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Guyana – BVI advances discussion on visa-free travel

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Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dr Natalio Wheatley

GUYANA / BVI, (DPI) – Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dr Natalio Wheatley disclosed that talks have advanced to potentially sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Guyana and BVI for visa-free travel between the two countries, during an interview at the business session at the 46th regular meeting of the conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Monday, at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.

As a result of the close relations between the two countries and the fact that Guyana’s economy has grown due to its oil reserves, there have been requests for the BVI to remove the restrictions on visas to Guyana.

“It only makes sense for us to form stronger economic ties with these nations, especially when you have a nation like Guyana which has so many natural resources, benefits, and advantages that we could benefit from as a territory. Just as how Guyanese nationals have been able to benefit from working from within the BVI economy,” he said.

While noting that he fully supports this endeavour, Dr Wheatley expressed that the obstacles posed by visas prevent countries from forging better economic ties.

“We are discussing a memorandum of understanding that hopefully we would want the BVI and Guyana to sign to speak about the type of relationship that we have…So, certainly, as a part of that MoU, we would see that matter being handled quite speedily,” Dr Wheatley highlighted.

Last July, a 16-member team from the BVI travelled to Guyana to advance talks on commerce, investment, and improved collaboration.

The visiting delegation comprised deputy premier and minister for financial services, labour and trade, Lorna Smith, permanent secretary, Petrona Davies, Junior minister for agriculture and fisheries and trade, Dr Karl Dawson.

Dr Wheatley told DPI that he celebrates the move by the deputy premier who led the mission to Guyana which has so far reaped substantial benefits. Over 1,000 Guyanese are residing in the BVI.

Meanwhile, CARICOM advances efforts to achieve its goals in many areas including food security, premier Dr Wheatley commended the vision and leadership of president Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

“As it pertains to food security. We know that we can be faced with hurricanes [and] climate disasters at any time…We know that the region can do much better in providing food security. The potential and opportunities are there. And certainly, with president Ali’s leadership, I see that we are beginning to hit our targets to provide for better food security,” Dr Wheatley said.

Given Guyana’s phenomenal transformation, Dr Wheatley noted that the BVI is thrilled about the success and prosperity that Guyana has been experiencing recently.

From a political standpoint, Dr Wheatley said the BVI needs allies in the region since CARICOM has many diplomatic partners in the global spectrum. He also disclosed that the BVI wants to get more involved in some of the economic initiatives in the Caribbean Community.

“For instance, air travel…We want to see better air travel. The BVI will benefit from that air travel concerning the fact that we have such a large contingent of individuals from Guyana who are residents in the BVI,” Dr Wheatley underscored.

With president Ali’s announcement of a US$2 million financing towards climate and mitigation adaptation, the BVI leader the proclamation is ‘extremely exciting’ since financing is needed to advance the region’s climate change agenda.

He further emphasised that the region has high expectations for president Ali, considering his impressive track record of leadership and results-oriented approach.

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