The Trade and Industry Unit of the Ministry is responsible for implementing and promoting domestic and international trade, as a tool for national economic development and diversification of the economy.
The Ministry seeks to use trade to build on existing platforms, and to forge an environment in which Bahamian businesses may export their goods and services by taking advantage of The Bahamas’ natural and infrastructural resources, and its strategic geographical proximity to the busiest shipping lanes of the Americas.
Some of the Trade and Industry Unit’s initiatives and activities are highlighted below.
The Bahamas Trade Commission
The Ministry serves as the Secretariat for the Bahamas Trade Commission. The Bahamas Trade Commission is a Government appointed body responsible for liaising with the business community to understand their concerns about various trade agreements and to inform the community about developments in the Government’s trade policy and agenda.
The recently reconstituted Bahamas Trade Commission (for the 2017 – 2018 period) is made up of ten (10) representatives from the private sector. The Trade Commission is responsible for sensitizing the Bahamian public and the business community about the effects of trade liberalization on the Bahamian economy, the full implications of trade Agreements, and making recommendations and/or creating a plan to integrate trade Agreements into everyday business activity in The Bahamas.
The current Chairman of the Trade Commission is Mr. Raymond Winder, who is supported by the Deputy Chairman Mrs. Viana Gardiner.
Visit the Trade Commission’s webpage via: www.bahamas.gov.bs/tradecommission
The Bahamas Trade & Information Service Portal
The Ministry has developed a Trade Information Service Portal in an effort to address the need for reliable, current and readily available trade information. The Portal is a public-private partnership with The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation with the overall objective of diversifying the economy and facilitating the ease of doing business in The Bahamas.
The Trade Information Service Portal is an online one-stop-shop containing important trade information on export/import statistics, trade regulations, shipping information, company profiles and international trade agreements.
The Portal also seeks to provide businesses with reliable trade data, collected, collated and conveniently stored on a centralized and user-friendly platform. Through this service, Bahamian entrepreneurs have online access to market access requirements for a given good/category of goods in foreign markets of interest, and foreign businesses have online access to market access requirements for a given good/category of goods or service in The Bahamas or contact details for major Bahamian buyers/importers.
One of the features of the Portal is an Exporter Directory which permits foreign buyers to directly contact and source Bahamian exporters.
Visit the Trade Portal via: www.bahamastradeinfo.gov.bs
CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED)
As a full and active member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), The Bahamas also participates in CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED). The COTED is responsible for the promotion of trade and economic development of the Caribbean Community. While the COTED’s mandate includes overseeing issues arising under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) of which The Bahamas is not a member and the application of the Common External Tariff of the CSME which The Bahamas does not apply, the COTED is also responsible for promoting and developing, in collaboration with the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), co-ordinated policies for the enhancement of external economic and trade relations of the Community.
As such, The Bahamas’ participation in COTED ensures that the country’s national priorities regarding trade as well as CARICOM’s objectives as a trading bloc are coordinated and promoted, , at the regional and international levels.
Trading Relationship with the United States
The Bahamas maintains close ties with the United States of America with a substantial amount of its imports originating from the United States. With its close proximity to the United States, The Bahamas continues to actively participate in the CARICOM-United States Trade and Investment Council (TIC) meetings which are geared towards the promotion of positive trade relations between CARICOM countries and the United States of America.
The Bahamas also currently benefits from the US’ Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), which is a series of trade programs that seeks to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the economies of Caribbean Basin countries by providing beneficiary countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for most goods.
The CBI was launched in 1983 through the enactment of The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (“CBERA”) which authorized the granting of certain U.S. unilateral preferential trade and tax benefits to Caribbean Basin countries and territories. The CBERA permitted 27 countries to be designated by the US President as beneficiary countries eligible to receive duty-free or reduced-duty access for selected exports provided the countries meet specific conditions.
Under CBI The Bahamas is eligible to be designated by the US President as a beneficiary country eligible to receive duty-free or reduced-duty access for selected exports. However, this designation may be denied or suspended for a number of reasons, and is at the discretion of the President.