Agribusiness may be key to WTO ascension, says DPM

Deputy Prime Minister, Peter Turnquest.

Agribusiness has the potential of leading the way as The Bahamas prepares to ascend to the World Trade Organization (WTO) according to Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest who said, once farmers have a business environment to thrive, consistency is inevitable.

“Persons are taking products beyond growing,” Turnquest said while speaking at The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) open house on Thursday.

“We see the value in agriculture and it is strong in setting up a business that is technology based. We have a change to make use of it through processing and canning.”

Turnquest acknowledged, however, that The Bahamas has not been competitive in exporting products in raw form.

“We can’t sell our Bahamas and export them because they don’t look like Chiquita or we can’t sell our tomatoes because they have too many dimples. These are just some of the things you hear but if you take those products a step further the potential is there.”

Currently, various sectors of society are meeting to map out a plan for the country move to WTO by 2019.

Among the government’s reform options is an increase to the existing 7.5 per cent value-added tax (VAT) rate, or the introduction of new taxes and/or increases to other existing levies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year suggested The Bahamas introduce a low-rate corporate tax to compensate for the WTO-related loss of revenue.