Trade export strategy part of economic diversification efforts
Commonwealth Brewery and John Watling’s Distillery tapped as immediate beneficiaries
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — In an ongoing effort to support the government of The Bahamas’ initiatives for economic diversification, Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of The Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the European Union Maria O’Brien sought assistance under the African, Caribbean, Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) TradeComm II Programme to develop a trade export strategy for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The ACP-EU TradeComm II Programme aims to reduce poverty, improve sustainable economic development and encourage regional integration through capacity-building, which is critical in The Bahamas’ efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The expectation is that the exports of goods and services in traditional emerging sectors, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME), will strengthen a viable sector of The Bahamas. The assistance provided by the TradeComm II Programme will be implemented in conjunction with the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration to assist with streamlining bureaucratic procedures, market intelligence gaps and logistical constraints in the complex business environment that Bahamian exporters encounter.
This technical assistance will create a framework that provides timely and reliable trade information for business decision-making, enabling Bahamian businesses to have easier access to the export markets.
O’Brien stated that the project would access approximately $30 million (€24 million) in financial support implemented by the Caribbean Export Development Agency under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Private Sector Development programme.
This targeted support to develop the export strategy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will be bundled with support for the local rum sector. Industry research discovered that rum production relied heavily on consumption at a national level and that the tourism industry was ineffective in sustaining consumption levels through the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some of the raw materials required for manufacturing rum locally are imported from European countries, there is minimum export of the final product. Export opportunities will focus on existing markets that were successfully penetrated by the United Kingdom and Cuba, including Spain, Germany, Australia and the Czech Republic. Notably, Ireland ranked 36th in rum imports, with The Bahamas accounting for U$4.5 million of rum exports to Ireland in 2017. However, the research conducted by the EU indicated that The Bahamas could provide 73.3 percent of the total Irish rum imports.
The bundle project will have access to the Caribbean Rum Programme under the ninth and tenth EDF original budget of approximately $83 million (€70 million). The project is expected to provide the government with a comprehensive export strategy that prioritizes export sectors based on competitiveness, job creation, foreign exchange earnings and value-addition, capacity building and training activities for private and public sectors to be export-ready and to improve regulatory and operational for exports to emerging markets.
O’Brien identified Commonwealth Brewery Ltd and John Watling’s Distillery as the immediate beneficiaries of the project, but expects that newcomers to the industry will also benefit from this programme.
The Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Industries and Immigration for the trade export strategy and the rum sector project will be supported by local technical experts Robby Thompson and Edison Sumner, chairman of the Bahamas eCommerce Advisory Board.