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Laing explains his role as lead negotiator for WTO

Laing explains his role as lead negotiator for WTO

The Business Community is showing reluctance to the potential of The Bahamas joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette and newly appointed WTO lead negotiator, Zhivago Laing prepare to travel to Geneva, Switzerland to introduce The Bahamas’ formal application into WTO.

Eyewitness News Monday spoke with former Minister of Finance Laing on the advantages and possible disadvantages of joining the WTO and he affirmed that the negotiations do not warrant The Bahamas joining.

Laing addressed the unknown [seemingly] fear expressed by merchants in dispelling what some may not understand about WTO.

“If business people in The Bahamas did not show concern for this process, I would be alarmed because you want them [merchants] to be concerned because that means they will invest the time and energy in understanding the process.

“It is incumbent on the trade negotiating team to walk with the business community in this process. The government of The Bahamas – the state facilitates trade, but the trading happens by business people,” Laing confirmed.

Laing assures that he will work extremely close with merchants on WTO; “it is my intention fully to have fully knowledgeable involved with the process of negotiations so we can do what is helpful to our economy and not what’s harmful.

Laing also told Eyewitness News yesterday that negotiations are not cemented in stone.

He said, “we’re negotiating the terms of our membership because the way we operate now and the way WTO wants for countries to operate so that trade can happen freely is in conflict.

“We need time to be able to eliminate some of those conflicts and to do it in a way that’s not injurious to the Bahamian economy,” Laing said.