Trade talks begin on economic partnership agreement with the UK

Trade talks begin on economic partnership agreement with the UK
L-R: Carl Bethel, attorney general and minister of legal affairs; Sarah Dickson, British high commissioner; Elsworth Johnson, minister of financial services, trade & industry and Immigration; Brickell Pinder, director of trade; Shane Miller, deputy director of legal affairs; and Deborah Watson, director of financial services.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government met with the British High Commission in Nassau this week to discuss increasing trade between the UK and The Bahamas, primarily through the domestic ratification of the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in London last year.

The meeting was hosted by Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Elsworth Johnson; Attorney General Carl Bethel; Director of Financial Services Deborah Watson, and the newly appointed Director of Trade Brickell Pinder.

British High Commissioner Sarah Dickson was accompanied by Political Attaché Jerusa Ali.

The government is seeking to complete the domestic ratification of the CARIFORUM-UK EPA by December 2020.

According to a statement, the Economic Partnership Agreement will safeguard business access to Bahamian and UK markets as Britain exits the European Union (EU) at the end of this year.

The agreement contains the same tariff and services commitments that were negotiated initially in the CARIFORUM-EU Agreement to which The Bahamas and UK were parties.

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA commits the UK to provide immediate duty-free, quota-free access to the UK market for Bahamian exporters.

The statement read: “According to Her Majestyʼs Revenue and Customs Department, trade between The Bahamas and the UK amounted to £370m in 2017.

“In 2018, Bahamian exports to the UK were valued at $8.7m, making the UK the fourth largest market for Bahamian exports, according to The Bahamas Department of Statistics.”

Dickson welcomed the talks as a further step towards stronger economic ties.

“It was excellent to be able to discuss the trade relationship between the UK and The Bahamas,” she said.

“Both countries private sectors will need a strong government focus to support business in these unprecedented times. I know the partnership agreement is one step towards increased bilateral trade.”

In the coming weeks, the government and the UKʼs regional trade team will engage in in-depth technical discussions.

Bahamian business owners can then expect a series of virtual events to gather input to inform EPA domestic ratification process.

“Facing the global pandemic, the accompanying economic crisis, and the ongoing climate crisis, the Government is
looking to strengthen the trading relationship between The Bahamas and the UK,” said Johnson.

“To help drive and expand this trade agenda, we have brought on a new Director of Trade. With her focus on stakeholder engagement and the inclusion of new sectors like the conceptual and creative economies, the ratification of this EPA will result in new opportunities for Bahamian businesses.”

The CARIFORUM-UK EPA was signed by Ellison Greenslade, High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on behalf of the government.