Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Commerce.
(photo credit: HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR)
The Government of Gibraltar, in conjunction with the Gibraltar-Israel Chamber of Commerce (Gibrael), recently organized the first ever Gibraltar Day in Israel. During the event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tel Aviv’s business center, The Jerusalem Post took the opportunity to interview Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Commerce.
Gibraltar Day saw members of both business communities come together to promote the advantages of doing business in Gibraltar, with Minister Isola leading a large delegation featuring many of Gibraltar’s leading business figures. The event was also attended by prominent members of the Israeli business community and featured panel discussions focused on doing business in Gibraltar, with a large emphasis on hi-tech companies.
Minister Isola said, “The aim of Gibraltar Day is to promote and enhance the already close economic relations between Gibraltar and Israeli business. Israel is very active in Gibraltar, with Israeli companies both represented and operating here.”
Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, has a vibrant economy, the cornerstones of which are a thriving financial services sector, a growing reputation as a hub for hi-tech and blockchain technologies, a large tourist industry that recorded more than ten million visitors in 2017 and shipping and port services such as bunkering. Online gambling is responsible for about 3000 jobs in Gibraltar, just under 10% of the population, and the government astutely spotted a similar opportunity for the jurisdiction with blockchain.
Minister Isola emphasized that, “In Gibraltar, we are continuously developing the hi-tech aspects of our economy while also strengthening our ties with Israel. We recognize Israel as a major global technological centre, a true leader in technological innovation. In Gibraltar, we have solidified our position as a center of excellence in the online gaming industry. Our countries are intrinsically linked, and our relationship is defined by a spirit of collaboration, which will continue to build over the coming years.”
He added, “We are also quickly becoming a hub for blockchain technologies as we have much to offer them. Currently, we are the only place in the world where blockchain activities are regulated. I strongly believe that this regulation will facilitate an easier pathway into global markets for blockchain companies registered in Gibraltar. I also believe that hi-tech companies that register in Gibraltar will find it much easier to penetrate world markets. The Israeli business community has found a home away from home in Gibraltar, and I look forward to strengthening ties with the vibrant Israeli sector here in the years ahead.”
Why is Gibraltar particularly attractive to hi-tech business?
“Gibraltar, while small, is known for its efficiency, making it a haven for hi-tech business. As seen by our strong tradition in supporting the online gaming sector, Gibraltar is a jurisdiction whose policies are driven by regulation, reputation, and speed to market. Because of our capacity to build adaptive and supportive regulatory frameworks, companies registered in Gibraltar will have an edge on their prospective competitors because they will be able to market their product earlier, as well as benefit from the innovative and business friendly environment. Speed to market is vital in business, especially for innovative hi-tech products, which is why Gibraltar is particularly attractive to any company looking to succeed in the space.
We operate a business friendly environment in Gibraltar. Our legal system, similar to Israel, is based on the English legal system, adapted by legislation in our parliaments according to local needs and developments. In addition, we have a very stable and open political system, which is always a benefit to the business community. The economic policies promoted by successive Gibraltarian governments have created a strong, vibrant economy with a GDP per capita of approximately $70,000, among the highest in the world.”
As a jurisdiction relatively new to the hi-tech space, in what sense is Gibraltar a technological hub?
“We offer developers the same exceptional standards and opportunities we have become renowned for in traditional industries. We supply hi-tech companies with experienced financial and marketing services, we host registered companies in our fast-evolving blockchain ecosystem and, in so doing, have a large amount of hi-tech companies operating from Gibraltar itself. Despite our small size, we are a significant consumer of hi-tech products, with our gaming and financial centers using the most-up-to-date and cutting-edge technologies. Therefore, as users, promoters and legislators of new technologies, we are fast on our way to establishing Gibraltar as an unparalleled hub of blockchain and hi-tech innovation.”
After having met with many different people here at Gibraltar Day, how would you assess the future ties between Israel and Gibraltar?
“I have high hopes that our mutual economic relations will continue to grow as our countries further develop a relationship of collaboration, innovation, and encouragement. We share many similarities, not least our commitment to combining hard work with strong determination to achieve impactful results. The speed to market that is facilitated in our jurisdictions is one of the attributes that allows us to compete successfully on an international level, regardless of our size. We are also visionary nations in that we spot trends and developments in their early stages and use this information to establish pragmatic solutions and a competitive advantage. I look forward to building on these shared principles with Israel and ensuring Gibraltar remains a supportive space for Israel’s thriving technology industry.”
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