BCCEC engages firm to conduct study on pros and cons of joining WTO

BCCEC engages firm to conduct study on pros and cons of joining WTO

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) has hired an international economic analysis firm, Oxford Economics, to produce an independent report on the pros and cons of The Bahamas joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The independent study will provide the BCCEC with fact-based information concerning whether or not joining the WTO will be the right move for the country, according to Darron Pickstock, BCCEC WTO representative.

Pickstock said the chamber will not make a decision on whether to support the country’s accession to WTO, until the report is completed in April.

“Given the importance of trade to our national economy there has been significant public discourse about WTO accession and its potential impact on our economy, business and people of The Bahamas. Therefore, the chamber found it critical to engage Oxford Economics in order to obtain an independent study before it can make an informed and fact-based decision whether it thinks it is beneficial for The Bahamas to join the WTO,” Pickstock shared.

Last week, government’s lead negotiator, Zhivargo Laing, made public the country’s goods and services offer which was officially submitted to the WTO in August, 2018.

The paper, which outlines The Bahamas’ terms for accession, also includes recommendations and responses from member countries including the United States (US).

Jeffery Beckles, President of the BCCEC said the chamber will spend the next two weeks gathering feedback on that report in order to make informed recommendations to government.

“This feedback is critical,” Beckles said.

“While we have taken the initiative to have our research done, there are other facets of the chamber that are also out there seeking information as well with the view of being able to come back to government, at appropriate times during this fluid discussion, and hopefully those bits of information that will come back will allow government to be able to take a second look at maybe a position or two that may be enhanced for the benefit of the Bahamian people.”

Laing has indicated that government will seek to engage the opinion of the business community before presenting an amended version of the country’s goods and services offer to the international body.

Laing confirmed that the meeting with WTO executives will take place in February.