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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Bahamas aims to reduce its dependence on a single sector and to further develop its foreign trade. The Government is actively pursuing a policy of diversification and liberalisation of its economy. In spite of its high custom duties, complex rules and regulations on imports, the country has a liberal trade policy. The country is not a member of the WTO, and free trade under CARICOM (the Caribbean Community and Common Market) faces a strong domestic opposition. Nevertheless, the Bahamas is very open to trade and commerce represents more than 85% of its GDP (2015). In October 2008, the Bahamas – along with 14 more Caribbean countries – signed with the EU the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, aimed at making it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other and thus to help Caribbean countries grow their economies and create jobs. The agreement also comes with substantial EU aid for trade.

Most of the country's industries are concentrated in Freeport, second biggest city after Nassau, where a free trade zone has been operational since 1955. Due to low domestic production and high demand drawn by tourism, the Bahamas is very dependent on imports. Its trade balance is structurally negative, a situation which should continue in the coming years. The Bahamas is the 132nd largest export economy in the world. In 2015, the Bahamas exported USD 1.87 billion and imported USD 8.67 billion worth of goods and services, resulting in a negative trade balance of USD 6.8 billion.

The Bahamas mainly imports fuels, equipment and machinery, consumer goods, manufacturing goods and foodstuffs. Its main exports are polystyrene and other plastic materials, fishing products and organic chemical products. The Bahamas maintains close economic and political ties with the United States, which is by far its largest trade partner, both in terms of trade and investment. However, China has become more present. The top export destinations are Poland, the United States, the Dominican Republic and India. The top suppliers are the United States, China and Japan.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,3863,1663,3092,7802,340
Exports of Goods (million USD) 984955859520440
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,5221,6151,7131,1941,640
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,6482,6312,6712,6952,822
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10-311-16-2
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7-0-3-72
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,401-2,211-2,510-2,434-2,150
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 1041001048684
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 5956614744
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 4444423940

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2015
United States 83.1%
France 4.4%
Finland 3.2%
United Kingdom 1.4%
Canada 1.2%
South Africa 0.6%
Barbados 0.6%
Brazil 0.5%
Argentina 0.5%
Australia 0.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2015
United States 81.9%
Dominica 1.5%
Japan 1.1%
France 1.0%
Brazil 0.9%
China 0.8%
Canada 0.8%
Panama 0.8%
Netherlands 0.7%
Dominican Republic 0.7%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

Main Products

0.4 bn USD of products exported in 2015
Polymers of styrene, in primary forms 19.5%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 15.9%
Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked beforehand by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 13.3%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 11.1%
Yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports; rowing boats and canoes 4.9%
Salts, incl. table salt and denatured salt, and pure sodium chloride, whether or not in aqueous solution or containing added anti-caking or free-flowing agents; sea water 4.7%
Hand tools, incl. glaziers' diamonds, of base metal, n.e.s.; blow lamps and the like; vices, clamps and the like (other than accessories for and parts of, machine tools); anvils; portable forges; hand or pedal-operated grinding wheels with frameworks 3.6%
Rail locomotives powered from an external source of electricity or by electric accumulators 3.2%
Machinery parts not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter (excl. parts containing electrical connectors, insulators, coils, contacts or other electrical features) 1.1%
Paintings, e.g. oil paintings, watercolours and pastels, and drawings executed entirely by hand (excl. technical drawings and the like of heading 4906, and hand-painted or hand-decorated manufactured articles); collages and similar decorative plaques 1.0%
3.2 bn USD of products imported in 2015
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 16.5%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.3%
Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture) 2.2%
Plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of non-cellular plastics, not reinforced, laminated, supported or similarly combined with other materials, without backing, unworked or merely surface-worked or merely cut into squares or rectangles (excl. self-adhesive products, and floor, wall and ceiling coverings of heading 3918) 1.4%
Bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other bakers' wares, whether or not containing cocoa; communion wafers, empty cachets of a kind suitable for pharmaceutical use, sealing wafers, rice paper and similar products 1.4%
Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls, fresh, chilled or frozen 1.3%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 1.3%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 1.1%
Inorganic compounds, incl. distilled or conductivity water and water of similar purity, n.e.s.; liquid air, whether or not rare gases have been removed; compressed air; amalgams (other than amalgams of precious metals) 1.1%
Undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of < 80%; spirits, liqueurs and other spirituous beverages (excl. compound alcoholic preparations of a kind used for the manufacture of beverages) 1.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 
 

Main Services

8.2 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Travel
84.97%
Other business services
8.85%
Transportation
4.50%
Government services
1.67%
5.2 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Construction services
37.39%
Transportation
23.71%
Other business services
16.53%
Travel
12.30%
Insurance services
8.34%
Royalties and license fees
1.13%
Government services
0.53%
Communications services
0.06%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 
 

Trade Compliance

Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Member of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Member of Association of Caribbean States (ACS)

Useful Resources
Bahamas Customs Department
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Registrar General's Department.
 
 
 

 

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Last Updates: July 2017