By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will open up new markets for domestic manufacturers according to Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder who told Tribune Business that trade agreements would ensure the sector would be protected from issues such as dumping.
Mr Pinder, who recently visited several manufacturing firms on Grand Bahama, told Tribune Business: “Some of the larger manufacturers who are involved in international trade have a keen interest in some of the Latin American markets and certainly they were excited to hear that in our WTO accession process we are looking at engaging some of the Latin American countries because we also see them as prime markets for trade. We had some interesting discussions on how my ministry can open up new markets and help facilitate their expansion and growth which ultimately means increased employment for Grand Bahamians.
Speaking about the WTO’s impact on the domestic manufacturing sector Mr Pinder said: “When you are talking about your domestic manufacturing it allows you to open up new markets in international trade out of manufacturing rather than just manufacturing for domestic purposes. Certainly in Freeport and on large scale manufacturing where it is already manufacturing for export, the WTO accession process is very important because it allows for us to negotiate certain reduced tariffs and certain industries that support our manufacturers, so it really enhances new markets for them. WTO, especially in the context of manufacturing and trade is very important and timely as we look to further diversify the economy and employment.”
Mr Pinder added: “We have anti-dumping legislation on the agenda and that was a concern for the manufacturers. There is also a standards bureau that establishes certain standards for imported goods and goods in the Bahamas. The legislative reform that come out of a WTO accession and an EPA implementation process helps to provide that framework to protect domestic industry from those things that are happening right now.”
Regarding the Bahamas’ progress towards WTO accession Mr Pinder said: “We are laying out both our legislative agenda and our policy agenda. We are looking to have our third round of working groups next Spring and in the mean time we are looking to engage not only some of our trading partners in bilateral discussions but we are also looking to pursue the necessary legislative framework. We just passed the trade policy support loan which assists in the modernisation of customs but also provides certain financial support to our accession process. We are aggressively working to address the technical issues. We feel very encouraged.”