David Ezekiel, chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) and president and managing director of International Advisory Services Ltd .  first gave an overview of Bermuda's international business sector and its importance to the country's economy,

explaining the difference between tax exempt companies and those exempt from being 60 percent Bermudian on the condition they did not trade on the Island, as well as a breakdown of 18,000 international firms (500 of which have a physical presence) versus 4,000 local companies, the former of which are Bermuda's main economic drivers

Why did these companies come to Bermuda?  Insurance dominates our International landscape and we are the market leader in terms of number of companies and new formations. These companies came to Bermuda as the domicile of choice because of its sensible regulation, strong infrastructure and speed of incorporation.  The tax advantages which some companies came here for disappeared in 1986, but those companies are still here because of the regulatory environment, infrastructure, educated workforce and the accounting, legal and IT firms who can service them.  Bermuda also has a respected judicial system which people have confidence in knowing that if they have a dispute it can be responded to adequately.  Bermuda is also politically stable compared to what was happening in places such as the UK, in addition to a strong set of financial ratings and a good quality of life to offer its residents, which is Hugh. Relative to other jurisdictions, this is a wonderfully safe and secure Island.

There are 40,768 jobs in Bermuda 25% of which are held by work permit holders.  4,750 are directly employed by International business of which two thirds are Bermudians.  We are enormously lucky that International Business has picked up as Tourism has dropped.  We offer an amazing opportunity for young people and we should concentrate on these things rather than, this Executive is making more than this Executive.  B ut there is no room for complacency the Island needs to focus on what it does best in order to enjoy continued success in the years and decades to come.   Government and other organisations such as the Bermuda International Business Association (BIBA) and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) have done a great job in educating politicians and reformers key to the future of Bermuda's tax status and the retention of overseas companies operating here.  We have made tremendous strides in the way we do business in Bermuda, especially the Finance Ministry.  However, we have challenges facing Bermuda's international business sector and the jurisdiction as a whole.  External problems, coping with the rhetoric about offshore jurisdictions such as uninformed tax and legislative threats from. Politicians who often blame the entire recession on the offshore industry, but many times they have been talking to a largely uninformed public and need a reason to deflect attention from themselves, and funnily enough it seems to come from places where all the trouble with Madoff, Stanford and Northern Rock occurred.  T he Island's insurance industry alone paid out billions of dollars in claims following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma more than any other jurisdiction and had acted as a backstop to insurers in the US and Europe as evidence of the role it played in the global scheme of things.

A major barrier and destructive both from a personal and business aspect is Term Limits. Keeping the services of those who had contributed most to the country's economy and business community but did not have citizenship should be a top priority.  Individuals should be assessed on the value they bring to the economy rather than how long they have been here, with many permit holders being replaced by new ones who may require extra training and incur additional costs for their companies to relocate to the country.  It has a whole lot of operational and political issues relating to it, but hopefully we will find some way of stopping this revolving door.

We have made tremendous strides in terms of how international business operates here, but some challenges still remain I think one of the major challenges we have is to protect Bermuda and Bermudians and so we don't have the ability for non-Bermudians to gain status other than by connection.  We have to find a way to bind job creators to this Island because a lot of people who started up businesses here and have kids who are 10 or 11-years-old have suddenly realized they need to leave.  "When the job creators start to leave, that is when the warning bells start to ring and we have got to find some way to retain these 20 to 25 people who could in the long-term secure hundreds or even thousands of jobs for Bermudians in the years ahead and for them to be able to call Bermuda home.

 That is not to say we can get sanguine about it, but really I will defy anyone to pick a place that even comes close to what we have here.  We have got all the ingredients to keep us as successful as we have been over the past few decades.