Citizens Against Bank Exploitation (CABE) Founder Dr. Denotrah Archer-Cartwright, Attorney and CABE member Fayne Thompson as well as, Pastor Glen Rolle Thursday all collaborated to utilize social media to open the dialogue about the World Trade Organization (WTO) Thursday.
Their goal was to not only educate citizens on what possibilities of joining the WTO can bring or take away from The Bahamas, but also to ascertain the understanding Bahamians have of the WTO.
Bahamians collaborated on a live feed video yesterday discussing the topic where some displayed disinterest in the country ascending to the WTO.
Dr. Archer-Cartwright told Eyewitness News yesterday that the discussion she felt, was needed to happen as it became evident to her that many Bahamians did not have a full understanding of WTO.
“Some people just don’t understand and when they can’t, they don’t see possibilities,” said Dr. Archer-Cartwright.
While some expressed utter disdain for the organisation, others offered logical reasoning and suggestions.
“This WTO would not enhance our way of living; a few of us may benefit, but for the majority of Bahamians would be at a disadvantage! Bahamas would not be a major player in the WTO,” said one participant.
“The Bahamas does not need to join the WTO! Are you ready to give up your sovereignty Bahamas? God forbid,” noted another.
“Find out what we have the WTO want,” wrote another.
“Fight for our natural resources then you will see why WTO is needed and they do not know what they are doing.”
According to Attorney Fayne Thompson, WTO is “the worst thing that can ever happen to The Commonwealth of The Bahamas” and noted that Article 52 of The Constitution speaks to peace, order and good governance for the people of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“… not the foreigners and not for big companies… under this rubric was an economic policy known as Bahamianization. What we are doing by joining the WTO in one failed swoop is to put all of that aside,” said Thompson.
According to Thompson, countries around the world were forced into joining the WTO; “they had no choice but to join” and to date (as of this week) there are participating membership is at 164.
He explained that the WTO’s inception was the response to the failed organization called General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) – an old treaty which policed and supervised the purchase of sales and goods internationally.
The WTO’s role, according to Thompson, is to add not only export services but to add services and Thompson affirmed the services The Bahamas have readily available for export is the financial sector and another.
“We do not have an export base but the whole argument is that the actual financial services industry and the tourism industry are the services that we as a country already export,” he explained.
“We export our services, we don’t really export goods because we don’t have much to export. WTO is not for small developing countries.”
Pastor Glen Rolle highlighted the fact that the nation has never been properly educated on the WTO.
“You have to have protected measures for your people and we [The Bahamas] has not even prepared our people for a time like this,” said Rolle.
As the discourse continued on WTO, Dr. Archer-Cartwright echoed Pastor Glen Rolle’s sentiments on country preparedness and stressed the fact that The Bahamas is struggling with educating Bahamians in entrepreneurship and business acumen.
“We have not prepared our people. We are struggling with education; we’re struggling with entrepreneurship; we’re struggling with access to capital…all of these other countries have had years to develop and are doing very well but it is not easy for us,” she said.
According to Dr. Archer-Cartwright, the country has not had time to mature (the economy) and competing with countries like Switzerland makes no sense.
“We’re seeing that the smaller countries are being made to comply and if they don’t comply their leaders are not strong enough to say no or back out of these agreements and are being told what to do.
“It’s a loss of sovereignty in a sense,” she said.