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Treasury Minister Meets Financial Leaders in Washington – Announces Plan to Help Developing Small States 14 October 2008

WASHINGTON DC, October 13, 2008 – Treasury Minister, Allan Bell, in Washington to attend the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings, held informal meetings over the weekend with the leaders of the international financial institutions and with ministers and officials of both industrialised and developing countries. Of particular note was the Minister’s lengthy and helpful discussion with OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria, who has recently characterised the Isle of Man as a model for its openness and cooperative stance towards other jurisdictions.

On Saturday, the Minister was the keynote speaker at the Small States Forum hosted by the World Bank where he met its President, Robert Zoellick. “The president had just come from a tense G-7 finance ministers meeting and discussed the more coordinated international response to the global financial crisis that has emerged over the past few days. He stressed that now is the time for governments across the world to start putting in place improved regulatory and other policies rather than waiting until the crisis has run its course.”

This is the first time that a delegation from the Isle of Man has attended the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank and follows the election of the Island as the first Associate Member of the Small States Network for Economic Development. In his statement to the Small States Forum, the Minister announced a major new initiative that will leverage the Isle of Man’s financial sector expertise to benefit of other small states, many of which are amongst the poorest countries in the world.

An innovative executive education programme run by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School will enable some 25 officials a year from the central banks, finance ministries and regulatory bodies of small states to improve their ability to manage their financial sectors and engage more effectively with the global financial system.

The initiative will bring together leading professors from Oxford, Harvard, and other universities, along with practitioners from throughout the world, including several from the Isle of Man, to engage with 25 small state officials each year for a two week highly participatory programme using the facilities of the Isle of Man International Business School, starting in September 2009.

Unveiling the initiative at the opening session of the Small States Forum here today, the Minister said that: “Events in the financial markets over the past few months and days have brought into stark relief the need for all countries to have well run banking and financial sectors and to embrace sound regulation, so we believe this programme will be very timely.”

The Minister highlighted a particular challenge for small states that the initiative seeks to address, “As small states we are all familiar with how difficult it is for us to negotiate with the big boys. To respond to this need, which was stressed in discussions with the Commonwealth Secretariat over the past year, the programme will include a three-day customized version of the Oxford Programme on Negotiation”.

The programme will include topics such as sound regulatory practices, risk-based banking supervision, financial legislation, the scope for central bank collaboration among small states, and improving the performance of government agencies in the financial sector. “We will also include anti money laundering and the Stolen Assets Recovery or StAR initiative of the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.”

The programme will be jointly funded by the Isle of Man Government and several international organisations and bilateral donors. This will enable officials from some of the world’s poorest countries to benefit from the programme. The World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat have played a major role in helping the Island to develop the initiative and it was widely welcomed by ministers and officials attending the forum.

The Small States Forum takes place at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings, and brings together more than 40 countries with populations of 1.5 million or less. The Forum is sponsored by the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union, the IMF, UNCTAD and the WTO.

Noting the value of joining the network, the Minister said “We see international cooperation as being essential for our prosperity and have developed excellent links with many jurisdictions over the years. Joining the Small States Network opens up new opportunities for partnership with nations in the developing world whose challenges we seek to understand better and to whose prosperity we hope we may contribute.”

The Minister was accompanied on the three-day visit to Washington by Chief Financial Officer, Mark Shimmin and Tim Cullen, a former senior official of the World Bank and an Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School, where he teaches and directs the Oxford Programme on Negotiation. Cullen has played a key role in developing the initiative in collaboration with international organisations and academics over the past year.

Commenting on the value of the Island participating in the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings, the Minister said; “It was fortuitous that this long-planned trip to respond to the invitation to address the Small States Forum, should have come at this particular time, enabling us to hear directly from the people who are seeking solutions to the global financial crisis and to exchange views on addressing our own immediate challenges with fellow ministers and officials”

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