Page 66

A VIEW BEYOND THE HORIZON

BENITO WHEATLEY

The Post-Election International Challenges Ahead For The BVI The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government led by Premier and Minister of Finance Andrew A. Fahie has taken the reigns of state at a time when the British Virgin Islands (BVI) faces unprecedented international challenges that must be strategically addressed to secure the economic and political future of the Territory.

T

he most pressing international issues are the United Kingdom’s (UK) push for an immediate commitment by the BVI to implement a public register of beneficial ownership by 2023; and the European Union’s (EU) insistence that this year the Territory fully implement the economic substance requirements the House of Assembly has legislated for BVI companies that are tax resident in the jurisdiction. These pressures threaten to erode the BVI’s competitive edge as an International Finance Centre (IFC) and places at risk the more than 65% of government revenue generated by the financial services industry. Unfortunately, the BVI’s international challenges do not end there. The looming threat of further UK Parliamentary action to impose policies on the BVI and other Overseas Territories (OTs) without their consent, remains present as evidenced by the recommendations recently made by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) in its report, Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship. The committee calls for the UK to force the OTs to legalise same-sex marriage, abolish Belonger Status as a category of citizenship, and for each OT to permit legally resident persons from the UK and other OTs to vote and run for office. Farther afield as Brexit draws closer, the BVI is poised to lose its political status in the EU as one of the Overseas Countries

64

JULY 2019

and Territories (OCTs) associated with the bloc. Among other things, the BVI will no longer serve as Co-Chair alongside the European Commission of the OCTEU Financial Services Working Party in Brussels where the Territory has been highly effective in its role as a facilitator of policy dialogue with the EU on financial services matters. The BVI will also lose access to EU funding after 2020 for sustainable development projects in areas such as climate change, biodiversity and sustainable energy. At the global economic level, the BVI will eventually feel the latent effects of the United States (US) trade war with China as prices rise on US goods imported by the Territory that are affected by higher tariffs. A protracted trade war also holds the potential for a recession in the US and would undoubtedly affect tourist arrivals to the destination from its largest market.

This assortment of issues are among the current international challenges confronting the Territory. To effectively respond to them, the BVI requires engagement strategies with its major international partners such as the UK, EU and United Nations (UN) to manage the problems that confront the Territory. Longer term, however, the BVI will need a comprehensive international strategy to guide the Territory’s approach to the changing global economic and political landscape. Among other things, such a strategy should include expanding the BVI’s international presence, particularly in North and Latin America while deepening the BVI Asian footprint where new commercial opportunities await the jurisdiction.

Profile for Business BVI

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Advertisement