Bahamas Preparing To Join WTO

Friday 05th, November 2010 / 09:12 Published by

With The Bahamas preparing to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade economist Hank Ferguson says that the country needs to be prepared for how it will be impacted.

“We are joining. Your responsibility at this point is to figure out what is the implication on your business? What is the implication for Grand Bahama?” Ferguson pointed out.

He added that in 1995 every Caribbean country joined the WTO, but The Bahamas was slow to act and we are now the only country in the western hemisphere that is not a member of the 153 member strong organization.

“They joined for free, they got the benefit of technical assistance and they had requisite supports to deal with the adjustments to a freer trade environment,” Ferguson noted.

The Bahamas on the other hand because of its reluctance to join the organization was left to fend for itself when the country was blacklisted several years back leaving the prime minister scrambling from country to country in attempts to secure a meeting to have the situation rectified.

“We didn’t belong to any forum that gave him access to the full OECD,” Ferguson said.

However, he added that the prime minister of Barbados which was also blacklisted was able to call the country’s representative in Geneva to meet with the necessary bodies to handle the matter because they were a part of an organized forum.

Ferguson said The Bahamas stands to benefit from joining the organization which is grounded behind the principals of free trade.

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3 Comments on “Bahamas Preparing To Join WTO

  • BTW the author missed me the the question on our membership in 1995 – We didnt join because it probably didnt make sense for us to join – The agreement then was about goods and the export of goods – We were not producing very much – And Our only major goods exports were covered under the Lome Conventions and then Cotonou – So Bacardi Rum and our fisheries exports entered Europe Duty free and quota free – So there may not have been a compelling reason to join – So no, we werent slow – it wasnt as relevant as it is today with the coverage of services – I am certain I said this at the meeting as well – But given that this has happened more than once – I may have to try harder to stay on topic and not confuse my press with detail or opinion

    Reply
  • @Eugene,

    I am indeed reading them and quite aware of what technical assistance is and has been made available to this country since my return. And for your information we have not gotten assistance from neither Carib/Can nor have we gotten any direct assistance since the dismantlement of the FTAA and the American Hemispheric Cooperation Programme – So to be clear NO technical assistance with regard to matters of trade or trade adjustment under the CBI nor CaribCan. Now that we have established your expert opinion – I will comment briefly on the article.

    The piece is indeed misleading and it makes me cringe that this is what the reporter left the meeting with – Please note carefully the remarks in quotation versus the authors interpretation. The author got elements of some of examples but misunderstood the major points made – The blacklisting example was circa 2000/2001 and prior to the imperative for the multiple TIEA’s be signed – Barbados indeed was proactive in the recent efforts but then, they like us had very few TIEA’s and they like us were not aggressively using their foreign policy as a means to advance their trade policy – In the past decade this has changed and I am not sure our approach is the same as theirs.

    They have become aggressive and utilizing forums, including the WTO to advance a national agenda – same can be said of the multilaterals and bilaterals in which they have become engaged and their use of an immigration policy to build their financial services sector.
    So yes your point is sound and I agree – But the context does not apply to 2000/2001 and even the misquoted opinion remains fact.

    The wider issue and point made was that services is an area covered under the WTO and specifically GATS and is increasingly on the table for our other negotiations – current and pending. (luckily Financial Services excluded form the EPA). So the call is to Understand that we are a trading country – appreciate that these ‘rules’ affect the way that we do business in The Bahamas and a call for us to not fall into a defensive posture but rather to seek opportunity to preserve market access as well as seek New opportunities –

    The Bahamas cannot afford to remain on the outside of these fora as it is here that the rules and terms of trade are created and the only place where we may be able seek recourse if/when offended.

    You are welcomed to a copy of the paper and others I have done – I think they may clarify the sound bites that might cause confusion – I apologize if you were mislead and available at this email –

    Regards,

    H

    Reply
  • After reading this article and recalling other comments to the media by Mr. Ferguson, it is clear to me that he either is not reading these international agreements signed by The Bahamas or he simply wants to mislead the public.

    Yes, The Bahamas and Barbados were blacklisted by the OECD. Barbados was remove from the list because of numerous tax information exchange agreements (TIEA) they had in place during that particular round of blacklisting by the OECD not because of WTO membership. The Bahamas’ TIEA’s with the majority of G8 and G20 members will service the country well in the future.

    Further, agreements like the Caribbean Basin Initiative with the United States and the Canadian equivalent provide The Bahamas with technical assistance.

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