I have been travelling to South Africa from the Isle of Man on business for over 20 years and I always get a sense of excitement and anticipation of how I will find the mood of the local people. The South African Rugby Team won the World Cup in November and I was hoping when I headed back to South Africa, to find the same positive feeling that was generated when they won the Webb Ellis trophy back in 1995.
However, this time it seemed to be different. The effects of having years of mismanagement of the infrastructure and the slow degradation of services, highlighted by the continual power outages, have taken its toll on the most optimistic individuals. Growing up in Africa makes one adaptable and accepting of the hardships that life throws at one, so to find so many of my once energetic and positive colleagues questioning me about the opportunities outside of South Africa, was quite alarming.
The reason for this trip was to promote the Isle of Man as a place to do business. The positive environment that the Isle of Man Government has created in which individuals and business can flourish while fiercely protecting its reputation, which it has built up over the past thousand years. It is a gateway for businesses to set up and to use as a springboard into the rest of the world. The Isle of Man Government is approachable and supportive of all new businesses which will grow our economy in a safe and stable environment.
The relationship between the Isle of Man and South Africa stretches back many years. The Isle of Man was a major centre for deep mining and from the 1870s onwards, Manx miners migrated to South Africa and helped grow the mining industry, and contributed to the South African economy. Today the Isle of Man has its own thriving South African community and strong business connections. It has a safe, stable environment in which business and entrepreneurs can flourish and find a home from home for their European based South African businesses. Many South Africans continue to make their mark in the Manx community.
On the trip I was joined by Colin Bird and Anthea Stephens from Maitland and, David Noon and Richard Johnson from Capital International. Unfortunately my Peregrine colleagues Martin Hall and Kate Parrish, as well as Dave Thomas from Optimus, were unable to make it out to South Africa due to flight cancellations caused by Storm Ciara.
This was our second roadshow to South Africa. The first was a great success and we were keen to build on the positive feedback we got following our trip. This time round we went into more depth about topical items such as tax transparency and economic substance.
Our events were held in Johannesburg and Cape Town and were run as interactive sessions where a panel answered questions from the audience about local tax law such as the “Expat Tax“ law in addition to the tax transparency and economic substance issues.
We covered different types of corporate and trust structures as well as different types of investment products. The questions generated conversations and highlighted the need for individuals to take professional advice before venturing offshore to pursue their business or personal goals.
We also held less formal events in Pretoria and Stellenbosch. The smaller number of guests allowed us to discuss more specific items which were pertinent to guest’s circumstances and needs.
One aspect that struck me during the events was how central the Isle of Man is located to the rest of the world. We have the ability to reach all corners of the world without any restriction. Through our professional networks we will be able to assist our clients set up and operate in any jurisdiction.
On reflection I am sure that South Africa will come through the difficult times it is having at the moment and will once again become the gateway into Africa. The relationship between the Isle of Man and South Africa will continue to grow and both countries will flourish.
Peregrine Corporate Services Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.