Prime Minister David Cameron meets with Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo in Downing Street for talks on the border dispute with Spain (Photo: Getty)
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General Election: what they’re saying

The UK General Election is days away and although both main parties are committed to the Rock, a number of issues have surfaced in their pronouncements in recent weeks. Guy Clapperton takes the temperature.

First the good news if you’re resident in Gibraltar and want to stay British; neither Labour nor the Conservatives are making noises about being less than committed to you. Whether the new Government is Labour-led minority, Conservative-led coalition as we’ve seen for the last five years or some other hybrid as yet unimagined, Gibraltar’s status should be beyond doubt.

The parties haven’t always been so transparent. Some people will recall the then Home Secretary Jack Straw’s so-called Andorra Solution mooted in 2002, under which the UK and Spain would have had joint sovereignty; this was rejected comprehensively by a Gib referendum, and if anybody’s thinking of suggesting anything like it again, they’re not saying so out loud. Currently Labour’s funders are suggesting Gibraltarians can sleep easy, although there is no mention of it in the party’s manifesto. The Conservatives, by contrast, suggest they will protect the democratic rights of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands and encourage them to remain British for “as long as they wish”. UKIP’s manifesto is strongly in favour of other countries being urged to respect the Rock’s Britishness,

That said, some issues have emerged that could change the current status, not because of any wish to change but because of what happens outside the Rock. The first might actually strengthen Gibraltar as a British territory: if the SNP wins the expected landslide in Scotland then the moral if not constitutional case for moving trident will become unarguable. According to reports published in  the Daily Express and RT, Gibraltar is among the options under consideration should there be a move. Arguments over whether Trident should be scrapped aside (and no major party is suggesting this), it would be inconceivable to suggest Britain would be any more amenable to Spain’s entreaties to abandon the Rock if its nuclear deterrent were to be based on it.

The SNP also has a walk-on part in the second scenario that could spell change. Although the Conservative assurances of sovereignty are likely to be welcomed in the territory, the promise of an in-out referendum on Europe should the same party get a simple majority is less so (and if UKIP holds any sway then the referendum is increasingly likely).

As our article from Dominique Searle pointed out only weeks ago, Gibraltar joined the EU at the same time as the UK in the same referendum. If the UK decides to pull out in 2017 then Gibraltar comes out. Should that happen it’s almost certain to reapply or do whatever it has to do to stay in; in an article from The Trumpet in mid-April, chief minister Fabian Picardo is quoted as saying “[If] one part of the UK decides that it wants out of the European Union, then the negotiations should involve each of the separate parts being able to remain with a different degree of membership.”

Gibraltar wants to stay in the EU even if the rest of the UK left. This scenario could involve another major change as the SNP would almost certainly claim Scotland wanted to remain involved in Europe, too. There has been a great deal of speculation that if the UK did pull out this would precipitate a second referendum on Scotland’s relationship with the Union in which it might well becom independent. It’s early to be discussing the effect a break-up of the Union would have on outlying territories, but we could be looking at a European Gibraltar regarding itself as British while Britain is no longer European – and no longer the Britain it was because of the absence of Scotland. The only certainty would be uncertainty.

Within a couple of weeks, depending on the length of the horse trading, we’ll have an idea of at least the starting point for the next five years. With a hung Parliament the most likely outcome and a referendum a distinct possibility, the fact that both main parties have stated support for a British Gibraltar doesn’t leave the way as unambiguous as might have been hoped.

Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.

Photo: Getty
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A new Chamber of Commerce to be launched on the Rock between Gibraltar and Israel

For Israeli companies, Gibraltar can serve as an ideal testing ground for new technologies as well as the ultimate gateway into the bigger European markets. 

On the 28th of October, a new Chamber of Commerce between Gibraltar and Israel is going to be launched on the Rock, under the name “Gibrael”. This is the second bi-national Chamber of Commerce to be established in Gibraltar after AmCham was founded a couple of years ago, between Gibraltar and the United States. Gibrael is the brainchild of Eran Shay and Ayelet Mamo Shay, who have moved to Gibraltar over 8 years ago and run a local business & strategic consultancy firm called Benefit Business Solutions, which assist companies from around the world in using Gibraltar as a gateway to Europe.   

