The Washington-based Center for Freedom and Prosperity will hold its third in a series of Tax Competition Forums in the Caribbean and Latin America on July 15, 2003.

This Seminar will focus on the need to protect tax competition and also what is being done to oppose the tax harmonisation agenda of international agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU).

Speakers will give updates on the OECD’s “harmful” tax competition project, the EU’s Savings Tax Directive and the US/Panama Tax Information Exchange Agreement. The seminar also will touch on a number of new issues, including OECD initiatives relating to business incorporation and the ship registration business.

**Open Ship Registries**

A major topic for the Panama tax competition seminar will be the need to maintain competition in the market for ship registration business.

A release from the CFP says, *”Nations such as Panama, Liberia, and **The Bahamas** maintain effective and competitive open ship registries. These low-cost registries provide vigorous and necessary competition to restrictive national registries.”*

The CFP feels that high-tax nations resent this competition and have prompted the OECD to attack open registries. The Panama seminar will explain why competition is desirable, and how it helps to facilitate world trade and ensure lower costs for consumers.

**Bahamas Ship Registry**

The Bahamas, the world’s third largest “Flag State”, currently has over 1400 ships on its Ship Register, totalling in excess of 34 million gross tons. The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) maintains offices in Nassau, London and New York, with plans for another office to open in Greece. The BMA also operates an agency in Tokyo.

J. Mervyn Jones, BMA Director, says that one of the reasons why The Bahamas is popular as a “flag” is that the ship registry is part of a wider appeal of the jurisdiction as a major tourist attraction and financial centre. *”In each of these industries – tourism, finance, and shipping – the aim of the Bahamian Government is to focus on quality.”*

The Director also emphasises that the ongoing policy for the Authority has been “growth with quality” — demonstrated by the number of high quality owners now using the Register. In addition to these high standards, the success of the Bahamas Ship Registry can be attributed to many of the factors that have positioned the country as a leading financial services centre: a progressive legislative and judicial system, political stability, neutral tax regime, and competitive fees.