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Bahamas Falling behind In FTAA Negotiations, Warns CoC President

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

01 December 2003


The President of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, Winston Rolle, has warned that the country is falling behind other nations concerning FTAA negotiations, largely due to a lack of cohesion between the public and private sectors in the negotiation process.

"The general feeling from persons attending on behalf of the chamber is that the Bahamian private sector and The Bahamas at large is not well prepared for making a decision as it relates to FTAA," said Mr Rolle at a press conference last week.

Rolle, who was in attendance at the recent FTAA Ministerial Meeting in Miami, noted that delegations from other countries had considerable input from various private interest groups to ensure their concerns were addressed and explained that he believes that the Bahamian negotiations will be much better served by adopting a similar approach.

"We think that the government are facilitators and we the private sector and people in specific industries need to make sure that when government is facilitating, they are facilitating with as much information as they can possibly have as it relates to the effect of these decisions on our local industries," explained the CoC president.

James Gomez, a director at the Bahamas Chamber, concurred, observing that most countries employed full-time negotiators, whereas those negotiating on behalf of the Bahamas were usually working on a part-time basis.

"What we have seen with Mexico and Argentina as well as some of the other countries, they have seconded private sector individuals to work not only in the public service but as part of the negotiation team to get them through this FTAA process. They were well aware that what they need was industry experts; the industry experts had the where-with-all about the industry to guide them in the right direction," Mr Gomez announced.


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