The Hon. Frederick A. Mitchell
Minister of Foreign Affairs

On the occasion of the 6th anniversary of international trade relations between The Bahamas and China, the countries have signed a Bilateral Maritime Transportation Agreement. This positions The Bahamas for “Most Favoured Nation” status treatment in terms of the Bahamian-registered ships entering Chinese ports. The previous tariff assessed under a differential status was considered a disadvantage to owners of Bahamian-registered ships.

The agreement was signed on behalf of The Bahamas by the Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service, while Vice Minister of Communications Shanxiang Hong signed for the People’s Republic of China. Minister Mitchell said the bilateral agreement will be helpful to The Bahamas in its promotional efforts for ship registry business.

At the signing ceremony yesterday, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport, said *”This agreement is significant also because China is becoming a major force in international shipping and is now the world’s largest shipbuilder, with many Bahamian-registered ships being built.”*

Minister Hanna-Martin also noted that China Ocean Shipping, the largest Chinese shipping company, recently placed three of its newly-built containerised ships on The Bahamas Ship Register.

The Bahamas, the world’s third largest “Flag State, maintains over 1400 ships on its Ship Register, totalling in excess of 34 million gross tons. The Bahamas Maritime Authority maintains offices in Nassau, London and New York, with plans for another office to open in Greece. The BMA also operates an agency in Tokyo.

J. Mervyn Jones, Director of The Bahamas Maritime Authority has said that one of the reasons why The Bahamas is popular as a “flag” is that the ship registry is part of a wider appeal of The Bahamas as a major tourist attraction and financial centre. *”In each of these industries – tourism, finance, and shipping – the aim of the Bahamian Government is to focus on quality.”* The Director also maintains that the ongoing policy for the Authority has been “growth with quality” — demonstrated by the number of high quality owners now using the Register. In addition to these high standards, its success can be attributed to many of the factors that have positioned the country as a leading financial services centre: a progressive legislative and judicial system, political stability, neutral tax regime, and competitive fees.