To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the Falkland Islands on the effect of the (a) covid-19 pandemic and (b) negotiations for the UK's future relationship with the EU on the (i) economy, (ii) wool industry and (iii) fishing industry in that Overseas Territory.
8 June 2020
The UK Government is firmly committed to supporting the Falkland Islands and all of the Overseas Territories in dealing with Covid-19. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development are leading a cross-Whitehall effort to provide bespoke support to the Territories. For the Falkland Islands specifically, the UK has procured and transported medical supplies, ventilators and oxygen generation facilities, as well as the necessary equipment to develop an on-island testing capability. This has been supported by facilitating access to UK medical expertise through Public Health England. To support the Falkland civilian population and the British military base on the islands, a military clinical team of six personnel has also been sent to the main hospital on the islands.
Economic management is devolved to the Falkland Island Government, who have put various measures in place to support their economy through the crisis. Fishing has been mostly unaffected thanks to the conclusion of the season before the peak of the virus, and the Falkland Island Government has offered to buy any unsold wool this year at pre-crisis prices. In addition, a local business support package has been put in place, modelled on the UK package.
I am in regular contact with the political leaders of the Falkland Islands to understand the impact the virus is having on both public health and the economy, to ensure they are receiving support from the UK where needed.
We are seeking a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU and want to have the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade with our European neighbours. We have been engaging closely with the Falkland Islands on their interests in these negotiations and have been representing these robustly in negotiations.