In strengthening its international relations, the Virgin Islands (VI) will host the Premier of Greenland Mr. Kuupik Kleist, who is visiting the Territory in his capacity as Chairman of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), of which the VI is a member.
The June 20 to 22 visit is the first leg of a regional familiarisation mission being carried out by Premier Kleist, designed to help inform him about the British and Dutch OCTs in the Caribbean.
While in the Virgin Islands, Premier Kleist will meet with Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE to discuss European Union (EU) – OCT relations. The Greenland premier’s visit to the VI will also serve as an opportunity for the Premier to reiterate the VI’s support for the EU’s revision of the Overseas Association Decision (OAD) and emphasise the need to revise the eligibility criteria for territorial funding that currently excludes the VI and Cayman Islands. The existing OAD, which gives OCTs free market access to the EU, will expire in 2013.
More importantly, matters discussed during Premier Kleist’s visit will help shape the agenda of the upcoming OCTA Ministerial Conference to be held in Greenland this September, under the theme, “Green Growth”.
In January, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering led the VI delegation to the last OCTA Ministerial Conference in Brussels, Belgium. Representatives from the BVI London Office attend the regular meetings of OCTA in Brussels.
Honourable Pickering will also meet with Premier Kleist to discuss the Territory’s plans for “green growth” or “greening” the economy, which, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, refers to “the process of changing businesses and infrastructure for better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using less natural resources, creating less waste, and reducing social disparities”. In addition, the VI’s support for the inclusion of all OCTs in future funding envelopes and programmes related to environment will be communicated.
The Greenland premier will also meet with Cabinet this week. Premier Kleist is scheduled to leave the Territory this Friday, and will go on to visit Dutch OCTs Aruba and Curacao.
The VI serves as Vice Chair of OCTA; Chair of the OCTA Partnership Working Party, a working group on financial services; and the Deputy Regional Authorising Officer (DRAO) for the Caribbean members of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), of 15 million Euros, equivalent to over 20 million US Dollars.
As the DRAO, the Territory is charged with managing the 10th EDF’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Programme; intended to build the capacity of SME intermediaries, such as Small Business Bureaus, Trade Departments and Chambers of Commerce, to help them better service SME’s.
The Virgin Islands is one of 22 members of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA), established in 2003. OCTA is designed to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information for the mutual benefit of members, recommend action to EU member governments, develop effective working relationships with EU institutions and defend the collective interests of members.