The Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE travelled to London this week to put forward the BVI’s core principles for its future relationship with the European Union (EU), as the United Kingdom (UK) negotiates its exit from the EU, and outlined the global opportunities it presents.
The BVI Government’s priorities for post-Brexit arrangements are to maintain freedom of movement to and within the EU for BVIslanders, to ensure that the BVI is included in any free trade deals the UK agrees, and to ensure that regional funding programmes in which the BVI currently participates are replaced. The Premier also used the visit to point to the opportunity to enhance the BVI’s economic partnership with the UK as the latter looks to extend its economic links and trade arrangements beyond the EU.
Premier Smith discussed the BVI’s post-Brexit vision at the UK-OT Joint Ministerial Council on EU Negotiations on July 12 with UK Government ministers. He also spoke at a hearing of the House of Lords Select Committee of the European Union on July 10, giving evidence to the cross-party group of British peers examining the impact of Brexit on Britain’s Overseas Territories.
Both meetings were opportunities for Premier Smith to outline the benefits the BVI receives from its current relationship with the EU. He noted that the BVI currently has access to a €40 million Caribbean regional fund and €18 million thematic fund which forms part of the 11th European Development Fund, which will address climate change, marine biodiversity and sustainable energy. The EU has also supported the growth of the Territory’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The BVI Government has called on the UK government to maintain a funding stream for such support to the Territory beyond 2020.
Premier Smith said, “I am pleased with the constructive conversations I have had this week with the UK Government on developing options for replacing EU support lost as a result of Brexit. In particular, I made it clear how important it is for us to maintain access to programmes which will support the prosperity of BVI businesses and BVIslanders and the freedom of movement rights which we currently enjoy.”
The Premier also outlined the positive opportunities there are for the BVI and the UK as the latter looks to strike new trade deals. He noted that these agreements will help create a larger global footprint for the UK, on which the Overseas Territories can capitalise.
The Honourable Premier also stated, “The Capital Economics Report has shown the level to which BVI is engaged in world trade with 6% of GDP flowing through the Territory supporting two million jobs and $1.5 trillionof investment worldwide. Given our strong relations with many countries with which the UK aims to make trade deals, we are hopeful that our strong partnership with the UK will only be further enhanced as the UK exits the EU.”