In March 2020, the borders to the Cook Islands slammed shut. What that meant for the Cook Islands was no more tourists, and for a country heavily reliant on tourism – it had a huge impact. Several businesses were suddenly reliant on the government for their survival and many Cook Islanders lost their jobs. Ultimately Cook Islanders started to migrate to New Zealand in search of employment.
In the offshore trust industry, the impact was low. Trust companies in the Cook Islands continued to operate as normal. Employment actually increased over the past year while PAYE and VAT paid to government remained steady. The industry has proven itself resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Confidence in the Cook Islands trust industry is high and this seems to mirror what is happening to trust and estate practitioners across the world. A survey of STEP practitioners found that net impact of COVID-19 across jurisdictions has been that business has either remained at the same levels as before or increased. This unsurprisingly has increased calls for the industry to be considered high up on the diversification list for the Cook Islands.
The Trustee Companies business in the Cook Islands has matured since it’s inception over 40 years ago. We have:
- a well-developed market and customer base
- an experienced and highly-skilled workforce and
- a reputation for trust legislation that has been duplicated throughout the United States of America and the several other jurisdictions.
The industry is currently waiting for the Cook Islands Government to approve new and exciting legislation which will offer a further advantage to the jurisdiction and once again put us at the forefront of cutting edge legislation.