Few, if any, national economies escaped 2020 with a clean bill of health, and Israel was no exception. As per the Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s economy contracted by 2.4% across the year, the most severe decline since the state was established in 1948. It is a testament to the unprecedented nature of the past year that Israel’s performance can be considered a relative success story – the average across the OECD countries was a 5.5% decline.
Though economically speaking Israel has fared comparatively well, more generally the region’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is a mixed story. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, Israel was still being overseen by a caretaker government following the inconclusive result of the legislative election in March 2020. A state of emergency was declared and legally enforceable restrictions were introduced, preventing citizens from leaving their homes except for a short list of specified reasons. To ease the economic strain, the government introduced a $22bn economic rescue package to bolster the healthcare system, assist the unemployed and support struggling businesses. These restrictions proved largely effective and by the end of May most restrictions had been lifted, allowing most Israelis to enjoy a relatively free early summer. Continue reading “Israel focus: Land of milk and honey”
According to the European Commission’s winter forecast, despite a severe economic contraction of around 9% in 2020, Malta’s economy will grow by 4.5% in 2021. A recent proposal by the Commission to end quarantine and testing for vaccinated adults travelling from one EU country to another will be welcome news for the island nation, for which tourism is one of the top five contributors to the economy. The Maltese government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been robust and, at times, has been praised by the World Health Organisation. On 25 May, the minister for health Chris Fearne stated that 70% of the population had been vaccinated, making it the first country in the world to reach the estimated benchmark for herd immunity.
In June 2020, the Maltese government set out measures to alleviate the financial pressures brought on by the pandemic; these attempted to increase investment, incentivise domestic consumption and reduce the costs of operating a business. For workers, this meant the extension of the Covid-19 wage supplement with a particular focus on those who are dependent on the tourism industry for work. For businesses, a range of cost-cutting measures were introduced, including rent and electricity subsidies, refunds of trading licences, refunds on port charges and grants, among others. Employers were also offered cash to facilitate the costs of setting up workers to work remotely and a quarantine leave grant was offered for each worker who had to undertake mandatory quarantine. Also, at the start of the pandemic, €900m was provided in bank guarantees for businesses who required loans for operational matters, which was provided by the National Development and Social Fund, and a number of EU funds. Continue reading “Life in a bubble – the Malta report”
The global digital health market is expanding and is expected to reach revenues of $600bn by 2024 (McKinsey, The Economist, 2 December 2020).
In Israel, digital health is thriving and attracting international attention, and in particular increasingly substantial investments. This is due to Israel’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes: Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Digital health in Israel – Opportunities and regulatory aspects”
Dr Jean-Pie Gauci-Maistre is Gauci-Maistre Xynou’s managing partner, having co-founded the firm in 2015. Jean-Pie’s focus throughout his career has been in different areas in the maritime industry. Following stints with the EU Commission cabinet for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs and the internationally renowned ship management company, Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd, he moved to Malta to head the legal department of GM International Services Ltd.
With GMX he specialises in ship and yacht registrations under the Malta Flag as well as ship and yacht finance. With the amendments to Maltese aviation law in recent years, he has also focused on the firm’s aviation practice. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Q&A with managing partner Dr. Jean-Pie Gauci-Maistre”
‘Anyone who says they’re not struggling would be lying,’ says Tim Pearce, global managing partner of Bedell Cristin, referring to the Jersey market. ‘Every sector of the economy and every business has struggled or suffered as a result of Covid, though businesses have struggled in different ways. Some financially, others socially. Others are struggling in terms of pure management. But for us, and indeed for the offshore industry as a whole, we’ve weathered the storm OK so far.’
Pearce’s cautiously optimistic outlook reverberates throughout the discussions with partners across the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands archipelago and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea to the north – the jurisdictions collectively known as the Crown Dependencies. Unlike the UK, domestic property is booming, buoyed by numerous factors. ‘In times of crisis, people invest in what they know,’ says Pearce. ‘People are looking for safe havens right now and property in all of our offshore jurisdictions is benefiting from that.’ Continue reading “UK offshore report: Staying afloat”
The Caribbean’s offshore financial centres have faced their fair share of challenges in recent years thanks to the increased international scrutiny of the tax haven environments, the impact of falling oil prices and the business interruption caused by the seemingly endless cycle of hurricanes, which sees the region bear the brunt of the ever-pervasive impact of climate change. Add to that a global pandemic, and there’s certainly the potential for a substantial economic disaster.
While the Covid-19 infection numbers for the Caribbean as a whole have remained low thanks to quick action by the local governments to close borders, enact temporary lockdowns and implement testing and contact tracing methods, the primary impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Caribbean is undoubtedly on tourism. For Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Cayman Islands (Cayman), the tourism industry contributes 28%, 52% and 70% of the average GDP respectively and figures suggest that, at worst, 2020 could see a 71% reduction in the number of international visitors. Continue reading “Caribbean offshore report: End of the storm?”