National Seminar on the WTO Agreement on Agriculture

4 Jul 2018


The Ministry of Agriculture hosted the Seminar

Group Photo (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

A National Seminar on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture was held June 19th-21st, at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation Training Centre, with the objective of improving the understanding of the provisions of the Agreement for technical officers within Department of Agriculture and other key agencies within the public service, like the Office of the Attorney General.  The seminar was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.

Below are Opening Remarks from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Ms. Phedra Rahming.

The Permanent Secretary gave opening remarks

Mr. Diwakar Dixit, World Trade Organization
Ms. Keva Bain, Director of Trade
Mr. Gregory Rahming, Acting Director of Agriculture
Mr. Shane Miller, Assistant Director, Office of the Attorney General

Good morning.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is pleased to host this ‘National Seminar on the Agreement on Agriculture’ to improve the understanding of technical officers within the Department of Agriculture and other key agencies within the public service, like the Office of the Attorney General, on its provisions.

The Government has stated that the process of acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a policy priority. My ministry has sought to work closely with the Ministry of Financial Services to ensure that the agriculture and fisheries sectors, which will be affected by this process, are well-informed on the impacts at the policy and sectoral levels. At the policy level, we have established an inter-ministerial group to meet weekly to discuss issues arising from the accession process. Moreover, we have also sought to re-engage both the agriculture and fisheries sectors through their respective advisory committees on a range of policy issues including the accession process.

There are several WTO agreements which directly impact the agricultural sector including the Agreement on Agriculture, Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the Agreement on Import Licensing, and the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights. The complex interactions of these agreements, has indicated the need for well-informed technical officers throughout the public service. Additionally, current negotiations in the WTO on fisheries subsidies suggest that disciplines in this area may be in the future. At the operational level, my ministry has completed the process of selecting the executive team to head The Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) which was established to meet our obligations under the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. I am pleased to report the commitment of my ministry to the success of this organization which will have an increase in budget allocation from $500,000 in 2016/2017 to $700,000 in the 2017/2018 budget.

The issues of food security and development of the rural communities are important to my ministry. I am therefore anxious to learn from you how these objectives can be realized within the framework of the Agreement on Agriculture.

I am therefore very pleased to welcome to The Bahamas, Mr. Diwakar Dixit to facilitate this training exercise on the Agreement on Agriculture and to welcome all of you, from within the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources and outside to this training event.