Chapter 1: Doing Business In The Bahamas
The Bahamas offers potential investors a stable democratic environment, relief from personal and corporate income taxes, timely repatriation of corporate profits, and proximity to the United States with extensive air and communication links, and a good pool of skilled professionals. The Bahamas is a member of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), Canada’s CARIBCAN Program, and the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement. The Bahamas officially welcomes foreign investment in tourism, banking, agricultural and industrial areas that generate local employment, especially white-collar or skilled jobs. The vast majority of successful foreign investments, however, have remained in the areas of tourism and banking.
Nevertheless, in the wake of unstable oil prices and high energy costs, Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (GCOB) is reviewing proposals for alternative energy sources. This is expected to create opportunities for foreign direct investment in the energy industry. The Government reserves retail and wholesale outlets, non-specialty restaurants, most construction projects, and many small businesses exclusively for Bahamians.
? The Tourism sector directly contributes 22% of The Bahamas’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Financial services constitute the second most important sector of the economy and accounts for up to 15% of GDP. Agriculture and industry together account for less than 10% of GDP. While the country’s largest export is service, some commodities such as chemicals, plastic goods, pharmaceuticals and industrial salt are produced for export.
? The Bahamas provides good basic infrastructure for businesses. However, utility rates are considered high compared to the U.S. The electric company BEC and the phone company, BTC, are government owned. Since 1992, the Government has improved some major roads both in Nassau and on the Family Islands, implemented changes to alleviate severe traffic congestion in Nassau, provided electricity and improved airports on most Family Islands, and has constructed a second bridge between Nassau and Paradise Island. There is regular air and sea transportation between the major developed islands and the United States. Telecommunication service is generally adequate but delays in service installation and maintenance are common. There are several Internet service providers in Nassau. Mail service is slow both among the islands and with other