After missing deadlines for the first two rounds of import tariff cuts, the Government is now working “feverishly” to bring the Bahamas into compliance with its commitments to the European Union (EU) under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services, told Tribune Business that complying with the EPA’s requirements for phased reductions in up to 85 per cent of Customs duty lines was not as simple as merely cutting tariffs to bring them into line with the required rates.
“We will become compliant with our EPA obligations once the Tariff Act is put in place, which hopefully will happen fairly soon,” Mr. Pinder told The Tribune. “We have given a commitment to the EU in recent ministerial meetings that we are working towards implementing the necessary legislation to facilitate the tariff reductions on a phased basis, as required by the EPA.”
The second round of tariff/import duty liberalisation was supposed to happen this month, but the Bahamas missed the deadline.
Conceding that the Bahamas had missed the first two tariff cut deadlines, Mr Pinder said only a handful of Caribbean nations were in compliance. Jamaica’s Cabinet, he added, had only met on the matter in recent weeks.
“We are behind, but most of the players are behind,” Mr Pinder told Tribune Business. “We’re all in the same boat. We are behind, but we met it behind when we came into office. We have started the process to pass a Tariff Act that is compliant and consistent with our obligations under the EPA. We are advancing that as quickly as possible on the legislative agenda.”