Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering has led a delegation to London where he will this week hold talks in relation to how Britain leaving the European Union will affect Overseas Territories such as the BVI.
The UK government is hosting the meeting which is being called the Joint Ministerial Council – Exiting the EU Negotiations.
Among other topics to be discussed are disaster management as well as the constitutional relationship between the UK and British Overseas Territories.
A ‘bilateral meeting’ with Britain’s Minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad, is also planned for the high-level political meeting.
Meanwhile, the BVI’s delegation includes Acting Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Dawn Smith and Director of the BVI London Office, Benito Wheatley.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he was ‘pleased’ Dr Pickering will serve as the leader representing the BVI in the meetings, which he described as ‘crucial’.
“We will discuss the UK’s plans for how any adverse impacts on the OT’s created by the UK’s exit from the EU will be mitigated.”
Premier Smith added: “Constitutional matters have clearly come to the fore and the Virgin Islands people and government have objected in the strongest possible terms to the recent passage of the amendment to the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Act.”
The Premier further said during the meeting, the ongoing public registers controversy will be discussed along with the actions that the territory is contemplating.
“We expect a full discussion of our constitutional relationship. The threat to our constitutional rights cannot go unchallenged nor can we ignore the potential repercussions of the UK’s exit from the EU,” he asserted.
The BVI has been at odds with the UK since the British parliament passed a Bill that is forcing the BVI and other Overseas Territories to implement what are known as public registers of company beneficial ownership.
In a farther section of the globe, Dr Smith is embarked on an Asian tour with Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton to promote the interests of the British Virgin Islands.
Premier said the tour is important because more than 40 percent of the financial services sector’s business comes from the Asian region.
The tour will involve meeting with senior officials from the Chinese government to discuss a wide range of new initiatives.
Some of the initiatives include the Micro Business Companies Act and how it can benefit business in China, investment opportunities in the territory for China, as well as other commercial opportunities between the two nations.
The Premier will then lead a meeting with the China Association of Small and Medium Commercial Enterprises, which is said to have up to seven million members.
The Smith-led delegation will also meet with the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs – described as one of the largest associations in China.
The aim of the tour is to build relationships and discuss business proposals.
The Premier said, so far, there have been ‘tremendous levels of interest’ in Hong Kong and Singapore.
“China has been our largest trading partner for twenty-five years and I now look forward to meeting officials to discuss the latest developments in our industry and how these might be mutually beneficial to both China and the BVI,” he said.
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