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Bahamas’ Economic Welfare ‘Paramount’ In Us-China Battle

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Branville McCartney

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamian economy’s welfare must be “paramount” when the prime minister meets Donald Trump today, an ex-DNA leader warning: “We can’t afford any more hits.”

Branville McCartney told Tribune Business that the interests of The Bahamas and its people must be protected, and the foremost concern, when Dr Hubert Minnis meets the US president amid fears that this nation could be dragged into Washington DC’s battle with China for economic supremacy.

Describing the US and China as “married to each other” whether they admit it or not, Mr McCartney likened The Bahamas’ situation to being a “child” of the unhappy couple whose well-being was the “paramount concern” - at least where the Minnis administration is concerned.

He said today’s meeting at Mr Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was tantamount to a child visiting one parent at the expense of the other, with the latter affronted that this is occurring despite everything they believe they have done to improve their welfare.

Mr Trump has already provoked local Chinese embassy officials to blast his “irresponsible accusations”, after a White House statement on the meeting with Dr Minnis and other Caribbean leaders said countering Beijing’s “predatory economic practices” would be among the agenda topics.

The Bahamas faces potentially being caught in the geopolitical battle between two economic superpowers, depending on the outcome and fall-out from today’s summit, which has been a situation brewing for some time as a result of China’s extensive investments in a nation - and region - which Washington D. C. considers as lying in its “backyard”.

Besides the $4.2bn Baha Mar project, now owned by Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), and China Construction America’s (CCA) acquisition of the British Colonial Hilton and $200m development of The Pointe on adjacent land, China has multiple other interests in this nation. CCA is a Chinese state-owned company, while CTFE’s principals, the Chengs, are well connected with the Chinese communist party.

The $40m North Abaco port was developed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC); the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium constructed via a $40m “gift” from the Chinese government; and Chinese capital was loaned to The Bahamas to help finance the Airport Gateway road improvements.

The Prime Minister’s meeting with Mr Trump comes at a time when the US is engaged in an increasingly tempestuous trade war with Beijing, both sides slapping tariffs on each’s others imports, amid Washington D. C.’s claims that China has engaged in unfair practices involving intellectual property theft, restricted market access, and forced joint ventures and technology transfers.

Mr McCartney said The Bahamas needed to “delicately” carve out a path between the two feuding giants that avoided upsetting either, given that both were sources of considerable foreign direct investment (FDI) capital and job creation.

However, he pointed out that this nation could not afford to ignore the fact that the US was the market that delivered 85 percent of this nation’s visitors - even though it was the Chinese that built, finance and now own Baha Mar.

The ex-DNA leader said the Prime Minister’s post-meeting briefing on the summit with Mr Trump would be key, and added: “Obviously there seems to be some type of battle. We know for years that China, not only in The Bahamas but throughout the region, has been putting roots in the ground in relation to the US’ backyard.

“The Caribbean is the US backyard, and we are the closest backyard....... I hate to preempt the meeting, but I suspect they will be talking about Chinese influence in The Bahamas, notably Baha Mar and the stadium. I think the Prime Minister will be there to listen, but you never know what Trump is going to say or want to do.

“I certainly suspect this will be about the battle between the two giants, and we’re in the middle of it,” Mr McCartney continued. “His [the Prime Minister’s] job is to do what is in the best interests of The Bahamas, always bearing in mind that the US is our big brother whether we like it or not.

“Most of our tourists come from the US, the Ministry of Tourism has acknowledged that reality, and certainly that must be in the back of the minds of our government. Whatever must be done is to the welfare of this country.

“We’re a small country, location is paramount, and we’re going to have to deal with this very delicately and in the best interests of The Bahamas. How that plays out is difficult to say. It’s one step at a time. The effect on the economy is paramount. We can’t take any more hits.”

Mr McCartney said current Bahamian economic conditions remain “stressful to say the least, doing business and keeping your doors open. We have our own problems with the high cost of living and doing business, which we could have dealt with internally as a country but to-date have failed to do so”.

