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Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 16 November 2016

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Baroness Anelay of St Johns), has made the following written ministerial statement:

On 1 and 2 November, I chaired the fifth meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London. The council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The key themes of discussion at this year’s council were the implications of the UK leaving the European Union, international trade and building the economic development of the territories, anti-corruption and beneficial ownership, governance, human rights and child safeguarding, climate change, pensions and health. Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development, Exiting the European Union, International Trade, Health, Work and Pensions, and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as the Solicitor General, attended the discussions. The Minister for Europe and the Americas, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan), met the Member of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly. Territory leaders also met the Foreign Secretary.

The council agreed a communiqué which identified priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead. On the important issue of implications for the overseas territories of the UK’s exit from the European Union, we agreed to take forward future engagement through a new framework, the UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council on European Negotiations (JMC-OT EN), to meet for the first time in the first quarter of 2017. Gibraltar will engage separately with the UK on EU exit issues given its different status under the EU treaties. We also agreed a shared ambition for a new UK-overseas territories economic partnership, in particular to take the priorities of the overseas territories into account as the UK looks to establish future trade and investment arrangements with the wider world and to explore the inclusion of the overseas territories in future UK bilateral investment treaties.

The communiqué reflects the commitment of the Governments of the overseas territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: “The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability”.

In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government Departments in implementing the commitments in the communiqué.

A copy of the communiqué has been published on the website: overseas-territories-joint-ministerial-council-2016-communique.

I have arranged for the communiqué to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.