The Territory is participating in a regional study on diversification of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
The study was launched on November 26, 2015, and is being conducted by the European Union funded Caribbean Overseas Small and Medium Enterprises (COSME) Programme.
It is designed to determine the extent to which the economies of the Caribbean OCTs need diversification and provide concrete recommendations to do so. Consultants are A-to-Z Consultants, with key experts Dr. Noel Watson and Tamira La Cruz, MBA.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE welcomed the initiative and stated that it is aligned with his Government’s economic strategy to diversify the long term sustainability of the current and emerging sectors of the economy.
Premier Smith added that it is vital to create effectiveness and build capacity in the Territory’s human capital to improve their skill set and education, as well as training them to help reduce the economic volatility of the British Virgin Islands.
The Premier said that through the rebranded Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs, the Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to promoting a vibrant, diversified economy to empower the people of the Territory and incorporate their business ideas into all sectors of the economy.
The Honourable Premier further added that the National Business Bureau of the department was revived to provide much needed financial and technical support to new and emerging BVI businesses.
Consultants Dr. Watson and Ms. La Cruz are from the region and have extensive experience with regional economic development in CARICOM, CARIFORUM and the OCTs. They will consult with stakeholders in all OCTs, benchmark the performance of the countries based on hard data, provide recommendations and develop a system for the structured sharing of best practices of small states in general and the OCTs in particular.
Additionally, the smaller OCTs will be assisted with developing their own diversification and other economic development strategies. The focus of the recommendations will be to highlight opportunities for SMEs defined as companies employing up to 50 persons, or generating annual revenues up to US three million dollars.
The objective of COSME is to improve the competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises in the British, Dutch and French OCTs by facilitating an enhanced business enabling environment. This will be done through appropriate policies, support to Business Support Organisations and Small and Medium Enterprises and increased efforts in collaboration and trade between the OCTs, the rest of the Caribbean and Europe. The beneficiary countries include Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, St. Barth’s and Turks & Caicos Islands. For more information, visit www.cosmeprogramme.org.