The British Virgin Islands has engaged stakeholders in Brussels on an alternative relationship between the Territory and the European Union (EU) after Brexit takes place, that is, the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU.
Last week, BVI EU Representative,Mr. Benito Wheatley met, among others, Secretary General of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of Countries, His Excellency Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes, in Brussels.
In their exchange, Mr. Wheatley expressed the BVI’s keen interest in establishing closer ties with the ACP in their future arrangements with the EU.
Mr. Wheatley said Premier, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE gave him the mandate to explore different options for the Territory’s relationship with the EU, adding, “The ACP Group is the most logical alternative for the BVI because of our similar relationship with the EU and the Territory’s position in the Caribbean where many ACP countries are located.”
The BVI’s EU Representative also attended a CARIFORUM Ambassadors meeting. CARIFORUM refers to the body comprising Caribbean ACP States.
At the meeting, Mr. Wheatley discussed the BVI’s desire to engage with CARIFORUM, and to explore participation in their future arrangements with the EU, under the ACP.
He also highlighted financial services as a key area of immediate cooperation going forward, particularly as it concerns Caribbean jurisdictions’ ongoing dialogue with the EU on international tax cooperation.
Mr. Wheatley said of the meetings, “I was well received. I am grateful to both the ACP Secretary General and the CARIFORUM Ambassadors for considering BVI’s interests. I am confident the Territory can make a positive contribution to the activities of both bodies.”
Mr. Wheatley further stated that the EU stakeholder engagement builds on the positions set out by Premier Smith to the UK Government at the first Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations on February 7 in London.
He said, “[Premier Smith] clearly indicated to UK Ministers that the BVI would like to maintain a relationship with the EU and that the ACP, and specifically CARIFORUM, is the most logical alternative.”
The meetings were a part of a Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) mission to Brussels to discuss with EU stakeholders the impact of Brexit on the Caribbean, which Mr. Wheatley joined on behalf the BVI.
In February, Wheatley also attended the 15th Overseas Countries and Territories-European Union (OCT-EU) Forum in Aruba where he headed the BVI delegation on behalf of Premier Smith. At the meeting he advised Economic Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development,Mr. Neven Mimica and senior European Commission officials of the Premier’s interest in BVI involvement in future EU-ACP relations.
BVI’s discussions with the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of Countries and CARIFORUM, are in line with Government’s mandate to strengthen international relationships, in positioning the Virgin Islands for the future.