Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Bahamas to Start WTO Accession Working Group Meetings

Bahamas News is reporting that on September 14, 2010, the Bahamas negotiating team will participate in the first WTO Working Group meeting in Geneva concerning the accession of the Bahamas to the WTO. See http://www.bahamasb2b.com/news/2010/09/bahamas-to-become-wto-member-1935.html

All CARICOM Member States are members of the WTO except the Bahamas and Montserrat.

The WTO web-site reports that this meeting has been anticipated for quite some time.  A Working Party to examine the application of the Bahamas was established at the WTO General Council meeting on 18 July 2001. The Bahamas gained observer status in 2000. The Bahamas submitted its Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime on 17 April 2009. For more information, see http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/a1_bahamas_e.htm

It must be remembered that the Bahamas will be negotiating as a developing country and has special interests of such small and developing countries. WTO members hopefully will be mindful of the status of the Bahamas during the negotiating process.

The people and government of the Bahamas will have to realize that changes to the domestic legal system and domestic laws will be required as international obligations are undertaken.  In other words, along with WTO membership comes change.  Some of the international resorts will push for greater trade liberalisation in trade in services.  Some industries and professions (such as the legal profession) will be more focused on limiting liberalisation in trade in services. I would anticipate that the problems will involve trade in goods (such as agricultural products, sugar and textiles/apparel), trade in services, including financial services, intellectual property rights and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures.

The first step in important --- so, let's focus on the positive first step and wait to discuss the obstacles when they appear.

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