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Bowe: Bahamas must defend sovereignty against major trade partners

China’s growing economic presence in The Bahamas is not overly concerning, but The Bahamas must protect its sovereignty from all of its significant trade partners, Chairman of the Clearing Banks Association (CBA) Gowon Bowe said.

Last year The Bahamas imported $53.8 million in goods and services from China and exported goods and services valued at just $426,396.

“In recent times it’s just been more public in terms of the presence of the Chinese, but the U.S. has had a business presence here for many years and continues to be here. Even from the private sector community, you’d be surprised by how many business ventures still do come in and trade missions that still do visit. Our relations between the two is really about which one is more public at the current point in time,” Bowe told Guardian Business.

“We’ve seen a number of large private developments that have had Chinese investments, and that’s different because they’re coming in as commercial private parties and so whilst there is an economic contribution, it is very different from an actual government-to-government relation. So from that perspective it is about how we manage expectations upfront. We certainly should be mindful about diminishing our sovereign authority or strength by accepting things that are gratuitous, that may have a ‘remember your friends’ message.”

The increase in trade between The Bahamas and China comes in the midst of an intensifying trade war between the United States and China, which has the potential to stall global economic growth.

The Bahamas was caught in the middle of the fray last month when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier accused China of enabling corruption, eroding good governance and stealing countries’ sovereignty and natural resources.

In response, a spokesman for the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas challenged the U.S. government to contribute more to Caribbean and Latin American countries, rather than “indiscriminately pinning labels on others” and “politicizing the economic and trade issues”.

“When we think about geopolitical strategies, I’m sure every country has various strategies they will deploy in order to build allies around their cause and we would be naïve if we didn’t believe that both the U.S. and China are doing that,” Bowe said.

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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