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Press Release From Independent Source

OCTA Conference strengthens int’l relations- VI Premier

Left to right: St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Honourable Mathias Sinclair Voges, Curacao Minister Plenipotentiary Honourable Sheldry Osepa, Cayman Islands Premier Honourable McKeeva Bush, OBE, VI Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, and Anguilla Chief Minister Honourable Hubert Hughes. (Photo credit: BVI London Office/ B. Wheatley)
The VI Delegation, left to right: Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, Assistant Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro, Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, Director of the BVI London Office Mr. Kedrick Malone and Senior Political/Public Affairs Officer Mr. Benito Wheatley. (Photo credit: BVI London Office/ B. Wheatley)
The VI Delegation, left to right: Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, Assistant Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro, Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, Director of the BVI London Office Mr. Kedrick Malone and Senior Political/Public Affairs Officer Mr. Benito Wheatley. (Photo credit: BVI London Office/ B. Wheatley)
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI– Representing the Territory’s interests at the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Ministerial Conference, Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, said the event was a success in strengthening the BVI’s relationship with the European Union (EU) and other Overseas Countries (OCTs).

The conference, held on September 25, took place in Ilulissat, Greenland. Premier Smith joined the leaders of 25 other OCTs to discuss green growth and the revision of the EU’s Overseas Association Decision (OAD) that governs the relationship between the EU and OCTs. 

In an interview with the Department of Information and Public Relations, Honourable Smith said, “This year’s Ministerial Conference was successful in that the OCT leaders were able to come together to discuss the important revisions of the OAD, that will undoubtedly affect our relationship with the EU, in the areas of trade and environment among others.”

He continued, “It was very important that the BVI’s presence was felt, and that our voice was heard at the OCTA conference. This Government recognises the significance of not only presenting our position on the OAD, but also to listen to discussions by the other OCT leaders present. VI’s presence also lent itself to this Government’s mission to enhance our relationship with international bodies, such as the EU.”

Following a panel discussion on Green Growth in Tourism and Financial Services, Premier Smith vigorously debated and then signed OCTA’s Political Declaration that was presented to the European Commission by the OCTA Chairman, Premier Kuupik Kleist of Greenland on behalf of all OCTs.

Additionally, Honourable Smith signed the OCTA Administrative Resolution where the VI was unanimously re-elected the vice president of the organisation and also elected vice chairman. As vice chairman, the VI will assume OCTA’s chairmanship at the conclusion of the OCTA Ministerial Conference in Brussels in 2013. The VI will also host the 13th OCT-EU Forum in the Territory in 2014.

To that end, Premier Smith said, “I am pleased that the BVI remains OCTA’s vice president and that we were also elected vice chairman and will assume the chairmanship at the conclusion of the 12th OCT-EU Forum in Brussels next year. In 2014 I look forward to the BVI hosting OCT Leaders and the European Union at the 13th OCT-EU Forum in 2014.”

Following Premier Smith’s speech on the economic and environmental sustainability in the BVI, he then answered a series of questions on the challenges facing OCTs with services-based economies during the question and answer segment.

In response to a question regarding the draft OAD’s inclusion of a financial services chapter and its implications, the Premier responded, “It is up to each jurisdiction to set the tax structure that is best for their economy and country.”
The Premier later commented, “While offshore international financial centres in the Caribbean compete for business, in many ways we are complementary to each other given our specialisations and in fact learn from each other.”

The Premier also heard reports from the Executive Committee of OCTA, including a Financial Services Partnership Working Party (PWP) report delivered by Director of the BVI London Office Mr. Kedrick Malone, who Co-Chairs the PWP alongside the EU on behalf of the VI.

Premier Smith remains in Greenland for the 11th OCT-EU Forum that ends today. In addition to Mr. Malone, the Premier is accompanied by Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, Assistant Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro and Senior Political/Public Affairs Officer Mr. Benito Wheatley.

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