Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BVI Chief Minister at UK-Caribbean Forum this week

Chief Minister Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith - the Head of BVI Government - is one of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to attend the 5th United Kingdom-Caribbean Forum in Barbados.

Dr. D. Orlando Smith will take part in discussions on international developments and their implications aimed at achieving both medium and long-term development in the Caribbean. The UK-CARICOM Security Cooperation Agreement that provides a plan of action, involves border security, training of security and law enforcement officials, maritime cooperation as well as the establishment of a regional information and intelligence-sharing network will also be on the agenda at these discussions. The forum will also focus on issues such as private sector tourism, trade, energy, disaster preparedness, HIV-AIDS as well as financial services, which is very topical for such offshore country as the British Virgin Islands.

The BVI Chief Minister is going to use the opportunity to raise issues of concerning how the region could forge a better working relationship with the UK.The forum is held every two years. This one will be co-chaired by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Mr. Jack Straw and Foreign Minister of Grenada Mr. Elvin Nimrod, who is incoming Chairman of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was established in 1972, when Commonwealth Caribbean leaders at the Seventh Heads of Government Conference decided to transform the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Common Market. The signing of the Treaty establishing CARICOM was one of the key moments in the history of the Commonwealth Caribbean. CARICOM aims at improving standards of living and work, the full employment of labour, accelerated and sustained economic development, economic relations and expansion of trade with third States, increasing international competitiveness as well as production and productivity.

Since its establishment, CARICOM has substancially expanded. Now it consists of 15 member states (Antigua and Barbud, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago) and 5 associate members (Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands). The British Virgin Islands (BVI) became a CARICOM Associate Member on the 2nd of July 1991.

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