By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas is still moving “according to plan” in its accession to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, a Cabinet minister yesterday saying his ‘value-added’ trade strategy goes “hand-in-hand” with the process.
Ryan Pinder, minister of financial servies, said yesterday that the ‘value-added strategy’ being advanced by the Government, using both trade in goods and services “certainly goes hand in hand with the WTO accession process.
“In order to be able to encourage industry to locate and be in the Bahamas, they have to be assured that they are going to have preferential and guaranteed access to other markets. You have to be able to know and give the confidence to the industry that the markets they want to access, there will be no discrimination because it’s being done in the Bahamas, and they will have preferential access,” Mr Pinder added.
“That’s one one the fundamental principles of the WTO; to ensure that guaranteed right to access other markets.”
Mr Pinder said a value-added trade strategy is one which seeks to increase the value of a product at each stage of production.
Addressing this nation’s accession to WTO, Mr Pinder said: “We’re moving well. I was just in Geneva and had a meeting with many of the ambassadors that represent the countries in our working group, who we have bilateral negotiations and discussions with. By and large there was tremendous support for our accession process from those who ultimately will be making those decisions.”
Mr Pinder added: “We’re finalising the most meaty process of our reports and evaluations that we have to provide to member states, which should be completed in very short order. I would say that we are still moving according to plan on our WTO accession process.”
Addressing the implementation of a Bahamian Standards Bureau, which he described as “fundamental” to the WTO process, Mr Pinder said: “You have to be able to know that the goods have the right standard to be able to access new markets.
“We have recently procured a legislative review of our current legislation from the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), of which we have some recommendations for some legislative amendments. Those are at the Attorney General’s Office now being reviewed.”
Mr Pinder added: “We also, while I was in Geneva, took the opportunity to meet with the International Standards Organisation (ISO) towards our development plan and the assistance they’re going to be able to provide.
“We have also reached a bilateral country agreement with the Dominican Republic, where they will provide their technical assistance in standards quality. They are very advanced in their standards regime. We have secured preliminary approval at the ministerial level for grant funding to help with the Dominican Republic-Bahamas agreement on standards.”