By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Cabinet Minister said yesterday that a Bahamian international arbitration centre would be built around the “three pillars” of trade, maritime and financial services, confirming that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been finalised for domestic arbitration.
Speaking with Tribune Business at the inaugural National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce, Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services, said that by the end of 2014 the Government hoped to have a concrete strategy for the way forward on the establishment of an international arbitration centre.
“On the international side we look to build around three pillars; one is trade disputes,” he said. “We believe that we are perfectly positioned between the Americas to be a source of arbitration of disputes between businesses in those countries. We don’t have to have a connection with the actual transaction, but we can provide the forum of which that dispute can be arbitrated.
“That provides room nights, use of our facilities. Lawyers can be involved, as well as accountants and other professionals can be involved. We can have Bahamian panelists on those arbitration hearings, hearing international disputes with proper training and exposure. It provides a great opportunity for a lot of our professionals and it raises the profile of the Bahamas in the international trading community,” said Mr Pinder.
He added: “The second pillar is financial services arbitration. We
are the only country to put in our laws to allow trust disputes to be arbitrated and that’s an opportunity for us. The third pillar is maritime. In any given year we have the fourth or fifth largest ship registry in the world.
“In maritime, wherever you are registered you can choose that jurisdiction to arbitrate any disputes. We now have a natural industry right there where we can develop arbitration capacity. We believe that we have the expertise and key location to build on those areas.”
Mr Pinder said he hoped that in the next two to three years, The Bahamas would be viewed as the preeminent arbitration centre in those areas.
On the domestic arbitration front, Mr Pinder said that two MoUs had been finalised with the Chamber of Commerce, and should be brought to Cabinet this month.
“We have two MoU’s, one has to do with trade information services, which is a portal for businesses to be able to access opportunities in trade. The second MoU is with respect to arbitration and building a domestic arbitration centre. My Ministry and the Chamber had agreed to the text on both of those memorandums and we hope to bring it to Cabinet this month,” said Mr Pinder.