Remarks by Premier of the Virgin Islands
Honourable Andrew A. Fahie
Opening of the Consular Office of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
in the Virgin Islands
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Honourable Sir Luis Straker,
Deputy Premier and Minister for Education in the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley
Honourable Shereen Flax Charles, Junior Minister for Trade in the Virgin Islands
Honourable Alvera Maduro Caines Representative for the Sixth District
Ladies and Gentlemen listening on ZBVI Radio and viewing via Facebook, in the Virgin Islands and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Good day and God’s Blessing to everyone.
Today, I am immensely proud and delighted to be present for this historic milestone for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Virgin Islands.
This is the first Diplomatic Representative Office to be established in the Territory. So Bishop Charles is correct, this is our first child.
My Government is pleased to formalise the relationship which has existed between the people of the Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for decades.
We have heard many perspectives today, but I must acknowledge that the relationship between the people of the Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is long and deep.
Since 1984 the Virgin Islands, joined the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and has carried on friendly relations, and partnered with the countries of this sub-region in many areas, including education, healthcare, sports, the procurement of pharmaceuticals, and the sharing of a Judiciary – the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Commercial Division of which is housed right here in the Virgin Islands.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the countries in this grouping with which the Territory has a special relationship.
Of the many nationalities represented, we have more Vincentians living and working with us here than any other country grouping.
They are our friends, neighbours, husbands, wives and children and even our Bishop.
That is why in 2019, my Government took the opportunity to speak during a meeting of the OECS. It was my first regional meeting after being elected as your new Government.
During that time, my Government set up a committee to urgently look into the status situation of thousands of people—most of them from the Eastern Caribbean, particularly St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica—who had made the BVI their home for 20 years and more and has significantly contributed in a positive way.
We were committed to restoring the dignity of hundreds of persons, so we established a foundation for empowerment and unity.
Today, I am pleased to officially take steps to deepen the level of cooperation between our Governments, by collaborating to develop opportunities for trade in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing goods and indeed services.
So this is just not a partnership for partnership this also will help our economy.
In March of this year during, an online Intra-regional Trade Symposium, I spoke of the limitless opportunities for trade in both goods and services which abound within our region.
I told you that our Caribbean neighbours have a lot to offer in manufactured goods, professional services, skilled labour and partnerships that can deliver mutual benefits.
The Caribbean tends to look all around the world to see who will be the one to come and rescue them, when God already let us know that the Savior for us in the Caribbean is within us, and it’s just for us to come together.
Today, I reiterate that the Caribbean region is very strong, our people are resilient and if we work together the possibilities are endless.
We have heard today, reflections from our brother about the historic journey of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a traditional farming community, producers of the world famous Windward Islands banana, breadfruit, and dasheen. SVG has sustained and nourished souls and bodies the world over.
Our world continues to change; and that’s the only constant that we do have, to evolve and grow; and as a Caribbean people we too must change and evolve with it and find new ways to ensure our survival.
The formalisation of this relationship with St. Vincent and the Grenadines is only the first step in paving the way and creating the architecture for intra-regional trade.
Through this enhanced partnership the BVI will look to our neighbours and friends and indeed our family to assist us in enhancing our food security through the expansion of our agricultural base and this an area to that the Minister of Education and Culture and Agriculture has already been working with the Government in St. Vincent on and we will have much more details on that in the very near future.
By contrast, the BVI is a world renowned tourist destination. We entertain mega yachts, charter boats and hotel guests.
We provide an idyllic retreat for our many visitors, they too would be the beneficiaries of an enhanced range of fresh agricultural produce.
This is something we have talked about for many years and through this partnership it can finally be realised. If it’s one thing that will be the trademark of this Government we are not afraid to complete the things that have been outstanding for many years.
The BVI trades primarily in services, providing vacation experiences, and financial management solutions to a range of clientele.
As we deepen the level of trade between BVI and SVG we will support their efforts in retooling their labour force for the global knowledge based, digital service economy, we now live in.
We expect to invite their students to train with us at the Culinary Institute and Marine Centre at the H L Stoutt Community College as St. Vincent and the Grenadines also prepares to diversify its own economy.
COVID-19 has provided the catalyst for our region to excel and chart our course to a brighter future together.
One of the areas of COVID-19 I have said is that everyone is concentrating on the negative aspect but in order for us to not only survive, but thrive in the midst of COVID-19 and beyond is to focus on the positives sections and work on them.
Today, as we bless this Consular Office I reaffirm my commitment to continue to work with our brothers and sisters across the region for the post COVID world.
At this time, I extend heartfelt Congratulations to Bishop Ishmael Charles on his appointment as Honourary Consul of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Virgin Islands.
It was just Wednesday, that I congratulated Bishop Charles as he presented to me his Credentials, not as a Bishop this time, but in his official capacity as a Representative of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Bishop Charles, is a well-known pastor in this Territory, particularly the New Testament Church of God.
I know that he will do his best to ensure that the Consular Office meet the expectations of those who will utilise its services.
As Honourary Consul, Bishop Charles will promote the economic interest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Virgin Islands.
He will identify and facilitate opportunities for development of business relations trade, commerce, tourism, culture and employment.
He will assist nationals of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines visiting and residing in the Virgin Islands.
And, he will enhance the friendly and cordial relations existing between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Virgin Islands.
The New Regular, living and working with COVID-19 may have projected impacts on the regional economies as a tourism basin.
COVID-19 may have depleted our resources. COVID-19 may have affected our people of the region in myriad ways, as with the rest of the world.
What we will not allow COVID-19 to do is to prevent regional leaders from coming together to create opportunities to explore and expand and strengthen our markets.
As regional leaders, we are committed to ensuring that our unique differences in topography, culture, and product offerings do not overshadow our commitment to working together.
As a Caribbean region working together as one, our possibilities are limitless if we continue to collaboratively move one as a hand to stimulate business and economic growth, and governments and our people work together harmoniously to strengthen our respective jurisdictions and destinations.
Indeed, we’re in this together, and we will continue to strengthen our alliances through our regional bodies, including Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Caribbean Community (CARICOM), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), OECS, for example, to move the pendulum forward as we support each other.
Once again, today is historic, and we welcome this regional cooperation and partnership with BVILOVE. May God bless this new partnership.
And may it continue to grow from strength to strength as we continue to crystalise and formalise what is already existed in the BVI.