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BVI calls for closer OECS cooperation

By Government of the British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands, (BVI) – Premier and minister of finance of the British Virgin Islands Dr Natalio D. Wheatley attended the 72nd Meeting of the OECS Authority in Montserrat where he delivered his maiden address at the opening Ceremony. In his address to delegates, premier Wheatley commended the OECS for standing up for democracy and human rights on the international stage.

“I am immensely proud of the way that OECS has taken the international stage at forums such as the United Nations General Assembly to stand up for democracy and human rights. Our voices do carry weight. We have the moral high ground. When we all stand together and speak with one voice, even giants must listen,” premier Wheatley told the audience of prime ministers, ministers, ambassadors and government officials.

He went on to encourage the Member States and Associate Members of the OECS to work more closely together to face their common challenges as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The premier also called for the specific deepening of cooperation between the British Virgin Islands and OECS in key sectors.

“Beyond the solidarity and historical and cultural links that the British Virgin Islands enjoys as a part of the Eastern Caribbean, the government of national unity that I lead wants to deepen our functional cooperation within OECS. There are obvious areas such as regional transportation and tourism on which we remain engaged, but we also want to explore sectoral cooperation in other key areas. For example, we are keen to strengthen trade in agricultural goods between the British Virgin Islands and our partners in the Eastern Caribbean. This would help to satisfy the demand in our economy for more affordable and healthier food options. The big challenge, however, is getting more frequent shipping at reasonable rates to deliver these goods. We are ready to work with OECS on what can be done in this regard,” premier Wheatley said.

In addition, he emphasized that the British Virgin Islands should be involved to the fullest extent possible in the OECS’ South-South cooperation arrangements with Third Countries, and that the British Virgin Islands stands ready to work through OECS to build trade linkages with Africa in the financial services space. He also expressed the need for OECS to help facilitate the British Virgin Islands’ participation in European Union (EU) funded programmes involving the Eastern Caribbean in order to pursue sustainable development and build climate resilience through adaptation and mitigation measures.

In the areas of governance and reform, premier Wheatley highlighted the OECS as a driver of reform and change that the British Virgin Islands can benefit from.

According to premier Wheatley: “Many of OECS’ steps to harmonize sectoral standards and arrangements to support Economic Union are good for the British Virgin Islands in terms of how we go about our own reform efforts. Consumer protection standards is a good example of this.”

Premier Wheatley thanked the Member States and Associate Members of the OECS for their support to the British Virgin Islands, as well as the organisation’s director-general and Secretariat. He also encouraged young people across the Eastern Caribbean to do marine training in the British Virgin Islands.

The 72nd Meeting of the OECS Authority took place from 19-20 October 2022 in Montserrat where the bloc discussed regional transportation, regional integration and other matters. The OECS Authority is currently chaired by premier of Montserrat Joseph E. Farrell.

The Member States of the OECS include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The associate members include Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Montserrat.



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