Caribbean News

Statement by the Premier of the Virgin Islands (British) on Regional Trade and Opportunities

Road Town, October 24, 2019 – Tortola – Premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Andrew A Fahie, has signaled his intention to strengthen ties with the rest of the Caribbean Community, noting that there will be business and job opportunities in his country due to an aggressive development thrust.

Premier Andrew Fahie

In a statement on October 23, Fahie called on local and regional entrepreneurs and innovators to use apply their creativity to identify the business opportunities that will be emerging as development on the British Overseas Territory takes off, so that they can tap into those opportunities.

“My message to local and regional business interests is to prepare yourselves. If your venture requires a foreign partner, find one now and start the process. If you are foreign based and you have something the BVI needs, make your BVI connection. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of opportunities for getting involved,” Fahie said.

Two years after being devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the BVI has made significant strides in recovery and is working on a development programme that will make its infrastructure, economy and people more resilient to sudden and dramatic events in the tourism and financial services industry, which are its two main economic engines. Fahie, whose Virgin Islands Party (VIP) won the general election last February, is looking to increase the country’s revenue from those two sectors, while encouraging the development of new industries that will diversify the BVIs economy.

The implementation of economic substance legislation, coupled with the BVI’s tourism strategy, is driving up rivals into the country. The BVI Government has also indicated its intention to diversify its tourism thrust into areas such as hosting meetings, conferences, training, education, medical services and other sporting events besides its annual regattas.

This growth is driving a demand for goods and services, and Fahie says while his primary goal is to ensure that BVIslanders and local businesses benefit as much as possible from this activity, excess demand will have to be supplemented with help from outside – starting with the BVI’s CARICOM neighbours who face similar challenges and circumstances.

“Our CARICOM neighbours have a lot to offer in terms of manufactured goods, professional services, skilled labour and partnerships that will have mutual benefits. The Caribbean region is very strong if our countries and our people work together,” Fahie said, adding that he intends to invite regional government and business leaders to examine the dynamics of opening up intra-regional trade.

“We will be reaching out to the leaders in the region and business organizations to let them know that the BVI is serious about doing business and we are open for business. We need lumber, aggregates, construction materials, foodstuff and other products, which can be easily accessed by establishing an ocean freight trade route from Guyana, through Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent, Dominica, the Virgin Islands and also Jamaica. A rising tide will lift all boats, and the BVI will take the lead in developing this,” he said.

He added, “Our mission today must be to spark a transformation locally and regionally and create an environment where all of our people enjoy a high quality of life, characterized by a feeling of reasonable happiness, comfort and security; where they occupy sustainable jobs in the careers of their choosing; where our people, especially the young ones, have easy access to the opportunities for education, training and development so that they can pursue their dreams; and where they can get high value for their earnings.”

The BVI, known as “Nature’s Little Secrets”, is a cluster of about 50 islands and cays located just east of Puerto Rico. It has the reputation of being one of the more prosperous states in the Caribbean and Latin America region. It boasts a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.027 billion (2017 est.) with an estimated per capita GDP of $34,246. As one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, the BVI attracts over 1 million tourists annually including about 400,000 overnight visitors, due to its pristine beaches, scenic locations, and its ideal location for sailing, snorkeling and diving. The BVI is considered the sailing capital of the world and a very popular destination for Old Years’ Night parties.

Release: BVI Government

Photo Caption: Road Town, Tortola two years after hurricane Irma

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