Press Release
7 December 2018 - 12:29pm

Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, has concluded his annual delegation to London and attended the 20th Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) alongside the other Leaders of UK Overseas Territories (OTs) from December 3 to 6.

Throughout the London visit, and during a number of high-level meetings, the Premier promoted the interests of the BVI and its valuable role in the global economy.   

Starting on Monday, Premier Smith took part in a workshop with UK Government officials on the environment. It was noted in the meeting the c.90% of UK biodiversity is found in the OTs and the importance of working together to protect nature. During the session, the Premier highlighted the specific need to address the damage caused by the hurricanes to the BVI’s mangroves and the need to improve waste management systems.

Monday evening concluded with the Premier hosting a drinks reception at BVI House London, which was attended by Lord Ahmad, Minister of State responsible for the OTs, OT Leaders, members of the business community and other key BVI stakeholders.

Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, the Premier attended the JMC where the UK Government made a number of important commitments:

  • With regards to education, the BVI has received an invitation to the Education World Forum in January 2019 with further commitments to better connect UK-BVI classrooms for global learning opportunities.
  • The UK Government has agreed to support disaster preparedness across the OTs and will host an annual meeting in May of each year, before the hurricane season, to assess plans. Lord Ahmad also commended the Premier for establishing the Recovery and Development Agency in the BVI.
  • The UK Government reinforced its position that it was committed to ensure the best outcome for the OTs in terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and committed that any concerns around EU funding would be included as part of the UK’s post-Brexit funding review.   
  • The UK agreed to maintain dialogue on constitutional reform and acknowledged the need to expand international partnerships and inclusiveness. For instance, the UK Government is encouraging greater participation and integration from the OTs in its GREAT campaign which promotes international trade and business. This includes an open invitation to the BVI to take part in trade missions and the opportunity to promote the BVI’s services.
  • The Premier welcomed the UK’s recognition of the importance of a level playing field and its commitment to work towards the creation of a global standard in relation to public registers of beneficial ownership. The BVI maintains that should this become a global standard then it will comply.

Premier Smith was also invited to the annual Reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Buckingham Palace, where he met with Her Majesty the Queen, as well as other members of the Royal Family. Her Majesty inquired about the hurricane recovery.

After the conclusion of the JMC on Wednesday, the Premier met Sir Henry Bellingham MP and Rt. Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP.  Both MPs are long term friends of the BVI and the Premier briefed them on the recovery and the other current developments.

On Thursday, the Premier hosted a financial services roundtable with members of the private sector. In what was a constructive and informative session, the Premier updated the attendees on the latest developments and progress pertaining to the BVI’s international business and finance centre.

In addition to the roundtable, the Premier met other leading members of the private sector to discuss the recovery and ongoing investment in the BVI.

The Premier concluded his time in London with a bilateral meeting with Lord Ahmad, where both committed to maintaining a prosperous and inclusive partnership.

Commenting, the Premier said, “This has been a hugely valuable and constructive few days. Throughout the mission I have continually promoted the interests of the BVI and our people, whilst also highlighting our important role in the global economy.

“As the UK approaches life post-Brexit, there is a clear opportunity to highlight the role and value the BVI can play in helping the UK with international trade and development. I was also encouraged by the number of conversations about business opportunities between the UK, the BVI and other Overseas Territories and how these can be harnessed most effectively.

“I would like to thank my staff and colleagues for what has been a successful visit and I look forward to returning to the BVI and sharing further updates in due course.” 

Photo Captions:

Photo 1 of 4: Pictured from L to R: Lord Ahmad, Elise Donovan and Premier Smith (provided)

Photo 2 of 4: Pictured Lord Ahmad addressing attendee at a reception at BVI House London (provided)

Photo 3 of 4: Premier Smith pictured as he addresses attendees at the reception at the BVI House London (provided)

Photo 4 of 4: Premier Smith pictured front and centre with other OT Leaders and attendees at the JMC (provided)

Author

Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)

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Tel: 284 468 2730
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Email: gis@gov.vg

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