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BVI seeks way around Brexit at Brussels meeting

Benito Wheatley

Benito Wheatley

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) said it has engaged stakeholders in Brussels on an alternative relationship between the territory and the European Union (EU) after Brexit.

Brexit effectively is the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU.

On March 13, BVI EU representative Benito Wheatley met with – among others – Dr Patrick Ignatius Gomes, who is secretary general of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of Countries.

In their exchange, Wheatley expressed what the government said is the BVI’s keen interest in establishing closer ties with the ACP in their future arrangements with the EU.

Wheatley said Premier Dr D Orlando Smith gave him the mandate to explore different options for the Territory’s relationship with the EU, adding: “The ACP Group is the most logical alternative for the BVI because of our similar relationship with the EU and the Territory’s position in the Caribbean where many ACP countries are located.”

Wheatley also attended a CARIFORUM Ambassadors meeting. CARIFORUM refers to the body comprising Caribbean ACP States.

At the meeting, he discussed the BVI’s desire to engage with CARIFORUM, and to explore participation in their future arrangements with the EU, under the ACP.

Wheatley also highlighted financial services as a key area of immediate cooperation going forward, particularly as it concerns Caribbean jurisdictions’ ongoing dialogue with the EU on international tax cooperation.

He said of the meetings: “I was well received. I am grateful to both the ACP Secretary General and the CARIFORUM ambassadors for considering BVI’s interests. I am confident the Territory can make a positive contribution to the activities of both bodies.”

Wheatley added that the EU stakeholder engagement builds on the positions Premier Smith set out to the UK government in London, at the first Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations on February 7.

He said, “[Premier Smith] clearly indicated to UK ministers that the BVI would like to maintain a relationship with the EU, and that the ACP – and specifically CARIFORUM – is the most logical alternative.”

The meetings were a part of a Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTOmission to Brussels to discuss with EU stakeholders the impact of Brexit on the Caribbean, which Wheatley joined on behalf the BVI.

In February, Wheatley also attended the 15th Overseas Countries and Territories-European Union (OCT-EU) Forum in Aruba, where he headed the BVI delegation on behalf of Premier Smith.

BVI’s discussions with the ACP Group of Countries and CARIFORUM are in line with Government’s mandate to strengthen international relationships, in positioning the British Virgin Islands for the future.

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