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BVI announces task force to study fallout from Brexit

Premier Smith. File photo

Premier Smith. File photo

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has announced that he will establish a task-force to examine the implications Brexit will have for the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Brexit is the process by which Britain is seeking to leave the European Union, which comprises 28 member states primarily located in Europe.

Premier Smith, who is also the minister of finance, yesterday told journalists that he will head the task force, which will also include other government ministers as well as technocrats.

The White Paper on the implications of Brexit for the BVI is expected to be ready before representatives of the territory again meet with members of the British government in June and again in November.

The British government, which is hearing the concerns of the BVI and other British Overseas Territories, is expected to present those concerns during negotiations regarding Brexit.

“In preparation for follow-up discussions in the UK later this year, my government will establish a Brexit task force that will prepare a White Paper on the implications of Brexit for the BVI that will set out the risks and opportunities posed by Brexit,” said Premier Smith during a press briefing at his Road Town offices.

He noted that, during a ‘very productive’ meeting recently held with members of the British government, he highlighted some of the Brexit challenges and opportunities that may arise for the BVI.

“The BVI priorities I set out covered freedom of movement, international trade, and EU funding,” Premier Smith said.

Yachting sector; a weaker  pound

The premier also noted his concern about – among other things – the devaluation of the pound, as well as potential problems for the yachting sector.

“My government continues to study the potential impact of Brexit on our commerce, particularly with respect to our yachting sector. We have a number of European-owned yachts, which are docked in the BVI during the winter months in Europe. My government will share our findings with the UK once research has been completed.”

“I also took the opportunity to highlight the challenges posed to our UK tourism business by the significant drop in the value of the pound, which has made our destination less competitive compared to various other jurisdictions geographically closer to Europe. Some analysts forecast the pound will reach parity with the dollar by the end of the year. This is another reason why we have to urgently improve our airlift capacity so we do not continue to fall behind in the UK and European tourism markets,” Premier Smith said.

Helping with better access China

The premier, in the meantime, explained how the BVI can assist Britain after Brexit.

“UK firms can also benefit from trading through BVI in places like China where we have Memorandum of Understandings on cooperation with the cities of Tianjin and Shenzen that provide access to their special economic zones. In Commonwealth countries in Africa and South Asia where English common law is practiced, BVI corporate structures can also provide UK firms with vehicles by which to invest these emerging economies,” he said.

Premier Smith also noted that the UK, in light of Brexit, is already starting to explore a number of possible trade agreements with Commonwealth countries and other international partners.

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