A report compiled by global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm Oxford Economics for the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC), on the effects of The Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), should be completed by April, the BCCEC’s lead on WTO matters Darron Pickstock told Guardian Business yesterday.
The study will be completed and released after the government has met again with the WTO working party to receive feedback on The Bahamas’ initial offer to the global trading body.
Pickstock said the government has committed to review the study and take its findings into consideration. He added that the government is soon to release a study examining the impact of WTO accession on government revenue.
“It will speak to how government intends to make up a lot of revenue shortfall,” he said.
The government is expected to have a press conference tomorrow on the state of this country’s WTO negotiations.
Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette told Guardian Business yesterday that the country is on track to meet its end-of-year deadline.
Symonette said there is a window of opportunity to fully join the WTO that The Bahamas must meet in order to be eligible, and the government still has much more work to do to prepare the country for WTO accession.
He also confirmed that the government will meet with the WTO again next month to see whether offers have been accepted or rejected.
Pickstock said some questions have arisen on the country’s investment policy.
While the government has had several consultative sessions about the WTO, Pickstock said it has not done enough to inform Bahamians about what the WTO is and what WTO accession will mean for the country.
The Bahamas officially relaunched its process for accession to the WTO at the Third Meeting of the WTO Working Party in Geneva, Switzerland in September.
Symonette led The Bahamas’ delegation and gave the country’s commitment to the process of WTO accession, but advised: “While the government of The Bahamas is fully committed to concluding its accession to the WTO, we are equally committed to ensuring that the terms of accession fully consider The Bahamas’ vulnerabilities, sensitivities and economic development needs. Ultimately, WTO accession must be, and must be seen to be, beneficial to The Bahamas’ short, medium and long-term economic prospects.”