Premier and Deputy Premier discussed high-priority issues with UK Government at Joint Ministerial Council Forum in London
(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Wednesday, 24 November 2021) UK Ministers, Overseas Territory(OT) elected leaders and designated representatives gathered in London, United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 November for the first in-person Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) since 2018. The Turks and Caicos Islands delegation was led by the Premier Honourable Charles Washington Misick and consisted of the Deputy Premier Honourable Erwin Jay Saunders along with Tracy Knight, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government representative in London.
Delegates attended a total of eight sessions over the course of the two-day plenary on matters relating to the environment and oceans, the International Maritime Organisation (III) Code Audit, the UK-OT relationship, economic resilience, security and law enforcement, health and inclusivity.
The UK set out its commitments to the Overseas Territories in the paper Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy which articulated the collaboration with the Overseas Territories to address a variety of challenges including climate change, investment in physical infrastructure and marine protection.
The UK and the Overseas Territories agreed a joint communiqué which outlined and affirmed collaborative commitments to improve co-ordination across UK Government departments and conduct regular dialogue on relevant policy issues.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and other external elements, pose a serious threat to the small and fragile economies of Territories, the UK Government reiterated continued partnership to strengthen health services in Territories through existing and new links with the UK; and the exploration of methods to diversify Territory economies and bolster resilience and investment; and assured that the interests and needs of the Overseas Territories will be considered when creating policies and programmes that will promote sustainable economic development.
The UK Government also shared information on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) which supports and delivers activity including the Justice Programme and Border Security Programme in the Territories to provide funding and other assistance; and to fortify and modernise law enforcement capabilities in crime-fighting and border protection.
To enhance the safety and security of citizens, law enforcement capabilities and increase capacity in the Territories, the UK Government and the Overseas Territories agreed to share information and best practices and take a multiagency strategic approach across Governments to mitigate crime.
It was also agreed that the UK would consider new maritime technologies that might assist the Overseas Territories in the management of issues involving energy and waste.
On Thursday, 18 November the Premier and Deputy Premier held bilateral talks with the Right Honourable Amanda Millings, Minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories in the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on a range of issues pertinent to the TCI.
The Premier, remarking on the conclusion of the Council Conference stated, “The Turks and Caicos Islands continues to perform favourably overall, in comparison to our competitors in the region; however, there is much to benefit from and improve upon through close collaboration with the British Overseas Territories (BOTs). There seems to be a genuine interest by Minister Amanda Milling, OT Minister in the FCDO, to listen and use UK ministries and departments to assist the OTs to modernize systems and improve efficiency.
In our bilateral meetings with Minister Milling, all the representations made by TCIG were agreeably received and working groups will be established to follow through. These include: the process to escalate the delivery of the Providenciales International Airport Redevelopment; the resolution to TCI’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with its neighbours; the establishment of border control, maritime surveillance and policing; de-risking of certain TCI economic sectors; the introduction of biennial budgeting; and the delivery of e-governance”.
At a special event at during the JMC, delegates and students from the Overseas Territories, including Mr. Keanu Been of TCI, had the opportunity to meet and hear from His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge on the need to tackle climate change.
While in London, the Premier and Deputy Premier also met with the Turks and Caicos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group, Chaired by Alicia Kearns MP. The TCI All Party Parliamentary Group consists of Members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords with an interest in the Islands. The group champions the Islands in Parliament, raising issues of concern and holding HMG to account when required.
The JMC is the highest forum for political dialogue and consultation between the UK and elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. The aim of the annual conference is to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest and provide a setting for the exchange of views on political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government.