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Bahamas PM holds “constructive” talks with European Union

By CMC

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Prime Minister Minnis (second from right) flanked by his delegation at the talks with EU officials

(CMC) – Prime Minster Dr. Hubert Minnis is due to return to The Bahamas later on Wednesday after holding “constructive” discussions with senior officials of the European Union in Brussels.

Minnis, who headed a delegation that included Attorney General, Carl Bethel, Tuesday met with Stephen Quest, director general of the Directorate Generale for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission, and senior EU members.

The Directorate Generale is responsible for the implementation of taxation policy in the European Union.

“Both parties agreed that the meeting was very constructive. This meeting allowed The Bahamas to ensure that the European Commission clearly understood the importance to The Bahamas of its longstanding relationship with member states of the European Union, in particular our trade relationship under the Economic Partnership Agreement,” Minnis said.

A government statement said that the parties also discussed the implementation by Nassau of commitments agreed and recently enacted to further and to maintain good economic relations with the European Union.

It said that Tuesday’s meeting between the prime minister and the director general is part of an ongoing process which included prior technical meetings. It provided the opportunity for the prime minister to reaffirm the commitments of The Bahamas at the highest levels.

“The meeting also allowed the attorney general to give an overview and discuss the new legislative regime with the director general. The director general welcomed and appreciated the presence of the prime minister, and the significant commitment demonstrated on behalf of The Bahamas,” the statement noted.

Earlier this month, Nassau said it was developing a new framework aimed at strengthening industry regulations and protecting revenues to the public treasury as it relates to enhancing the financial services sector.

Finance Minister K. Peter Turnquest said he was working to maintain the country as “a global leader in the financial services industry and ensure that the country’s second economic pillar remains vibrant over the medium and long term”.

The move comes amidst concerns in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to pass legislation that addresses concerns raised by the EU.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada have already passed legislation while other Caribbean countries are contemplating doing so as Europe moves to force countries to adopt measures regarding the establishment of international businesses in the region.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has since called for a unified CARICOM position on the matter.

The statement said that the meeting in Brussels “demonstrates the commitment of The Bahamas to protecting the financial services sector, while maintaining a relevant and competitive position of the sector, and to take all possible proactive steps to protect our national economic interests”.

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