BCCEC still in fact-finding mode; has not yet taken position on WTO accession
In light of recent anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) protests, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) has reiterated that it continues to collect information from government and the private sector, and is waiting on the completion of a report on the WTO from global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm Oxford Economics, before it can make an informed and fact-based decision on whether it thinks it is beneficial for The Bahamas to join the global trade body.
A group calling itself Bahamians Against WTO held an anti-WTO town hall meeting Wednesday night and a march yesterday in protest of The Bahamas’ accession to the WTO.
BCCEC’s lead on WTO matters Darron Pickstock told Guardian Business yesterday that the BCCEC applauds the government for releasing this country’s goods and services offer to the WTO on Wednesday. He said the chamber is currently in the process of reviewing the document and engaging its members.
New chamber CEO Jeffrey Beckles also said yesterday that the BCCEC is still in fact-finding mode and has not yet taken a position on WTO accession.
“We hear all the anti-sentiments, but it would be improper to respond to those things without facts,” he said.
Pickstock explained that the government has committed to using the Oxford Economics report commissioned by the BCCEC to make decisions and inform its negotiations with the WTO.
He said the government has been extremely supportive in providing information for the report.
Beckles said the BCCEC is advocating on behalf of its members, and by extension those businesses that are not members.
“Whatever we do is a benefit to the wider business community,” said Beckles.
Pickstock said Bahamians should visit the WTO’s website to become better informed on The Bahamas’ WTO accession bid.
“We debate issues in our country or issues of national importance, and they should be debated in a factual manner,” he said.