Calling for The Bahamas to make “informed decisions” based on the outcome of the Trump meeting, and for Bahamians to stay informed, the former DNA leader said the issue was bound to “come to a head” regardless of who was US president.

He added that he “would not be surprised” if China countered by calling a meeting of its own to point out all the investment and development it has financed in The Bahamas, touting Baha Mar’s status as the largest casino in the Caribbean. The US counter its its proximity and the fact “your number one industry is thriving on our citizens”.

“Whether the US and China wish to acknowledge it or not, they’re married to each other,” Mr McCartney said, pointing to their trade, investment and finance ties. “One of their children is The Bahamas. It may not be a good marriage, most marriages never are, but they have a child and from a legal position that is the paramount concern.

“That’s how the Prime Minister must look at it. We’re a child, we’re a paramount concern, and our welfare is paramount.”

Comments

bogart 2 months ago

"Married to each other" ..US and China...as described Bran....good point....but as in da local...local situation.....its da Bahamas earning money off of the U S...tourists....but spending the money to da China to service dere easy easy loans.....????....isnt dat like "sweethearting"?

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TheMadHatter 2 months ago

Utter nonsense. China has been at war with the west - yes war - for 40 years. WE have been playing stupid and ignorant - just pretending it's not happening. We, being us and the USA and Canada, etc.

Finally there is someone with the guts to stand up to China. There isn't any time for tip toeing around, being careful, whatever. It's time to kick ...

If Baha Mar, the Hilton, and the Pointe have to close down - then so be it. Shut down the container port and everything else that those communists own here. Painful, yes - but in the end we will have regained our freedom to grow at our own pace and without insane amounts of debt. After that, if we could get our Crown Land back, we will be alright.

THROW THE COMMUNISTS OUT !!!!!

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bogart 2 months ago

CRITICAL PART OF THE EQUATION.....IS THAT THESE INVESTMENTS....ARE PART OF DA BAHAMIAN POLITICIANS........DEY SIGNS DESE AGREEMENTS....WHO ON BEHALF OF DA PEOPLE....we pore....struggling...needing good governance....needing benefits....getting worse from past corruption....THE POLITICIANS AGREE TO THESE DEALS....instead of cutting wastages....throwing into jail crooks cronies cohorts done ran country up on rocks......ONLY AIR BLAMING THE WRONGED...all knowing each other...in similar govt agencies boards....bailing out govt agencies...even one with priVate shareholders..!!!!!....AND THE EASY WAY IS TO PUSH THE COUNTRY INTO HIGHEST NATIONAL DEBT....,!!.,.....AND CUT DEALS WID THE EASY LOANS...INVESTMENTS...DESPITE....DESPITE...DESEE EXPERTS SHOULD KNOW FINANCIAL RATIOS..GEARING...DEBT SERVICING....LONG..SHORT TERM...LIGUIDITY...and didnt give a damn leaving next ...present Administration unseen hidden disaster......leaving debts on pore ......now known persons accountable......instead of confronting friends...cohorts...cronies..even cohorts different party supporters but same professions........!!!!!!....

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TheMadHatter 2 months ago

True. So thank God there is a new sheriff in town. Sheriff Trump. And that ain't no tin star - that's platinum baby. Platinum.

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truetruebahamian 2 months ago

China, go home and stay home. The Bahamas does not want you, like you or need you.

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Johny8 2 months ago

Never trust communists, especially red China. If we open the door and let them in, sooner or later, they will be ruling us and we will be their slaves. Look at other countries in Asia invaded and occupied by China!!!

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alleycat 2 months ago

The whole world has already been “invaded and occupied by China” - economically. Look at the food you eat, the fork you eat it with, the plate you eat it off, the chair you sit on to eat it, the fridge you keep it in... and tell me they aren’t all Made in China. If we have to take sides, we will be a lot better off with China than with that idiot in Washington.

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killemwitdakno 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Let them have a cay for the trash. Can export our trash to China like the US does.

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