Bahamas looking to Jamaica, Belize for greater collaboration under EPA

Friday, March 16, 2018

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NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — A senior Bahamian private sector official says he hopes local companies would together with their counterparts from Jamaica and Belize be more aware of the opportunities offered by the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM)-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

The accord, which was signed in 2008, replaces the trade component of Lomé IV and its successor Cotonou agreement in 2000.

Speaking at the CARIFORUM-EU EPA workshop on Thursday, Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), Michael Foulkes, said Bahamian companies were already taking advantage of the opportunities provided by international trade partnerships and is supportive of efforts to build awareness for the private sector.

“Today, we have SMEs ready to export or who are currently exporting and who are participating in this workshop; and it is hoped that they together with their counterparts from Jamaica and Belize will, at the completion of the workshop, be more aware of the opportunities offered by the CARIFORUM-EU European Partnership Agreement.”

Foulkes said the Bahamas is 'privileged' to be a part of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and through BAIC, supports the work of Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) in building awareness and heralding opportunities that exist for the private sector.

“We wish to state that the Bahamas continues its firm relationship with CARIFORUM as we together discuss innovative ways of developing trade opportunities and the opportunities which exist for the private sector and Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” said Foulkes.

He said BAIC's mandate is to 'stimulate' and 'encourage' the creation, expansion and promotion of Bahamian SMEs and 'assist' those businesses in developing and enhancing profitable opportunities for domestic and international trade.

He told the workshop that the BAIC meets this objective by providing research and feasibility studies, industrial land for lease at concessionary rate, access to development funding, access to buyer markets, handicraft development training, and business monitoring and evaluation.

“I, therefore, wish to report that in 2015 BAIC through its Handicraft Development Department exported Bahamian-made product inclusive of straw, shell and coconut product to a free trade enterprise, El Puente in Germany with an export value in excess of US$70,000,” he said.

“While the sum is not large, by any measure, it is a beginning,” he said, adding that the BAIC's Property Management Department has been able to assist many small and medium enterprises such as Switcha Bahamas and Bahamas Striping Limited.

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