St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): How will Britain leaving the European Union impact on the UK’s Overseas Territories and what kind of benefits can these territories, including those in the Caribbean, gain from Brexit.
Those were among the questions asked by a European Union Committee which held an evidence session on the implications of Brexit for the Overseas Territories.
Those representing the region included Anguilla’s Victor Banks, Dr Orlando Smith of the British Virgin Islands, and Montserrat’s Donaldson Romeo.
“In Anguilla in particular we have been raising the issue about borders, and I think the issue of borders points strongly to the need for Anguilla to have access that is flexible and this consequence it may assist us in building the case for more effective and efficient access facilities like airport expense and port development and so on, so these are things that we are looking for coming out of the Brexit discussions and what could happen as a result of the UK trying to respond to some of those areas that will be affected, one of them is access, one of them is fishing the other one is port development and so forth” Banks said.
“As Britain leaves the EU, as Brexit happens, the UK as I understand it, will be looking for new marketing opportunities and I think that our partnering with countries such as the BVI who has an established record of using corporate structures to facilitate global flows could be an advantage to the UK” said Premier Smith.
Premier Romeo said “With regards to fishing and agriculture Montserrat is enacting legislation and forming plans to develop our fishes and agriculture industry and that will lead to trade in the future. We have very fertile lands, abundance of water, fertile seas, fish, that are untapped because we are not that advanced in our fishing so we hope once those areas are developed that we will provide a significant amount of the fish that is in great demand in our region.”
Premier Romeo also explained to the EU Committee why EDF – European Development Fund assistance is important to Montserrat.
The EDF is the EU's main instrument for providing development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and to overseas countries and territories.
“For instance we still have a hospital that after 18 years is in a remodeled school, that’s woefully inadequate, we have hundreds of evacuees on island still after 18 years who are waiting for permanent hurricane resistant housing, 400 plus on the list, not to mention thousands in the UK many of whom would want to return but cannot because the lack of housing caused them to leave and also to return. It so happens that EU funding in the past few years has helped us to build up to 100 homes partially by grants and doing an entire project and then selling the homes to individuals who are able to through payment have a revolving fund to assist others with building. So the EDF funding was critical and in the next tranche of $18.4 million pounds EDF we will be able to address not just housing but various sectors as I said we have the flexibility and to fill the gaps that are missing.”
The EU committee was also told that Montserrat is badly in need of a seaport.
“We’ve been promised a sea port for 18 years and without safe habour we have ships who turn up with cargo and we wait a week or more before they can discharge their cargo. We also have tourist ships turning up to see a wonderful product, but because of rough seas passengers can’t come ashore. We have a ferry in Antigua that the British government funds, we are now negotiating to have hundreds of tourists who come to Antigua be carried over to Montserrat by ferry to view our product and the tourist ships and their agents in the US and UK are keen to add Montserrat as a product but again, often those ferry passengers cannot leave the dock in Antigua because of the rough seas in Montserrat they cannot be received. So you can understand that with the same EDF tranche of $18.4 million pounds we are now allotting about $5 million pounds of it to the breakwater project to which …has only given a certain percentage, not the entire amount so that is critical to us that we get this funding.”