ROAD TOWN, BVI – The proposed trade mission to visit Africa in November by British Virgin Islands premier and minister of finance, Dr Orlando Smith, and a team from BVI Finance has been postponed until early next year.
Smith will instead direct all necessary resources towards supporting the territory’s financial services sector after a further review of the timeline relating to the EU’s assessment of international finance centres.
The Code of Conduct Group within the European Union’s ECOFIN Council, responsible for EU economic and taxation policy, created a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was published in December last year. The council decided in March of this year that it wanted more information from the BVI about tax arrangements based on its criteria.
Since then, the British Virgin Islands government has continued to constructively engage with relevant EU officials to ensure that they have the information they require.
“I have asked Elise Donovan, our representative to the UK and the EU, to redouble our efforts in Brussels and to leave no stone unturned in making our case. Ms Donovan was a key member of the delegation which was due to participate in a mission to three African countries in November, and it is vital that she remains in the UK to focus on the EU,” Smith said.
Interim executive director of BVI Finance, Lorna Smith, said that, although the team was looking forward to embarking on the mission to Africa, BVI Finance agreed that the BVI’s focus and firepower needs to be directed toward the issue involving the EU.
“We have spoken to our consultants for the Africa mission, Africa Expert Network (AXN), who understand and fully support this position and have agreed to put a hold on the progression of this mission until next year. We must continue to put all our efforts into ensuring that the BVI remains a sound, reliable and transparent jurisdiction,” she added.
The 2018 BVI Africa Trade Mission was planned for November 5 to 16 and would have covered three countries and four of Africa’s major business hubs namely: Cape Town, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Abuja, Nigeria and Lagos, Nigeria.