Deputy Premier Lorna Smith, second from left, speaks during one of several meetings held during the recent trade mission to East Asia. At a press conference yesterday, she said the trip was a success. (Photo: GIS)

The Virgin Islands has been hailed as a “super connector” for financial services in East Asia, Deputy Premier Lorna Smith said after an 11-day trade push last month in China and Singapore.

Ms. Smith, who is the financial services minister, said that the first top-level delegation to the Far East in eight years will boost the territory’s economy.

“The BVI was called a super connector in the Asian region, highlighting our integral role in linking the diverse markets,” Ms. Smith said yesterday during a press conference.

The trip took in key financial centres including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“All those that we spoke to saw a dynamic future for the BVI in the region, both for existing products and services and in new areas such as digital asset management,” she said.

Besides meeting with financial professionals to showcase the VI’s products, she added, the VI delegation had high-level talks with government officials in both countries.

“In addition to the private sector, I was especially pleased with the reception we received from the senior government officials we met,” she said.

Ms. Smith also described an Asian resurgence of interest in the VI.

First leg

The VI delegation included representatives from several financial services firms that also helped sponsor the trade mission, according to government.

During the first leg of the trip, in Hong Kong, Ms. Smith met with officials including the head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the deputy financial secretary, and officials from the British Consulate as part of efforts to bolster financial and economic ties between the VI and Hong Kong.

The VI delegation also hosted a series of panels and presentations organised in conjunction with the territory’s Hong Kong office. About 200 financial industry representatives attended, and VI delegates explained financial products, recent fintech developments, and other topics, according to government.

Also featured was a presentation by Shan Greer, director of BVI International Arbitration Centre.

The visit to Hong Kong was a first by a VI government delegation since 2018, according to government.

The Hong Kong leg of the trade mission culminated in a celebration marking the tenth anniversary of the territory’s Hong Kong office.

Second leg

VI delegates headed to Shenzhen next, where Ms. Smith met with representatives from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade to discuss trade between the city and this territory.

Council Deputy Director-General Haobo Yang, who hosted the meeting, explained the CCPIT’s work in growing the city’s economy and noted the existence of 77 VI-domiciled, Shenzhen-based companies with a combined value of $3 billion in investments, according to government.

Ms. Smith also announced plans for the VI to host its first financial services trade show in Shenzhen in early 2025, with a focus on industries including fintech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, and decarbonisation.

After Shenzhen, the mission travelled to Beijing and Shanghai, where more than 300 financial industry representatives and other professionals took part in two days of discussions about the services the VI has to offer foreign firms, government stated.

The events in China’s two powerhouse cities were attended by representatives of ATU, ICS, Portcullis, Ogier, Maples, Appleby, Bank of Asia, Walkers, TMF, Harneys, Vistra, the BVI International Arbitration Centre, the BVI Financial Services Commission, the Hong Kong office, and BVI Finance, according to government.

The VI delegation also met with officials from China’s Department of Foreign Trade within the Ministry of Commerce for discussions on financial services and trade opportunities.

The delegation ended its tour of East Asia in Singapore.