Leading Sectors For US Exports and Investment – Bahamas Business Guide

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

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.