Bahamas Trade Mission to Washington, DC Strengthens Business Linkages
14 Mar 2018
Chamber planned Trade Mission in partnership with the Bahamas Embassy
In 2017 the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) CEO, Edison Sumner, traveled to Washington, DC to engage with the various Chambers in the DC area with a view to organizing and leading a delegation of private sector representatives to DC to seek business and investment opportunities.
Those deliberations proved fruitful and after several months of planning the BCCEC was able to lead a private sector delegation to DC in partnership with the Bahamas Government, through the Bahamas Embassy in Washington, DC, on 5-7 March 2018.
The Trade Mission comes at a time when The Bahamas is moving toward greater participation in the world trading system at both the regional and international levels. In fact, the nation is positioned to become a full World Trade Organisation (WTO) member by 2019 and since 2008 has been a signatory to the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Membership in both trading regimes, if maximized, has the ability to grow and diversify the Bahamian economy.
The delegation comprised private and public sector individuals
The delegation represented a good balance between the private and public sectors and was led by BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner on the private sector side and Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson on the public sector side.
Additional delegates included:
• H.E. Sidney Collie, Ambassador of The Bahamas to the U.S./Permanent Representative to the OAS
• Mr. Theo Neilly, Consul General in Washington, DC
• Mr. Derek Newbold, Senior Business Manager, Grand Bahama Port Authority
• Ms. Cheryl Cartwright, Attorney, Callenders & Co.
• Mr. David Knowles, CFO, Bahamas Faith Ministries
• Mr. Arlington Capron, Broker/Owner, ReMax Luxury Bahamas
• Mr. Darron Pickstock, Director of the Trade, Foreign & Domestic Economic Development Division, BCCEC
• Mrs. Charo R. Walker-Morley, Trade Services Manager, BCCEC
• Ms. Vandia Sands, Marketing Representative, Ministry of Tourism and Aviation
• Mrs. Dornell Watson-Dean, Senior Business Manager, Ministry of Tourism and Aviation
• Ms. Marcia Sands, Trade and Investment Officer, Bahamas Consulate in Miami
• Ms. Ronique Brown, Economic Attache, Bahamas Consulate in Atlanta
• Mr. Conrad Jones, Officer in the Ministry for Grand Bahama
• Ms. Krissy Hanna, Embassy
• Ms. Janine Gibson, Embassy
• Ms. Jade Williams, Embassy
• Mr. Mikhail Bullard, Embassy
• Mr. Felipe Major, Embassy
Meetings with the US Chamber of Commerce and US Department of Commerce
Meetings were held with the Association of American Chambers of Commerce for Latin American and the Caribbean/U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Department of Commerce on the first day of the Trade Mission.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the delegation met with Mr. Neil Herrington, Senior Vice President for the Americas as well as Kendra Gaither, Senior Policy Director of the Americas Department, International Affairs Division and Isabel Quiroz, Senior Manager of the Americas Department, International Affairs Division.
The discussions at the U.S. Chamber highlighted the friendly investment climate in The Bahamas and the opportunities for inward investment flows. There was also a focus on the need for reciprocal business between the two countries and greater collaboration.
The meetings at the U.S. Department of Commerce were led by Mr. Alexander Peacher, Acting Office Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. There were presentations from six persons in that office or related offices that all highlighted the support that the U.S. Government provides to American companies that either seek to export or do business abroad. The Department serves as the voice of business for the U.S. and works to increase U.S. exports.
Much of what the Department does can serve as a blueprint for the BCCEC and public sector relative to the assistance that can be provided to Bahamian companies that are engaged in export.
Meetings at the DC Chamber of Commerce and IDB
The second day of the Trade Mission was spent at the DC Chamber of Commerce and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The evening ended with a Trade Showcase/Reception at the IDB.
At the DC Chamber meetings, welcome remarks were given by Ambassador Collie, Senator Kwasi Thompson, and Mr. Edison Sumner. All of the remarks underscored the fact that The Bahamas is investment ready and an ideal place to do business given the stable economic and political environment, skilled and educated workforce and modern banking and financial services system, among other attributes.
Business and investment presentations were given by DC Chamber representatives and Bahamian delegates.
The business matchmaking segment of the day afforded Bahamian businesspersons the opportunity to discuss their businesses with their DC counterparts in their respective sectors. In situations where there were no Bahamian businesses present Chamber/Government representatives were engaged. This aspect of the day was beneficial for all involved. The discussions were lively and real connections were made that the Bahamian delegation is eager to follow up on.
Another highlight of the day was the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the BCCEC and the DC Chamber. The MOU will strengthen business relations and develop reciprocal cooperation between both Chambers.
The meeting at the IDB centered on discussions on the IDB’s private sector support and public sector initiatives in The Bahamas.
Following the presentations and discussions, a Bahamas Trade and Investment Showcase/Reception was held where approximately 100 persons attended. There were positive interactions at the exhibition booths and this served to further augment the objectives of the Trade Mission.
Meetings at the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce
The final day of the Trade Mission was spent in Baltimore interacting with the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce representatives.
The day followed the same format as the day prior. In their opening remarks, Mr. Theo Neilly, Senator Kwasi Thompson, and Mr. Sumner all highlighted the advantages of The Bahamas for the inflow of foreign direct investment. Mr. Sumner also highlighted the importance of cultivating strong relationships between the delegation and the Baltimore Chamber representatives during the course of the day.
Business and investment presentations were given by Baltimore Chamber representatives and Bahamian delegates. There were also business matchmaking sessions.
Finally, a Memorandum of Understanding was concluded between the BCCEC and Baltimore Chamber to strengthen business relations and develop reciprocal cooperation.
The Mission proved to be a great private-public partnership
The Washington, DC Trade Mission proved to be a great partnership between the BCCEC and the Bahamas Government, through the Bahamas Embassy in Washington, DC.
Throughout the Mission, the BCCEC’s initiatives and services were well presented and the attributes of the Bahamas, as an ideal location for inward investment flows, were well articulated.
The business matchmaking sessions allowed the private sector delegates to promote their respective businesses. The public sector delegates were also able to use the sessions to promote The Bahamas.
The Trade Showcase further bolstered the goals and objectives of the Mission.
Overall, the Washington, DC Mission was a success and will serve as a template for future Missions to come.