Editor’s note: Barbados Comes to Atlanta is sponsoring Global Atlanta through the nation’s consulate general in Miami.
Update: This article has been updated to highlight the menu at the event, which was catered by acclaimed chef and culinary educator Kareen Linton, assisted by students from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
A decorated ”Bajan” chef prepared dishes inspired by her country, and the Atlanta community brought its interest in the Caribbean nation of Barbados as its representatives previewed an upcoming cultural and investment summit during a Buckhead reception April 21.
Designed to promote the “Barbados Comes to Atlanta” series of events May 26-29, which itself is poised to attract high-ranking officials including the prime minister and trade minister, the preview event drew more than 60 attendees to the law offices of Thompson Hine LLP, including the keynote speaker of the night, Kenneth Campbell, the top investment recruiter for the country.
Having flown in from Barbados, Mr. Campbell, head of investment promotion for Invest Barbados, told attendees that the country stands ready to help them put the island’s variety of international business and financial structures to use for their operations in Africa, Latin America and beyond.
Already, more than 4,000 international companies operate on the island. They’re predominantly from Canada and the United Kingdom, and now the country is hoping to expand its influence in the U.S. to show that Barbados is more than just a beach destination.
Mr. Campbell specifically noted Barbados’ potential role as conduit for an anticipated boom in business with Cuba, another island nation that seems to be cracking open but whose Communist government isn’t likely to make things simple for American firms in the short term. A half-century-old American embargo remains in effect, keeping most goods off limits despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to liberalize trade on the heels of normalizing relations between the nations.
The process by which Barbados can help American firms there is to be outlined in detail during an investment seminar companies can attend May 27 as part of the broader Barbados festivities.
“In essence, Barbados offers investors the security of (investing in Cuba) with the sound protection of a bilateral investment treaty, and the certainty of a double-taxation agreement,” Mr. Campbell said in prepared remarks, noting that his country also has a similar tax agreement with the U.S.
DTAs, as he called them, mean companies aren’t taxed twice on what they earn in the partner country. Earnings brought back from Barbados are taxed only at the differential between that country’s low tax rate and the U.S. rate. This network of 36 DTAs and nine investment treaties forms the “bedrock” of the Barbados brand, Mr. Campbell said.
He didn’t specifically mention the Panama Papers investigation, a trove of leaked documents from a Panama law firm outlining how businesspeople and politicians the world over have used offshore accounts to shield themselves from tax liability. Though legal, the revelations of the extent to which government officials are keeping wealth abroad has cast a negative light on the practice as many politicians preach the need to tackle expanding income inequality.
But Mr. Campbell sought to distinguish Barbados from other jurisdictions, emphasizing its compliance with international best practices including “Automatic Exchange of Information” with partners including the United States.
“Investors have been attracted to Barbados because of our track record as a well regulated, transparent, treaty-based jurisdiction with a long history of economic, political and social stability,” he said, noting that strong educational attainment, based on the British system, gives companies a local pool through which to hire skilled employees in services Ilke accounting, law and management. In essence, that means they have real business there, rather than the “brass plate” operations other jurisdictions allow.
The event put Barbados in a personal context as well as showcasing its strong diplomatic connection with its former colonists, the United Kingdom, which was represented by Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, the nation’s consul general in Atlanta.
First settled in the 1600s, the Brits for years used Barbados for sugar cane production and export, supplying substantial revenues for the King’s coffers. Slaves brought to work the plantations were the ancestors of most of today’s 300,000 inhabitants.
But slavery was abolished in all British territories in 1834, and the scars of the past haven’t sullied relations over the past 50 years since Barbados became an independent nation.
The U.K. uses Barbados as base in the Caribbean and partners with the country in its work globally on drug prevention, economic development and other sectors.
“We value Barbados as a base and as a friend, and we do a lot of good work with Barbados,” said Mr. Pilmore-Bedford, who formerly focused on Caribbean and Mexican affairs for the British foreign office.
He said his six or seven trips to Barbados during that time were most rewarding in providing interactions with the people of an island that is still sometimes referred to as “Little England.”
“I love the way that you have little idiosyncrasies, like if I’d been traveling on the eastern Caribbean islands and I came to Barbados, people would say, ‘Oh, you’ve been on the islands, have you?’ As if Barbados was not an island,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
The event was catered by The Linton Group LLC, which is run by President, CEO and Executive Chef Kareen Linton, whose long list of culinary accolades includes membership in the exclusive Le Chaine des Rotissuer, a food and wine society dating back to 1248, as well as the Disciples of Escoffier USA-International, an elite order of chefs.
Chef Linton sits on the Board of Directors of the American Culinary Federation’s Atlanta Chefs Association, from which she won the Humanitarian of the Year award 2015 – 2016. She brought some of her students from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts to assist with the preparation and presentation, which was met with applause at least three times at the event. The menu included chicken skewers with a spiced rum sauce, mini macaroni pies topped with sweet onion crème and fresh herbs and bacon-wrapped meatballs with a savory mango sauce, among other delights.
Remarks were also given by Barbados’ diplomatic representation in Atlanta, Honorary Consul Edward Layne, as well as David Cutting, a former international banker who is set to take over Dr. Layne’s role upon his retirement.
Roy Hadley Jr. of Thompson Hine outlined his firm’s Caribbean and Africa practice, which is based in the Atlanta office.
To learn more about the Barbados Comes to Atlanta event, visit www.barbadoscomesto.org.
For questions on the investment forum, contact David Cutting at email@example.com.
To reach Mr. Campbell at Invest Barbados, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View more photos from the event here: