OTs: Overseas Territories seek to expand international trade ahead of Brexit.

Added on 01/10/2019


As published on, Monday 8th July, 2019.


As the UK faces the uncertainties and the very real challenges that life outside the European Union will bring, the UK’s overseas territories (OTs) are looking for ways to deepen regional and global trade.

The Cayman Islands Government and the UK Government held a joint trade summit aimed at starting the conversation for OTs to broaden trade between the Overseas Territories (OTs) and the UK Government.

Heads of government for the OTs gathered at the Kimpton Seafire Resort in Grand Cayman on June 27 and 28 to discuss opportunities and mechanisms to grow trade between the OTs and the rest of the world.

The UKOT International Trade Summit featured panel discussions on FinTech, tourism, healthcare opportunities and blue economy and how OTs could engage with the UK for trade and promotion as well as with the Commonwealth through the Enterprise and Investment Council.

Premier and Minister of Finance Sharlene Cartwright Robinson led a delegation from the TCI and participated during two of the panel discussions at the summit.

During her speech, she spoke specifically on trade opportunities in the TCI for luxury and ecotourism and healthcare opportunities which could be diversified and further exploited.

Member of the TCI delegation and CEO of Invest Turks and Caicos, James Bursey was also invited to attend the conference.

He made a presentation as well on the Commonwealth Enterprise Investment Council (CWEIC).

The premier in a post summit statement said: "The information presented was well received.

"OTs shared information on successful trade opportunities and working trade and investment models that have been implemented and effective in the various territories.

"On the final day of the summit BOTs pledged to improve their working relationships and discussed an association between BOTs and the Commonwealth Enterprise Investment Council.”

The TCI delegation consisted of the premier, James Bursey, CEO of Invest Turks and Caicos, Ronlee James, Executive Director for the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs, Arthur Been, Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance, Tracy Knight and Kimo Tynes, head of the TCIG London office and consular officer, and Nadidja Parker, communications coordinator with the Office of the Premier.

Delivering the keynote address at the meeting, premier of the Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin explained that the inaugural summit was an opportunity for OTs to showcase what they have to offer.

Leaders were also able to also discuss trade opportunities as they look at ways to diversify their respective economies and take advantage of the opportunities that will be afforded after Brexit.

McLaughlin said the time is ripe for OTs to start thinking about the next stage in the development of their respective relationship with the UK.

"Certainly, this event, the first international trade summit organised between the UK and the overseas territories, marks a significant milestone in the continued development of our relationship,” he added.

He stressed that as the UK itself faces both the uncertainties and the very real opportunities that life outside the European Union will bring, it is crucial for OTs to explore other avenues for trade.

"The secretary of state was generous enough to invite me to lead a delegation to the Great Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong last year and I confess that experience was a real eye-opener for me.

"I saw first-hand the potential for a dynamic and creative partnership between the UK and ourselves in the territories.”

He urged OTs to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that will come after the British exit the European Union.

"The UK has shown itself to be willing to open doors for us and to offer support and expertise but it is down to us in the territories to put ourselves in a position to exploit the opportunities that our membership of the UK family brings.

"In Cayman we have responded by establishing our own new Ministry of International Trade and will we be opening an Asia office in Hong Kong early in the New Year.

"Each of you will no doubt be thinking about your own response to the opportunities that the future will bring.”

He said the trade summit is designed to be a catalyst for this thinking as OTs develop a mutual understanding of both the current picture and of the key areas for potential development.

"So as we think about what the relationship between the United Kingdom and the overseas territories might become, I urge us to think in these terms.

"We come from a shared history, cemented by our common values and our loyalty to the Crown.

"We have shown the resilience and flexibility to adapt and develop our relationship over many decades.

"We share an ambition for mutual growth and for the future prosperity of our people.”

McLaughlin stressed that the OTs are strongest when they take a unified approach.

"The next two days will, I believe, develop our understanding of how and where we might utilise that strength for the benefit of all of our people.”

Brexit is due to happen on October 31 after the EU’s decision to delay the UK’s departure twice, from March 29 and April 12.

In the British government’s framework document on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the overseas territories get a passing reference.

"The UK will be seeking specific arrangements for the Crown dependencies, Gibraltar and the other overseas territories.

"This will ensure an appropriate and beneficial future relationship across the UK family, taking into account the Crown dependencies’ and overseas territories’ existing relationships with the EU, while upholding their British sovereignty.”

Currently the EU provides funds for a range of services including marine biodiversity, education and border security for many OTs. These programmes have a 2020 expiration date.

Beyond that, OTs remain unsure about where the money will come from to continue these initiatives.