|Pinder ‘encouraged’ after WTO meetings|
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Jun 27, 2012
The conclusion of meetings between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and The Bahamas has both sides optimistic about the forward progress being made, with the minister of financial services saying the country is on the right track.
Ryan Pinder told Guardian Business that the meetings, conducted last week in Switzerland, revealed that all parties appear to be on the same page.
“After my two-and-a-half days in Geneva I left there very encouraged and very humbled by the international support for The Bahamas,” Pinder said. “Although this is a negotiation, all in all we appreciate that the delegation followed through on its commitment, and the enthusiasm we showed was very well received.”
The WTO also was impressed after the meetings, as the organization “praised” The Bahamas for the “considerable progress” made in undergoing reforms to its trade regime to bring it in line with the global trading body. Twenty member countries were involved in the meetings, and raised questions ranging from technical barriers to trade to export/import regulations.
Pinder mentioned that a high emphasis was placed on forming trade agendas that will increase opportunities for Bahamians from a business perspective. The member countries were responsive to the message being conveyed, the minister noted.
Chairperson of the WTO Working Party Wayne McCook said The Bahamas has “considerable work ahead” of it, as adherence to WTO rules require domestic reforms along with putting in place the necessary enforcement infrastructure. Pinder said the next step will be to conduct a number of meetings within the government and continue bilateral country-to-country negotiations.
However, he admitted that keeping the public well informed of what is happening during the accession process is very important.
“We will have a dialogue with the Bahamian public and list the advantages that will come with WTO accession and how we will prepare them for it,” Pinder said. “We want to reinforce certain industries like agriculture, and we are seeking support from the WTO and trading partners to build up the agriculture industry and provide those opportunities. In everything we do, we want to build up the Bahamian people.”
According to the WTO website, The Bahamas is in the seventh stage of its application process, which is the market access negotiations phase. The first Working party meeting was held in September 2010. Pinder expects to have another group session in early 2013.