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PM addresses Austin business forum

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and a high-level delegation are currently in the US where Minnis was the guest speaker at the Austin Technology Council/Texas Association of Business forum, Austin, Texas, January 22, 2018. (Photo/Yontalay Bowe)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was the guest speaker at the Austin Technology Council/Texas Association of Business forum, Austin, Texas, January 22, 2018.

The Prime Minister and a high-level delegation are currently visiting Texas to identify foreign investment and business opportunities.

Read the Prime Minister’s address here:

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Good morning,
I am delighted to be here with you this morning The Bahamas, like Canada and Mexico, is among the closest geographic neighbors of the United States.

To offer you some geographical perspective, the Bahamas’ archipelago extends southwest from Southern Florida in the United States to northern Cuba. Our far-flung archipelago, with approximately 21 major islands and many hundreds of cays and islands, extends from north to south, approximately the same geographic length from the northern to the southern end of Britain.

To put it another way, The Bahamas extends from north to south, the same distance as from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of South America. We are just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, less than half hour’s journey by air from our capital, Nassau.

This proximity is partly responsible for the longstanding good neighbour relationship which exists between our two countries.

There are long and well-established ties between The Bahamas and the United States.

The Bahamas is among the oldest parliamentary democracies in the Western Hemisphere.

We have a stable government, a well-established and respected legal system with The Privy Council in London as the highest court of last resort.

Our English-speaking population of nearly 400,000 people is proud, patriotic and peaceful.

Our economy has historically been based on tourism and while tourism will always be the main driver of our economy, we also appreciate the need for economic diversification. With this in mind, late last year we passed legislation known as the Commercial Enterprises Act.

The intent of this Act is to offer incentives to investors who establish businesses in The Bahamas that would help us in our diversification drive while also creating higher paying jobs and long-term job security.

Under this legislation, investors in captive insurance, reinsurance, arbitration, wealth management, computer programming, maritime trade, nanotechnology, biomedical industries, data storage, call centers, software design and writing will be given a number of concessions and incentives if they were to locate in The Bahamas.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
My government has embarked upon a major mission to establish The Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama Island, as a world-renowned technology hub. Grand Bahama is the second most populous island in The Bahamas, with excellent modern infrastructure. The capital, Freeport, is in short flying distance from Florida, and enjoys US Immigration and Customs Pre-Clearance.

This past November, through our first ever Grand Bahama Technology Summit, we started on the path to realize this goal. We had the opportunity to host some of the finest minds in technology locally and from international tech giants.

Grand Bahama is uniquely suited to become an internationally recognized Science, Technology and Innovation hub.
We invite you consider Grand Bahama as you plan your next start up or the expansion of your international enterprise.

Grand Bahama and The Bahamas possess modern and superior infrastructure, modern roads, constant and reliable electricity supply of North-American standards, fully digital telecommunications and high quality high-speed internet.

We also have a wide variety of public and private schools, both elementary and secondary, as well as the University of The Bahamas. We realize that an integral component of the continued growth of our economy is by developing human capacity through education.

I am pleased that our schools and university are committed to maintaining modern and strong curriculum standards to prepare our people for a growing job market.

Bahamians are also among the most technologically savvy people in the Caribbean. Our recent Technology Summit highlighted several Bahamians who are at the cutting edge of innovation and technology.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Grand Bahama has proven to be an attractive place for manufacturing cutting-edge technology.

Carnival Corporation has identified Grand Bahama as the ideal location to configure and assemble the Ocean Medallion concierge system. This interactive technology is expected to change the cruise experience and we are proud to house its development center in the Grand Bahama.

The Bahamas is currently finalizing programs for blockchain-based solutions, fin-tech and crypto-currency companies and intend to promote blockchain as a sub-industry within ICT.

We are currently engaged in discussions on how we can fast-track work permits and ensure that companies who employ US and foreign talent can retain these employees in The Bahamas.
We remain open to tailor-making packages specific to a company’s needs, allowing them to retain their talent without increasing cost.

Legislation has been passed in our Commercial Enterprise Act which will streamline business applications and immigration processes in order to facilitate new technology businesses.

Freeport, Grand Bahamahas great promise as a digital center. Our nation’s second city has superb communications infrastructure so you are always connected. Freeport has two major ISPs with independent terrestrial, subterranean, sub-sea and wireless networks.

The city also boasts diverse network paths, self-healing metro, inter-island and international networks.
Home connectivity in Freeport is measured up to 100 megabit per second, having providing business services via copper and fibre, with speeds exceeding 1 gigabit per second.

Freeport is one of the most unique areas of the entire Bahamas, being that it is managed by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, a private city management organization, in conjunction with the national government.

In the early development of the City of Freeport, The Grand Bahama Port Authority created the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, which established Freeport (The “Port Area”) as a free trade zone.

Under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, business owners enjoy the benefits of a tax neutral jurisdiction.
There is no capital gains, real property or corporate income tax.

Freeport is especially suited for development, as the pre-planned city has not yet nearly met its capacity.
Undeveloped, unpolluted land and buildings are just waiting to be utilized in the City of Freeport.

Additionally, Freeport houses the island’s highly reliable power company. My government prioritizes maintaining close relations with our service providers.

I am pleased to say that Grand Power Company has expressed its preparedness to be flexible in rates particularly for new technology companies. Additionally, The Freeport Container Port boasts the deepest container terminal in the region. The 24-hour a day facility serves as a major transshipment hub between the US, Latin America, Europe.

Freeport proudly boasts advanced building codes – some of the strongest in the Western Hemisphere – and a communications infrastructure that has withstood major hurricanes. Data Centers established in Freeport have not been impacted in any hurricane season. The Bahamas enjoys economic and monetary stability. We have a skilled workforce at competitive rates. We have world-class infrastructure. We have a progressive immigration policy designed to attract talented professionals from across the globe.

The Bahamas offers modern educational and health facilities, a wealth of cultural events, and pristine beaches which all adds up to luxury living at its finest. On behalf of the Government and the entire people of our great nation, I sincerely thank you for your time. I look forward to future partnerships as we embark on this new beginning for The Bahamas.

It is not just Better in The Bahamas in terms of the visitor experience for tourists. The Bahamas is also an excellent place for investment, and we continue to get even better.

Thank you and good morning.

The government of The Bahamas has said it will “respond aggressively” to recommendations made by the Ease of Doing Business Committee in an effort to address the global outlook on ease of doing business in The Bahamas.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and a high-level delegation are currently in the US where Minnis was the guest speaker at the Austin Technology Council/Texas Association of Business forum, Austin, Texas, January 22, 2018.

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