PREMIER OF THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
CARIBBEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
MARIA’S BY THE SEA HOTEL
Heads of Government
Ladies and Gentlemen
As country host, let me first welcome you to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). We are delighted that you have joined us here on the island of Tortola and I encourage you during your breaks to explore our capital Road Town and other parts of the island. Representatives of my Government are available should you require any assistance.
I also welcome you this morning in my capacity as Co-Chair of this regional conference, which comes at an important juncture in the implementation of the Overseas Association Decision (OAD). Under the 11th EDF the Caribbean’s allocation of the regional envelope has significantly increased and we must together consider how to make the best use of it. By building on past and recent experience in regional programming we are well positioned to do so. We are now to find the most appropriate sector of concentration for all parties, which I am confident we can do.
The buzz word for OCT engagement is regional cooperation and I believe that good progress is being made. Caribbean OCTs took an important step in 2012 when they established the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council (Caribbean OCT Council) to provide a structured dialogue at political level. It is currently the vehicle in place to underpin the legitimacy of decisions taken in the context of the programming process.
As we consider today OCT regional cooperation in the EU context, it is also critical that we examine how we can widen the scope of cooperation to include other regional partners for the mutual benefit of all. Our neighbours, the Outermost Regions (ORs), which include Guadeloupe, Martinique, Sint Martin and French Guiana; and the members of CARIFORUM; are also beneficiaries of EU envelopes and we must consider where it is practical and beneficial for us to work together through joint programming exercises.
The British Virgin Islands is a great supporter of regional cooperation because we have learned through our own experience with the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) project that the region as a whole, gains more when we work together than when we act alone. By working together we are able to pool our knowledge and experience which is of great value.
I would like to conclude by thanking our European partners for organising this regional conference and for their ongoing support to Caribbean OCTs. We are indeed fortunate that in the European Union we have a friend that is sincerely interested in the sustainable development of its partners in our region.
I look forward to our exchanges throughout the day and welcome you once again.
I thank you.