Categorized | National News

Bahamians Protest As WTO Draft Is Released

The  lead negotiator for the Bahamas for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Zhivargo Laing has  released the offer The Bahamas will make during an upcoming meeting with the organisation.

The offer he explained, contained a breakdown of what The Bahamas proposes regarding goods and services.

Mr. Laing outlined the issues as follows: “One, sensitive agriculture and manufacturing that are produced in this country have higher proposed rates than the currently applied rates, representing a number of instances of what we called tariffing of existing support programs.” 

“Two, the average rate of duty will drop from 32 percent or thereabout to 15 per cent. So, if you take all the duty, add them up and divide them by the eight plus thousand lines. You should get an average rate of about 15 per cent. Third, that there are any number of instances that tariff is maintained,” he said.   


According to Mr. Laing, the Bahamas’ offer closely mirrors its current national investment policy,  stressing that there are a number of benefits to joining the WTO, one of which is economic growth.

“Our own economic modelling suggests that because of the transparencies that get created in a WTO commitment by a country, because of the modernizing of your business legislation and environment,  there has tended to be a up to 2 per cent growth in the economy of an exceeding country for up to 5 years. 

“Even if the economy slows after that five years, the growth that took place in that economy doesn’t shrink thereafter,” he said. 


As it relates to challenges The Bahamas would face if the decision is made to joining the WTO, Mr. Laing said there’s no issue Bahamians face concerning WTO accession that cannot be addressed.

“If you are a country where your government is dependent on custom duties for revenue, then if you are lowering duties for a WTO accession, that means that there’s a certain amount of money the government will lose,  which presumably if it doesn’t want to run a larger deficit, it has to make up and so how the government does that is the challenge that has to be met. 

“Secondly, if you’re lowering custom duties on imports and you have a local manufacturer who is competing with that import, then that local manufacturer would face added price competitive pressures and so how do you respond to that disadvantage might accrue to that local manufacturer, that’s a challenge,” he said.


Also facing similar challenges, he said would be those in the agricultural sector who may feel additional pressures relating to duties being lowered.

The final draft of the offer’s to be completed by the end of the month.

Meanwhile,  a small demonstration was held in Rawson Square, Bay Street,  yesterday by Bahamians who are calling on the government to hold a referendum for the people to determine  the country’s involvement with WTO.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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