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Finance Minister urges businesses to back WTO bid

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has urged Bahamian businesses to embrace the country's bid to become a member of the World Trade Organization by the end of 2019, saying it will give them access to new markets. 

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Friday, June 15, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has urged Bahamian businesses to embrace the country’s bid to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of 2019, saying it will give them access to new markets.

“Take advantage of those niches that come as we explore these opportunities,” he said while delivering the opening address at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Confederation (BCCEC)’s conclave, held yesterday at the Baha Mar Convention Centre.


“Membership in a rules-based organisation gives us an opportunity to enter markets with predictable terms. This is a big sandbox and some of us have to get out of our comfort zones.”

“The country must regard itself as a global entity. In no sector can we afford to be insular. We must see ourselves as global participants. The Bahamas cannot defend its own trade interests if it does not have a seat at the table.”

The WTO bid is currently undergoing industry consultation and the Minister asked BCCEC members to contribute, saying: “Your feedback is valuable to us as we form our opinions and suggestions going forward. You have an opportunity to shape what these negotiations will look like, but you have to be engaged, involved and informed.”

BCCEC chair Mike Maura Jr agreed and praised the business community for the level of its involvement so far. “It is important and necessary for the private sector and government to work as partners,” he added. “Keeping us on the outside only creates more anxiety.”

The Bahamas has been eyeing WTO accession for over a decade, but redoubled its efforts when the FNM administration took power last year and made the bid a key part of its new agenda. The current government claims it will enhance The Bahamas’ international reputation and boost the country’s economy.

cmorris@dupuch.com

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