Premier opens diplomatic convocation

Delegates gather at Wednesday’s ‘Pre-JMC’ meeting at the Kimpton Seafire Resort. - Photo: Submitted

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin set the stage Wednesday morning for several days of diplomatic discussions with international leaders converging upon Grand Cayman.

In his remarks kicking off the ‘Pre-JMC’ meeting at the Kimpton Seafire Resort, the premier emphasised the need for British Overseas Territories to unite behind common positions on a range of topics in advance of November’s Joint Ministerial Council in London, while also noting that fundamental conditions of that future meeting are, at this time, unknown.

“When we get to London in November, there will be a new prime minister with his own Cabinet, and so potentially the players that we now deal with may very well be changed,” McLaughlin said.

“What we do not know, as yet, is whether the October deadline for Brexit will have been met, and so we can only watch and wait as the scenarios continue to play out and work to ensure that whatever the outcome, we in the Territories are able to benefit from opportunities presented,” he said.

Topics on Wednesday’s agenda included a joint Caribbean overseas territories-wide oil spill clean-up strategy, oceans policy, fintech and Brexit. A pair of discussion sessions were to focus on the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee report, which recommended the British government’s direct intervention on hot-button issues in the territories, such as same-sex marriage and enhanced electoral rights in the territories for British citizens.

Trade Summit

Following Wednesday’s Pre-JMC gathering, the inaugural UK Government and Overseas Territories Trade Summit is set to take place on Thursday and Friday, co-hosted by Premier McLaughlin and British Overseas Territories Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, who was to arrive in Cayman Wednesday evening.

The trade summit agenda includes speeches and panels featuring local, regional and international government officials, plus presentations from private industry, including the Michelin Guide and Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP. Also set to speak are Health City founder Dr. Devi Shetty and Cayman Finance CEO Jude Scott on opportunities in healthcare and fintech, respectively.

Among the trade summit participants are the elected leaders of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Jamaica, UK leaders

On Friday, Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness is scheduled to arrive in Cayman to engage in bilateral discussions with Lord Ahmad.

Also arriving Friday are members of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for the Cayman Islands – MPs Sir Graham Brady, Sir Michael Fallon and Lord Northbrook, who are visiting in order to learn about Cayman, but also to participate in the 60th anniversary celebrations of Cayman’s written Constitution.

Lord Ahmad’s three-day visit coincides with the summit and the arrival of British naval ship RFA Mounts Bay, which will perform a training exercise on Seven Mile Beach on Friday.

In his remarks Wednesday morning, the premier praised Lord Ahmad and said he hopes that, regardless of the outcomes of the UK prime ministerial contest and Brexit, that Lord Ahmad continues as overseas territories minister.

“I think we can all agree that he has done a stellar job over the past two years and that he has a shown willingness to fight the establishments when needed on behalf of the people in our territories,” Premier McLaughlin said.

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