Hon. Albert Isola M.P. - Minister for Digital and Financial Services of Gibraltar
Following our third successive general election victory on Friday 18th October, the Cabinet held a meeting on Monday 21st October for a Ministerial reshuffle. Following the outcome of the meeting, I have retained most of my former responsibilities, and with a slight title tweak, I am honoured to embark on an exciting new chapter as Minister for Digital and Financial Services. In keeping with the fast-paced nature of this remit, I was on a plane to London within hours of the Ministerial reshuffle to attend the 15th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) at the ExCel Conference Centre, scheduled to take place the following day.
The biennial Convention has a rich history spanning 30 years, with 2019 marking the first time the Convention has been held in Europe. The event organisers were gearing up for 3,000 Chinese businesspeople to attend from Mainland China, the United Kingdom, and overseas, with many high-profile and esteemed Chinese entrepreneurs travelling to London to attend the three-day event.
I participated in the Tuesday afternoon plenary session entitled ‘Investing into the UK, Looking Towards Europe’ and the session was opened by the UK Secretary of State for International Trade the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP. It was a privilege to stand alongside so many distinguished speakers from China and the United Kingdom at the event.
My panel focused on the future of UK-China Investment, featuring panelists from both jurisdictions. My presentation highlighted the opportunity for Chinese entrepreneurs involved in the Belt and Road Initiative to consider Gibraltar as a gateway to the UK. I proudly illustrated the great success Gibraltar has had with respect to the insurance and online gambling sectors, as well as our recent ascension as a bonafide fintech hub.
Arriving at the Convention, I wanted to illustrate the unique opportunities stemming from Gibraltar and the UK’s special relationship. I articulated how this relationship provides a gateway to the UK and a platform to facilitate increased trade between China and the UK, the world’s second largest and fifth largest economies respectively.
I first visited China in 1992 as a guest of the Beijing Regional Government and have been travelling to China on a regular basis over the last three years. I firmly believe that there are significant opportunities for Gibraltar to facilitate and benefit from stronger commercial ties with China. One of the goals of our Government is to secure more investment from Chinese entrepreneurs in Gibraltar, particularly in our digital economy, and to channel some of the future investment from China into the UK via Gibraltar.
Reflecting on the London Convention, the comments made by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday 24 October take on increased importance. Speaking in Beijing, President Xi Jinping declared that China should seize the opportunity afforded by blockchain technology and honed in on the necessity “to implement the rule of law network”, also calling for a top-down approach to implementing guidance and regulation.
My Government’s decision in 2017 to introduce a regulatory framework for DLT, the first of its kind, positions Gibraltar and our digital economy extremely well to participate in the future development of the digital Belt and Road Initiative which is gaining greater and greater importance.
To keep up to date on the latest developments visit thinkgibraltar.gi and gibraltarfinance.gi