to build relationships on both sides of the aisle.”
Mr Burt added that he hoped Bermuda would be taken off a European Union blacklist of noncooperative tax jurisdictions.
He said: “We have every expectation that we will be removed from the list at the earliest opportunity.”
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