By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Chamber of Commerce has hired Oxford Economics to study the likely economic impact of this nation's accession to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership.
Darron Pickstock, who heads the Chamber's trade and investment division, said: "There has been significant pubic discourse about the prospect of WTO accession and its potential impact on the economy, businesses and people of The Bahamas.
"Therefore, the Chamber thought it critical and necessary to engage Oxford Economics. They have a proven track record with assisting governments and private sector organisations with economic modelling and forecasting."
Mr Pickstock added that the Oxford Economics team had arrived in The Bahamas last week, and has already met with various government ministries and regulators. Starting this week, they will be consulting with the private sector over the next three weeks.
"The report will be shared with government and they have agreed to review it and, hopefully, the Government will take into consideration the report in its deliberations on WTO," Mr Pickstock added.
Oxford Economics managing director, Scott Livermore, said the analysis will carefully consider the impact of WTO on key sectors in the Bahamian economy. "We have a deep understanding of the Bahamian economy and its trading relationships," he added.
"In looking at the economic implications of WTO accession it is important to realise the unique characteristics of the Bahamian economy. This analysis of the impact on the economy will require careful consideration of WTO, and the impact of WTO obligations, on key sectors such as tourism, retail and financial services, as well as the assessment of potential policy reforms to enhance competitiveness in key sectors.
"Even if the economy benefits overall as a result of joining WTO there are also important other socio-economic considerations to factor in," continued Mr Livermore. "Through consultation we will do an assessment of The Bahamas' current readiness in key sectors for WTO accession, identify sectors where WTO accession will have the greatest positive benefit, and develop a better understanding of the remaining red lines that should not be crossed in negotiations. From this analysis we will build up a scenario of the most desired outcome of WTO negotiations."
Mr Livermore said the study would not only be a research exercise but is intended to be a guide for the Government in the negotiation process.