BRUSSELS, Belgium – As the European Union and United Kingdom officially begin talks on a future relationship, the British Virgin Islands has called for inclusion in future arrangements.
“Today I reiterated to the UK government on behalf of the BVI, our wish to maintain a relationship with the EU that covers trade, environment, development cooperation and policy dialogue. I previously confirmed this position at a recent UK-OT technical roundtable on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Our position in this regard is consistent with that of other Overseas Territories classified as OCTs who also see the EU as a trade and development partner,” said Benito Wheatley, the BVI’s EU representative.
Wheatley also discussed the BVI’s EU priorities with the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica at a courtesy meeting between the Commissioner and British Overseas Territories leaders in the margins of the 16th OCT EU Forum held in Brussels last month.
Among other things, he made the case for preserving current trade benefits that include continued duty and quota free trade in goods, most favoured nation status in trade in services and favourable rules of origin. He also stressed cooperation on environmental issues such as climate change and disaster response.
At the Forum, Wheatley also called on the EU to include Caribbean British Overseas Territories in post-2020 arrangements for development cooperation with partners in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific.
“Post-2020 from a BVI perspective, as a Caribbean OCT, is largely about enhanced development cooperation and coordination between the EU, UK, ACP, ORs and OCTs in our region, which must include the British Overseas Territories regardless of our status post-Brexit,” he said in an official statement made at the meeting.
The BVI’s EU representative also encouraged the EU and UK to be partners with the British Overseas Territories in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but reminded them of the importance of also supporting the services sectors of the OCTs, many of which facilitate international business, particularly in areas such as financial services.
Commenting on the BVI’s relationship with the UK and EU after Brexit, Wheatley said,
“Brexit now requires the BVI to look at both the EU and UK afresh with a view to repositioning ourselves as a partner to continue benefitting from our UK and EU relationships in the future.”
The BVI is currently the co-chair of the OCT/EU Financial Services Partnership Working Party in Brussels represented by Wheatley, as director of the BVI London Office.