Good evening – I want to use my 3 minutes to talk about the conduct of foreign affairs, and why it is so important for Jersey that we project a truthful and positive  image of the Island. I had the honour last year of being appointed as the first Minister for External Relations, although the responsibility for foreign affairs is actually shared with the other Ministers. Constitutionally, the UK is responsible in international law for Jersey’s foreign relations, but there was a  governmental agreement a few years ago that Jersey and the UK had separate international identities and that we should seek to develop our own identity. We hold British passports and in most respects our national interests coincide with those of the UK, but a Jerseyman is not an Englishman or a Scot, and sometimes our interests are different. One unfortunate example was the LVCR dispute when the UK withdrew a VAT concession from the Channel Islands but not from the rest of Europe, causing a lot of Jersey employees to lose their jobs and financial losses to a number of Jersey companies including Jersey Post. I like to think that if the Ministry of External Relations had been in existence a few years earlier, that action by the UK government might have been headed off.

The Ministry certainly proved of value last year when out of the blue the French government placed Jersey on a black list of uncooperative countries. Punitive sanctions were due to come into force in January this year, and businesses with French connections and Jersey people with property in France would have suffered severely. A forceful diplomatic response and hard work by officials in my Ministry and the Treasury resulted in Jersey being removed from the blacklist in December 2013.

Projecting a positive and truthful image of Jersey abroad is part of what we do, both from Jersey and our offices in London, Brussels and Caen. Sometimes it is linked to the aspirations of Jersey companies to do business abroad, as in China and the Middle East, and sometimes it is designed to counter the mistaken prejudices about Jersey as a so-called “tax haven”. If we can educate political and business leaders, it will be to Jersey’s advantage.