EU Relations with British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a British OCT. The territory counts 47 islands, 16 of which are inhabited. The capital is Road Town (on the island of Tortola). The total population of the BVI is estimated at 23.552 (2007 July). The financial services industry is of great importance to the BVI economy. Per capita GDP stands very high at $41,700 (2006 estimate).
The economy is highly dependent on tourism, generating an estimated 45% of the national income. An estimated 820,000 tourists, mainly from the US, visited the islands in 2005. In the mid-1980s, the government began offering offshore registration to companies wishing to incorporate in the islands, and incorporation fees now generate substantial revenues. Roughly 400,000 companies were on the offshore registry by yearend 2000. The adoption of a comprehensive insurance law in late 1994, which provides a blanket of confidentiality with regulated statutory gateways for investigation of criminal offenses, made the British Virgin Islands even more attractive to international business. Regarding transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, the British Virgin Islands committed to improving transparency and establishing effective exchange of information in tax matters. Livestock raising is the most important agricultural activity; poor soils limit the islands' ability to meet domestic food requirements. Because of traditionally close links with the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands have used the US dollar as their currency since 1959.
The UK remains responsible for foreign affairs, defence, internal security and the public service. In other areas, executive power is exercised at island level. The current Chief Minister is Ralph T. O'NEAL (since 23 August 2007). The major political parties are the Virgin Island Party (VIP 45.2%) and National Democratic Party (NDP 39.6%) in opposition. Independents account for 15.2%. The last elections were held 20 August 2007 (next to be held in 2011). There is a genuine parliamentary democracy in the BVI.
External and regional environment
The BVI being an OCT, they do not fully participate in the regional integration process. The BVI are however an associate member of CARICOM.
Relations with the EU
The BVI are not eligible for territorial allocations under the 9th EDF or the 10th EDF due to their high per capita GNP (which exceeds the Community average).