The Bahamas: WTO Impact Assessment7 May 2019

Oxford Economics LogoThe report provides an independent assessment of the potential economic impacts of WTO membership

The Government of the Bahamas (GOB) has recently renewed its efforts to become a full member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In light of these ongoing accession negotiations, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation has commissioned this report to provide stakeholders with an independent assessment of the potential economic impacts of WTO membership.

While it is generally recognised in mainstream economics that WTO negotiated Accession and trade liberalisation are likely to bring efficiency gains and economic growth, some worry that smaller domestic industries could be damaged by an increase in foreign competition when trade barriers are lowered. There are also concerns about the potential negative impact on existing trade imbalances and the public finances. These concerns led to the commissioning of this study, with the remit of the consultants being:

1. Profile of The Bahamas economy and key focus sectors: An analysis and trend assessment of The Bahamian economy over the last ten years, including analysis of select focus sectors: tourism/tourism related businesses; financial services; wholesale and retail; construction; professional services/service sector; light manufacturing industries; exporting industries; This included consultation with stakeholders to take into account their concerns and experiences;

2. Regulatory profiling of key focus sectors and implications for WTO accession: Survey and analysis of recent WTO accession experience in 3 comparable jurisdictions. Benchmark current governance and regulatory profile of key industry sectors and subsectors in The Bahamas (including existing and proposed legislation, license requirements, performance grades and/or standards, and regulatory bodies) to help establish which are mature and those which may be more vulnerable;

3. Modelling to quantify the economic impact of the two alternative policy scenarios for accession: An assessment of the potential impacts of accession to the WTO on the Bahamian economy generally, and by each focus sector; associated cost and benefit of trade protection; impacts positive and negative on Government revenues; financial modelling of various accession scenarios to assess potential impacts and performance under various material conditions identified by the consultant and varying rates of time; analysis of the benefits and costs of various accession scenarios; and

4. Policy recommendations and negotiating strategies

The study provides recommendations on an appropriate strategy for negotiating accession, set in the context of the country’s broader economic development needs and policy priorities. The study does not offer a view of whether or not The Bahamas should join the WTO. Rather it gives a factual analysis that provides a basis for decision-making.

Click here to read the report in its entirety.