Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, will attend meetings in Beijing this week to promote the interests of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and has asked the Deputy Premier to stand in for high level political meetings in the UK.
Following engagements in Hong Kong and Singapore, Premier Smith’s Asia mission enters its second week, and will see further meetings in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.
The mission is critical as Asia is strategically important for the BVI, particularly as more than 40% of the financial services sector’s business comes from the region.
In Beijing, the Premier will meet with senior officials from the Chinese Government to discuss a wide range of new initiatives including the Micro Business Companies Act and how it can benefit business in China; investment opportunities in BVI for China as well as other commercial opportunities between the BVI and China.
The Premier will then lead a meeting with the China Association of Small and Medium Commercial Enterprises (CASMCE), one of the country’s most influential business organisations with seven million members. The Premier will build on the territory’s relationship with CASMCE and discuss its proposal for a commercial relationship between the BVI and the organisation. He will also meet the General Association of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs (GAZE), one of the biggest associations in China.
Premier Smith said: “The meetings in Hong Kong and Singapore showed a tremendous level of interest in the BVI with over 600 attendees to our events there. 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.”
At the same time in London, Deputy Premier, Dr. Kedrick Pickering, will lead the BVI delegation attending the Joint Ministerial Council – Exiting the EU Negotiations meeting hosted by the UK Government. The main focus of the meeting is on the impact on the Overseas Territories (OTs) of Exiting the European Union, but the meeting has been expanded to including a wider discussion on disaster management, given the approaching hurricane season and the constitutional relationship between the UK and OTs. A bi-lateral meeting with Lord Ahmad, the Minister for the OTs is also planned.
Commenting, Premier Smith said: “I am pleased that Dr. Pickering is deputising for me at these crucial meetings in London.
“We will discuss the UK’s plans for how any adverse impacts on the Overseas Territories created by the UK’s exit from the EU will be mitigated. However, over recent weeks, 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.
Given this we will also discuss this matter and continue to make it clear that not only will we challenge this action but also that 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.”
Dr. Pickering will be accompanied by acting Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Dawn Smith and Director of the BVI London Office, Benito Wheatley.