Trade in the Bahamas

The Bahamian economy is based primarily on tourism, which is concentrated mainly in Nassau and Grand Bahama. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, tourism and construction are largely responsible for a real GDP growth of about 4 percent annually since 1996.

Tariff rates are very high; the Bahamas raises some 65 percent of its revenues from import tariffs. The general rate of duty charges on imports is 32.8 percent. In addition to high tariffs, the Bahamas also charges a 7 percent stamp tax on imported goods.

There are no other significant barriers to trade. However their is a very high level of “protectionism” (that “protects” consumers from lower prices) which leads to the higher price of goods compared to the nearby United States.

The Bahamas seeks increased foreign investment. However, the government restricts foreign investment in a number of sectors: wholesale and retail operations; commission agencies engaged in import–export trade; real estate and domestic property management agencies; media and advertising; nightclubs and restaurants (except specialty, gourmet, and ethnic restaurants); security services; domestic distribution and building supplies; most construction companies; personal cosmetics and beauty establishments; some fishing operations; auto and appliance service operations; and public transportation.

Exports of goods and services: $1.8 billion

Major export trading partners: US 22.3%, Switzerland 15.6%, UK 15.0%, Denmark 7.4%

Imports of goods and services: $2.3 billion

Major import trading partners: US 27.3%, Italy 26.5%, Japan 10.0%, Denmark 4.2%

Foreign direct investment (net): $226 million