NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Whether the government can commit to enacting needed economic reforms apart from acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains to be seen, according Darron Pickstock, a former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) representative said yesterday.
Attorney Darron Pickstock said: “The WTO process is at a standstill.Obviously, the government has other priorities inclusive of Hurricane Dorian recovery. Even prior to the hurricane when I sat in my capacity as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s trade and investment division the government had stated that the 2020 date was not something that was hard and fast. When we last met the government said they were minded to proceed with joining the WTO but whether that is priority is another matter.”
Pickstock previously headed the Chamber of Commerce’s trade and investment division.
He continued: “Some of the concerns were that if they had not continued to proceed, some of the reforms slated under the WTO will not happen. Do we need to join the WTO to make those reforms, no we don’t, but they haven’t been done. Whether they will continue with those reforms outside the WTO is anyone’s guess but what is certain is that we do need those reforms.
“The Ease of Doing Business Committee had turned over a number of reform recommendations to the government and there were a number of reforms and legislation the government would have had to pass to become a member of WTO. Quite frankly those pieces of legislation would have improved our ease of doing business, competition laws and overall competitiveness as a country. We saw that as a way to get those legislation passed and improving our competitiveness and the ease of doing business.”
The country’s chief negotiator Zhivargo Laing on Wednesday confirmed it is “95 percent unlikely” the government will proceed with World Trade Organization (WTO) accession in this current term. However, Laing said if accession does not happen within this term – it won’t happen in the next decade.