Wolfgang Schaeuble said comparing Britain to the Cayman Islands would be an “insult” to the UK but also issued a reminder that being small country comes with its own disadvantages.
The politician made the comments while speaking to media at the “digitising finance, financial inclusion and financial literacy” G20 conference at the Biebrich Palace in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “Great Britain cannot be compared to the Cayman Islands. That would be an insult to Great Britain and the policy-makers [operating] there.
“This is nonsense. Of course, some small units can take on certain advantages and functions.
Wolfgang Schaeuble has warned the UK it would fail if it became a tax haven
If a big country thinks it could have the benefits of a small country and remain a big country, then it all goes wrong
“But then there are small units, small countries, that deal also with certain disadvantages. And they don't complain about being different from bigger countries."
Mr Schaeuble said it could “all go wrong” if a “big” country sought the benefits of its smaller counterparts.
“If a big country thinks it could have the benefits of a small country and remain a big country, then it all goes wrong,” he said.
“And one must say that calmly. And because of this, we have a worldwide interest in not allowing for tax havens to exist by taking the load from other tax jurisdictions, as that would be unfair.
May's Brexit speech: Europe reacts
Tue, January 17, 2017
Politicians and celebrities tweet their reaction as Theresa May unveils her 12 point plan for Britain leaving the EU.
1 of 9
The British Prime Minister Delivers Her Brexit Speech
Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to stop the UK becoming a "bargain basement tax haven"
“And the rest of the world would not tolerate this, that's totally clear. This is why – for humanity – it goes well if there is a lot of cooperation."
Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the UK could seek to emulate the financial success of Singapore by massively reducing corporation tax.
Mr Corbyn said: “Labour respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50.
“However, Labour will seek to amend the Article 50 Bill to prevent the Conservatives using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe.
“Labour will seek to build in the principles of full, tariff-free access to the single market and maintenance of workers' rights and social and environmental protections.”