What made you decide to establish the Chamber of Commerce between Gibraltar and Israel?

The idea to launch “Gibrael” came from the realization that there are many potential synergies between Gibraltar and Israel. Over the last few years, both the Government of Gibraltar and local businesses are thirsty for innovative technologies and we thought Israel, who is renowned worldwide for being the “start-up nation” and a place from where many leading technologies have emerged, could best answer these needs. For Israeli companies, Gibraltar can serve as an ideal testing ground for new technologies as well as the ultimate gateway into the bigger European markets. There are benefits for both countries, and Gibrael would act as a bridge connecting people and facilitating business from both sides. 

What is it about Gibraltar that makes it attractive to Israeli companies?

Gibraltar’s membership of the EU along with its most attractive tax regime in the EU (10% corporate tax, no VAT, no capital gains tax, no tax on investment income, no dividends tax and other benefits) makes Gibraltar an attractive place for Israeli companies in which to establish a base as part of their expansion strategy to the European markets.

Technology testing and other pilot studies is an important milestone prior to mass marketing. Companies who wish to enter the European markets often want to test their technologies in an EU compliant environment under European standards and regulation. Due to its small size, Gibraltar has fewer bureaucratic layers than most other countries, making access to key decision makers, both in Government and in industry much simpler and quicker. Thus, there are much fewer bureaucratic hurdles in Gibraltar for companies to get approvals, licences or certification than in bigger countries. Gibraltar is a small contained economy (measuring 7sq kilometres), making it easier to administer and run pilot testing schemes and be in close geographical proximity to all test sites. Moreover, most start-ups have limited financial and human resources which impede on their ability to test trial their technology in the large countries thereby creating a barrier to entry to the big European markets.

Gibraltar’s unique advantages significantly reduce time to market and provide cost efficiencies to companies who wish to access the European markets. Innovative companies in the fields of FinTech, CleanTech, Telecom, smart city solutions, homeland security and more are already here and ripping the benefits of testing their innovative technologies first in Gibraltar, before moving on to the bigger markets in Europe.

Israeli companies from what sectors are likely to benefit from doing business in Gibraltar?  

Israeli FinTech startups and established financial services companies, including banks, insurance companies, funds, and asset managers can benefit from Gibraltar’s EU membership by becoming regulated in Gibraltar and then “passporting” their licence to the rest of the EU. This is also true for e-money type operations such as Forex trading platforms, electronic wallets, payment processing companies and other innovative financial services. The Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (FSC) is recognized for its quality by the IMF and boasts an accessible and user-friendly approach.

Another popular sector which has already seen vast Israeli involvement is the eGaming sector.  Gibraltar is home to 35 of the biggest names in the online gaming industry. Being close to these top operators, acts a magnate to related support services and software development companies who wish to enter this lucrative market.

Other types of eBusinesses such as online retailers, ePublishing, online marketing agencies and more can also benefit from Gibraltar’s position as a hub on the Europe-India internet gateway, offering bandwidth capacity of 3.84 Terabit. In addition, the Rock’s territorial tax system implies that income generated from outside Gibraltar is potentially exempt from tax in Gibraltar- a huge benefit for such companies.   

Finally, the fact that Gibraltar does not have a manufacturing sector and almost completely relies on imports for its domestic needs, means that manufacturers of finished goods, equipment, machinery and consumer goods, can explore opportunities in this market.    

What is planned for the Gibraltar-Israel launch event?  

This is going to be a high profile event, in the presence of the Chief Minister and other ministers from the Gibraltar Government, delegates from the Gibraltar Finance Centre and other local associations and various business leaders. The Israeli delegation will include the Economic Attaché from the Israeli Embassy in London, representatives from several Israeli trade and industry associations, and various CEOs of Israeli corporates. There will be opportunities for one-to-one meetings as well as networking dinners.    

For further details on the event please contact Eran Shay at


Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.