Leading Sectors For US Exports and Investment - Bahamas Business Guide

Best Prospects For Non-Agricultural Goods and Services:

Tourism Industry

Tourism is the overwhelmingly dominant industry, with more than 80 percent of tourists to The Bahamas coming from the United States. The market for supplies familiar to American tourists is, therefore, predictably large. In certain instances, the Hotels Encouragement Act allows duty-free importation of hotel supplies for several years after the original construction or reconstruction of a hotel or resort.

Vehicles and automobile parts

Although Bahamians drive on the left side of the road, and thus right-hand drive vehicles (such as domestic Japanese and British models) should have a slight advantage, there is no legal restriction against left-hand drive (US Standard) vehicles, and the majority of vehicles on Bahamian roads are American-made. There is a large market for second-hand US vehicles, although these can only be sold through local dealers. Used limousines are particularly prized for use as taxis. Bahamian safety and pollution standards are less restrictive than those in the United States. Import tariffs, while high, are non-discriminatory.

Total Imports for 1996 (in US$): $75,070,343
Total Imports from the US for all types of motor vehicles for 1996(in US$): $62 Million
Medical supplies

There are three main hospitals in The Bahamas (the government-owned hospitals, Princess Margaret in Nassau and Rand Memorial in Freeport, and the privately-owned Doctors Hospital in Nassau). The level of medical care is continuously developing to keep abreast with medical technology. The medical community aims to provide a level of service to treat patients effectively and curtail the numbers of Bahamians who travel to South Florida for medical treatment.

Computers and electronics

The large, modern financial services sector is a particular target for export. The 1996-97 Government Budget reduced import duties on computers and computer parts and consumer electronic appliances. Goods which can be easily serviced either in The Bahamas or in Florida will enjoy a competitive advantage over those which cannot; service agents in The Bahamas must be Bahamian.

Total Imports of computers and electronics for 1996(in US$): US$:97.6 million
Total Imports of electronics for 1996 (in US$): $90,573,720
Total Imports from the U.S. for electronics and computers (in US$):$45.7 million

Foodstuffs and manufactured goods


The best US export opportunities remain in the traditional areas of foodstuffs and manufactured goods; vehicles and automobile parts; hotel, restaurant, and medical supplies; and computers and electronics. Bahamian tastes in consumer products roughly parallel those in the United States, both because of similarities in culture and because the proximity of The Bahamas to the US exposes Bahamians to massive doses of American domestic advertising. Merchants in southern Florida have found it profitable to advertise in Bahamian publications, as the average middle-income Bahamian makes several shopping trips to Florida every year. With approximately 85 of the population being primarily of African descent, there is a large and growing market in The Bahamas for "ethnic" personal care products aimed at the African-American market. Bahamian consumer and safety regulations, where they exist, are based on US models and thus are not a barrier to exports of items suitable for the domestic American market. Most imports in this sector are subject to high but non-discriminatory tariffs.

Manufactured Goods

Total Imports for 1996 (in US$): $101,379,720

Fruits and Vegetables

The Bahamas continues to show weakness in this category. The Ministry of Agriculture imposed a ban on imports of bananas, and permits are required to import certain plants, fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers in an effort to protect the local production. The Ministry has occasionally denied applications to import fruits and vegetables when it determined that a surplus existed in locally-grown products in the same category.

Livestock (Meat)

Most meat produced in The Bahamas is for domestic consumption.

In an effort to protect domestic agricultural producers, the government requires that a permit be granted to import more than 50 pounds of whole chickens or chicken parts, lamb or mutton, or pork legs, shoulders, or butts into The Bahamas. Permit applications have been denied occasionally when the government determined that a surplus existed in locally-grown products in the same category.



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