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Bahamas must solidify its plan B amid U.S.-China ‘trade war’

With the United States-China “trade war” escalating quickly, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Beckles said the dispute between the world’s two largest economies highlights just how important it is for The Bahamas to have a “plan B” for trading.

Economists in the United States have said the stalled trade negotiations could significantly impact global growth.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week announced an increase in tariffs on $200 billion in goods from China from 10 percent to 25 percent. China’s President Xi Jinping followed this week by increasing tariffs on $60 billion in goods from the U.S.

“It behooves us then to look at a plan B. What if this argument between these two giant economies continues and for a sustained period of time, where I tax you, you tax me? We’re in the middle, which means that we won’t feel it directly but I think that’s the reason why we should continue to look for other trading partners, so that in the event that we do have these challenges we can mitigate some of the effects, we won’t mitigate all of it,” Beckles said in an interview with Guardian Business.

“Obviously because they are the two largest economies in the world, it makes good business sense to pay attention to what’s going on with them. On the other hand, we must also be minded that while the discussions appear to be a trade war between the two, we must still proceed with our trade reforms and it may mean that Bahamian merchants will have to buy direct from China and not through the United States as an option. But it’s always prudent to pay attention to these big trade disputes between economies like that.”

In response to the trade dispute, U.S. markets slumped on Monday, leading economists to point to the danger a prolonged conflict could have on not just the two nations, but the possibility of a tenuous global economic turn.

“As far as world recession is concerned, I can’t imagine that either party would want to see another global recession, as it doesn’t do anyone any good. Particularly the United States is not looking for another recession right now, things are going relatively well for them if you read what they put out in their economic forecasts,” Beckles said, cautioning that now is the best time for The Bahamas to reform its trade position.

“I don’t know if it’s specific to The Bahamas in terms of us being ready for it, I think that’s the reason why it’s important to pay attention to the discussion and where it could possibly lead. Now, is that going to test our resiliency? By all means. But I think this is part and parcel why the whole conversation about how The Bahamas gets involved in trade on the global scale is so important for us. Because at the end of the day, yes these are the two leading economies in the world, but they’re not the only trading partners in the world.”

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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