BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — British Virgin Islands diplomat Najan Christopher has welcomed confirmation from CARIFORUM director general Percival Marie that the BVI is eligible for associate membership in the regional body that is tasked with engaging in policy dialogue with the European Union on behalf of a number of Caribbean states.
The confirmation came at a CARIFORUM regional consultation in Barbados from April 11-12, which focused on establishing an effective platform for dialogue between CARIFORUM and French Caribbean Outermost Regions (ORs) and British and Dutch Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
“We welcome that associate membership is open to the BVI. This status would give us a more meaningful status in CARIFORUM whereby we can participate in the Caribbean’s policy dialogue with the EU and regional coordination. At the moment we remain an observer,” Christopher said.
According to the BVI government, the BVI will likely no longer be an OCT after Britain exits the EU in March 2019. In response, the government is seeking to replicate the BVI’s current relationship with the EU through CARIFORUM and other regional mechanisms.
Christopher, who is the BVI’s diplomatic lead in the region, said of the regional consultation, “My participation supports government’s policy response to Brexit. We are seeking to preserve as many of the existing benefits the BVI currently enjoys as an OCT with the EU. We also see a great benefit in the prospect of coordinating on EU issues with our neighbours in the region. Our next step is to assess the requirements of CARIFORUM associate membership in preparation to upgrade our status.”
She also highlighted that the BVI government will remain engaged with CARIFORUM and follow-up on the outcomes of the regional consultation.
Christopher is the BVI government’s assistant secretary for external affairs in the Premier’s Office. She is responsible for Caribbean affairs and covers CARIFORUM, CARICOM, OECS and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). She is also the BVI’s OECS commissioner and diplomat to CARICOM.
CARIFORUM is the Caribbean Forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. Its member states include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.