ONE-ON-ONE PRESS STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
June 21, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
I thank you for being here this morning. Today, I wish to speak on my Asia Mission Trip.
Last Sunday we returned home from a grueling but very productive mission to five cities in Asia over a two week period.
As I said elsewhere, BVI as a financial services jurisdiction remains in a leading position, comfortably ahead of our competitors in the Asian market.
We met with well over eleven hundred persons at our various events including five mini conferences in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai, at various Government Departments in Beijing, business associations both in Beijing and Hangzhou, the principals of various major business entities and individuals.
In Hong Kong we were also pleased to meet with Andrew Heyn, British Consul General there and with Ms. Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
China is the BVI’s biggest market, and we were pleased to visit these cities with a population of well over 50 million.
The trade mission continues to show that there is tremendous potential for the BVI in Asia and that our clients in Asia continue to be keen to use our traditional as well as new products for their various activities ranging from wealth management, to joint ventures, to mergers and acquisitions, to property development, to listings, indeed the whole gamut of financial management.
A highlight of the Mission was of course the opening of Bank of Asia (BVI) at an event where over 500 business leaders and Government officials were in attendance.
Earlier in the day we toured the bank’s premises which hires some 70 persons including the BVI staff.
From Hong Kong, we travelled to Singapore where we had a half day of high-level briefings and presentations from digital and FinTech leaders including the Chief Operating Officer of ANZ Bank, Director of the FinTech & Innovation Group of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and with financial and FinTech experts who are developing start-up FinTech companies.
We also visited Crimson Logic Pte Ltd, which among other activities is bringing the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court into the digital era, starting with three countries, including the BVI.
We then travelled to Beijing, and met with Madame Li Shaoling, President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and discussed various matters including expanding Chinese tourism to the BVI.
While in Beijing we also met with senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce.
They welcomed the news that Chinese would no longer require a visa to visit the BVI.
We also discussed a number of economic matters such as the planned expansion of Beef Island Airport and upcoming major tourism and financial services activities in China.
Later that day Elise Donovan, Director of BVI House Asia and Carson Wen signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chairman and CEO of the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME) to develop a business relationship between CASME and BVI. With seven million members, CASME is one of China’s most influential business organizations.
In Hangzhou I was pleased to speak to a gathering of 130 Chinese entrepreneurs of the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs.
What made this special was that these men and women were from that city but had established businesses all over China and much further afield using BVI companies.
I took the opportunity to outline to the entrepreneurs BVI innovations, such as the new Micro Business Company, the new Limited Partnership Act and the introduction of Bank of Asia, the BVI’s bank in the cloud.
Hangzhou has become famous as the home of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, and is as equally famous as China’s Silicon Valley.
On the final day in Shanghai over 130 persons attended our mini conference. Delegates as at all meetings covered topics such as the BVI Advantage, the opening of Bank of Asia in BVI, new BVI products such as the Micro Business Company Act, the new Limited Partnership Act, and how the BVI can become more involved with the Belt and Road Initiative, a multibillion dollar project introduced by the Chinese government.
Earlier in the day we met with the senior management of China UnionPay, China’s largest integrated payment and information service company, to discuss a possible business relationship built around FinTech and digital payment services.
The mission was an unqualified success: the industry in that region remains firmly committed to this jurisdiction and its offerings.
We wanted to ensure that BVI continues to promote greater networking among the region.
I was very pleased to lead the delegation, and found the information received and relationships forged as having tremendous potential benefit to this Territory.
Furthermore, these discussions no doubt cemented in my mind the need for my Government to continue to push for significant advancement in policies that facilitate the improvement of our capability and capacity.
As a Government, we will continue to do what is necessary to strengthen and build our tourism sector and our international relations so that Virgin Islands can further enhance our financial services and tourism brand in the regional and global economy.
This is important as our efforts as a Territory continues to be centred on the vision that we are collectively building the BVI STRONGER, SMARTER, GREENER, BETTER.