NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A poultry investor said yesterday it has put ‘on hold’ its $7-$8 million investment until the government makes clear its position going forward on the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Dr Allen Albury, the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) managing director, told Eyewitness News Online the company has effectively halted its plans to establish its BSGC Broilers Production Farm with operations in Andros and Eleuthera and a depot in New Providence.
Its goal was to process 30,000 whole, fresh chicken each week, grown in eight poultry houses for 35 to 42 days with weights ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 pounds.
“We have actually placed that on hold until the government makes a determination with regards to WTO, what The Bahamas’s position will be and what type of regime will be in place for the local poultry industry,” Albury said.
“It is very unclear at this moment. We have kind of placed that on hold until the government establishes a formal position on it.
Albury said: “I think Hurricane Dorian kind of put a damper on a lot of things but it is early in the new year and I think we will have to wait and see if there is some type of position that is going to be taken. It is critically important for that position to be known for the local industry to thrive and new entrants to be able to receive a return on investment.”
Zhivargo Laing, the nation’s chief WTO negotiator the country’s said last month this nation’s WTO accession has effectively come to a standstill. Mr Laing who was addressing a National Forum on Standards Facilitating Trade noted the country is nearing the ‘record setting’ for longest accession time.
The country is at step two in a seven-step process to WTO accession, according to Laing, who said the average time for WTO accession is nine and a half years.
Laing said: “It was government’s aim to conclude our accession by the next ministerial conference in June of next year. That will not happen.
“Since the next meeting will not occur for another two years after that, and it takes a ministerial conference to approve your accession, the next earliest The Bahamas will be able to do so is in 2022 – and I don’t need to tell you what happens that year.”
The Bahamas continues to hold observer status going on its 19th year towards WTO accession.