Categorized | National News


The Bahamas’ Chief Negotiator Zhivargo Laing yesterday said the challenge for the  government is to protect and preserve Bahamian businesses, no matter how small as the country negotiates ascension into the World Trade Organization (WTO).  

   Mr. Laing was a guest along with Attorney Paul Moss on the  Love 97 and JCN   Radio and Television  talk show Jones and Company  off the heels of the third meeting of the working party in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Laing further explained that while the country is making progress, it still has a long way to go, saying that if we have a five step process, we’re at the end of step one. 

He said, “when I would’ve went to Geneva, it was essentially a question of sitting with a group of people and answering questions about about the trade regime itself, the factual summary of the trade regime, and getting clarifications.”

He added, “upon that day we would submit those questions or additional question in writing. So, we would have to go back. So, no hard negotiations have taken place at all yet.”

  However, he also noted that the manufacturing industry, though on a small scale, isn’t solely reserved for Bahamians. 

He said, “the areas that we have reserved for Bahamians, we’ve already breached the policy. So, it makes the argument even more difficult for the WTO because they get to say’ Well, your largest wholesaler is CISCO’.”

He added, “you go on Bay Street and the vast majority of the owners of the stores on Bay Street are Mexicans and Indians.” 

He also reflected on how the country will manage without WTO. 

“I think that what we will not see is an opportunity to exist in a relationship with the rest of the trading world that could for the progressive, modern, ambitious Bahamian represent opportunities to access markets and to develop business opportunities that look like the terms that others get while members of the organization.”, he said. 

“The problem with potential is, you don’t get to measure when it’s not realized. you only realize what you lose or what you gain.” 

How Mr. Laing sees it, it’s better to live with the WTO than to live without it.

Mr. Moss is calling for a referendum in the Bahamas on whether or not the Bahamas  should  join  WTO. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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