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WTO accession 'grinds to a halt'

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas' accesion to full World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership has come to a "grinding halt", a Cabinet Minister yesterday arguing that private sector and public involvement is now key to how this nation moves forward.

Brent Symonette, in his contribution to the 2017-2018 Budget debate, said the Bahamas first applied for full WTO membership back in 2001. "We are at the stage now where we have to engage the public as to where this WTO process will go," the Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Commerce, and Immigration said.

"The process seems have come to a grinding halt. We need to bring that whole process forward to discuss where we want to go with the WTO."

Mr Symonette highlighted concerns expressed by Bahamian manufacturers about the need to protecting local industry via tariff barriers.

"We manufacture paint here. It's about 5 per cent of the paint industry. We seek to reduce the duty on paint. This is the type of discussion that we have to have, and also with juices. If we want to provide protectionism or duties that allow for Bahamians to manufacture we need to have that discussion relative to the WTO," said Mr Symonette.

He added that WTO accession has traditionally meant the lowering of import duties to provide "a level playing field".

"That's a discussion that my ministry will be having over the next few months," Mr Symonette said. "We will meet with the business community, the manufacturing community to see what are their needs, the difficulties and how we can make this all work to provide employment for Bahamians in the manufacturing industry."

Bahamian juice drink manufacturers have warned they face "irreparable harm" if the Government eliminates the 60 per cent duty on rival imports, with one warning up to 20 jobs are at stake.

Former Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller, himself a paint supplier via Sunburst Paints, recently told Tribune Business that the tariff reductions on imported paint and associated products, plus batteries, ran completely counter to the Free National Movement's (FNM) 'It's the people's time' campaign slogan.

By making imported rivals more competitive on price, Mr Miller, a former minister of trade and industry, warned that the Government's actions threatened the survival of existing manufacturers while also discouraging Bahamian entrepreneurs from entering the sector.

Comments

Porcupine 7 years ago

But Mr. Leslie Miller forgot to say that prices for paint for the average Bahamian citizen may well fall. Leslie is all for Leslie. He just talks the talk.

SP 7 years ago

The Bahamas remains the only country in the Western Hemisphere that is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for VERY good reason!

The Minnis administration had better look long and hard at the proven negatives associated with Caribbean States and the WTO as all I can see is an open invitation to be dominated and dictated to by greedy conglomerates.

https://www.forbes.com/2010/05/18/wto-g…

Major world leading countries contrived WTO without consultation or any input whatsoever from small countries and entire regions like the Bahamas. They include absolutely no real benefit for the Caribbean region which also largely has NO VOICE in WTO.

No one can identify not one single, solitary Caribbean country that has benefited from WTO membership!

Global corporations control WTO and all they care about is improving profit margins notwithstanding that millions of (black) people will be adversely affected by their actions.

The Bahamas should follow UK Brexit backtracking on allowing EU countries fishing rights and other defaults are in the pipeline against globalization.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40471466

We should ABSTAIN from WTO at any cost and concentrate on collaborating with UK and Commonwealth countries for food and energy production and business.

Bahamas must "Jusy Say No To WTO"!

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