International investors find the inability to enter those sectors of the economy reserved only for Bahamians to be a major challenge to investment in the country, according to the 2019 Investment Climate Statement by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
“Investors find the prohibition of foreign investment in 12 areas of the economy to be a major challenge to investment in the country. The current government set a goal of accession to the WTO by the end of 2019, which would require opening these protected sectors to foreign investment. The accession timeline may be delayed,” the report notes.
The Bahamas’ current goods and services offer to the World Trade Organization (WTO) opens 106 sectors except legal services, landscape architecture services, market research services, multi-modal courier services, franchising, educational services, hospital services and maintenance and repair of vessels.
The areas that remain reserved for Bahamians are wholesale and retail operations, commission agencies engaged in the import/export trade, real estate and domestic property management agencies, domestic newspapers and magazine publications, domestic advertising and public relations firms, security services, domestic distribution of building supplies, construction companies – except for special structures for which international expertise is required, personal cosmetic/beauty establishments, commercial fishing within the exclusive economic zone of The Bahamas, auto and appliance service operations, public transportation inclusive of locally solicited charter boat tours and landscaping.
Earlier this month, Zhivargo Laing, the country’s chief negotiator for WTO accession, said it’s unlikely The Bahamas will meet its imposed deadline of June 2020 for accession, and “we may be in the process for several more years if ever we do it”.
Each year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs analyzes the business climates of more than 170 economies that are, or could be, markets for U.S. businesses.
The bureau pointed to the country’s political stability, “educated English-speaking labor force, well-capitalized and profitable financial services infrastructure, established rule of law and respect for contracts, independent judicial system and high per-capita GDP”, as positive aspects of the investment climate.
JUMPLINE: Current WTO goods and services offer opens 106 sectors