The Abaco Chamber of Commerce working with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) and the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Immigration, held a seminar at the Conference Room at the Office of the Prime Minister on October 5, 2017.
The Seminar introduced participants to the recently opened Trade Information Service Portal which is a website that can expose businesses who export or who hope to export to international trade markets.
According Chara Walker, who manages the site, the Portal was designed to create a “one-stop-shop” to access important national, regional and international trade information, such as export/import statistics, information on trade regulations such as quality requirements and standards, certification requirements and rules of origin, as well as shipping information, company profiles and key information on trade agreements.
After discussing how the portal works and its potential benefits to local businesses interested participants were invited to make application to have their business listed.
Speaking on incentives and access to trade agreements including CARIFORUM and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe Ava Rodland, Project Manager in the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Immigration advised that while it is difficult due to economies of scale for businesses, especially small and medium businesses, in The Bahamas to become involved in trade that there are still opportunities out there.
She said that small to medium companies need to focus on how to make their business grow, how to make it more efficient and start by dominating the local market.
She said that while under the EPA market access is available – conditions are favorable to Bahamian companies to enter the European market – it doesn’t facilitate market penetration. That ultimately depends on the capacity of the company to ultimately penetrate the market and meet the demands of the agreement.
“We have incentives locally through legislation that encourages companies – such as the Industries Encouragement Act – which helps them reduce their costs and be a little more competitive,” she said.
She also added that The Bahamas has high electricity costs and high labor costs, which impact profitability and competitiveness, “but if you have the capital to invest in a neighboring country where some of those conditions are more favorable for manufacturing then why not do it?”
“There are opportunities abroad, it’s just a matter of who is going to take it by the horns and take advantage of the opportunities,” she said.
President of the Abaco Chamber of Commerce, Vado Bootle said that the Chamber wanted to expose Abaco individually and collectively to exporting and to realize that there are markets available to them outside the Bahamas that they have the possibility to do business with.
He said that “the more we can grow our businesses locally the more we can grow the economy of the Bahamas. The potential for fisheries, agriculture and the like are immensely enormous outside of our small country.”
Mr. Bootle said that there are markets outside of our country that can exponentially grow a business, “So if you are manufacturing it’s a great way to look at diversifying whatever it is you do.”
He added that “we are here to help bring this type of seminar to Abaco and we look forward to seeing more of these events to continue to benefit businesses and ultimately grow the economy.”
Mr. Bootle would like to see more businesses become a part of the Chamber of Commerce as the benefits can help small, medium or large businesses to grow and to employ more people making for a better economy.