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China's Growing Presence in The Bahamas
By Latrae Rahming
Mar 16, 2016 - 12:25:30 PM

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Finding the silver lining in Chinese State Owned invested projects in The Bahamas continues to be shadowed by the perception and suspicions that exist around the country about China's growing presence in the Bahamian economy. The archipelagic nature of The Bahamian economy creates an environment of complex financial restraints which requires the government to subsidize economic growth with Foreign Direct Investment. The posture of the country's investment policies under successive governments rule the out the possibility of discriminatory policies that prohibit inbound investment from foreign countries. The elephant in the room isn't the strong-arming of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises in The Bahamas but rather their inability to grapple with the culture shock of doing business in the Caribbean region.

China's costly mistakes are peddled by their inexperience of conducting business in unfamiliar territories with high labor cost, multi-political system coinciding with changing governments, trade unions, and having to respond to heavy public opinion driven by the intrusive media presence, and independent courts. The Chinese arechallenge with understanding complicated regulatory systems with a deep difference from China in comparison with overseas investment markets. This learning curve for Chinese enterprises in The Bahamas should be used to bridge cultural differences.

Understanding The Bahamas doing business with China simply means us capitalizing on an emerging super power to diversify its country's economic base, accelerate growth and create jobs in key strategic sectors. Nevertheless , the relationship  with China's Soft power in The Bahamas depends on Bahamians misunderstanding that has fueled a deep level of public distrust. A responsible and sustainable foreign policy for the Bahamas is one that must be inclusive of and beyond our direct relations with The United States. Countries don't negotiate, build relations, and trade because they like each other. They do so because there are mutual benefits to be achieved despite their deep differences.

The Bahamas is open for business and investment. The Bahamas’ economy’s response to global economic change requires that there must be a promotion of our strengths while identifying opportunities for future growth.The Bahamas remains committed to the identification and promotion of opportunities in key sectors where we can partner with China for mutual benefit. Bahamians have to understand the economic rationale and strategic imperative of an ambitious relationship from the perspective o fgeo-economics.

The Bahamian people should support the relationship with China as long as it is in the best interest of Bahamians. China is a partner in the rejuvenation efforts of The Bahamas tourism product. With the construction of The Pointe a world-class lifestyle and residential development in The Bahamas offering exciting amenities including a wide range of shopping and dining options, a marina, luxurious Oceanfront Residences, and an array of entertainment experiences like bowling, yacht club, state-of-the-art movie theatre, and performing arts centre. The Bahamas not only maximizes the opportunities arising from these changes but also minimizes the risks. To ensure that we are on the winning – not the losing – side of these momentous shifts.

The occurrences surrounding the Baha Mar and China Construction America leave a questionable assumption of the macroeconomic implications that state-sponsored investments of Chinese companies in the Bahamas constitutes a risk involved. The undermined reaction to this fiasco is whether or not it should be treated as an isolated affair or a deepened reflection to a taste of what's to come. To date, China remains a critical partner in The Bahamas economic diversification of its economy, despite this truth, many Bahamians have found it to be an unfavorable relationship.

It is essential to The Bahamas’ relationship moving forward with China that it is able to build an image of credibility and mutual trust. This will allow Bahamians to see China's interest in the Bahamas as truthful both in words and in deed. It's particularly important that Bahamians understand their interests to dismiss any fabricated belief to incite fear, as their views toward China are very negative and mix signal. To dismiss any misguided speculation, China has always maintained a path towards peaceful development. The country has never pursued and will never pursue dominance in The Caribbean region. It has never fallen short of its commitment to respecting other countries’ voluntary choices of social systems.

The truth about Baha Mar is many of the solutions will be unpopular. Some will cause us to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices. The most important thing about these solutions is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our economic strength as a nation. We can choose to control the situation instead of letting the future control us.

Latrae Rahming is a Senior Government Chinese Consultant with various Caribbean governmental agencies and corporations and a critical ally for any client addressing Chinese policy, legislative, and related issues.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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