The Rt. Hon. H.A. Ingraham, M.P., Prime Minister of The Bahamas, was in Hong Kong today for the official opening of the [Bahamas Maritime Authority]( (BMA) Office.

The Prime Minister said, *“Today, The Bahamas is a vibrant and growing maritime centre. It is estimated that maritime affairs now represents a vital 20% of our economy. We believe that this city of Hong Kong is a critical location from which we can support and grow this important sector. We also believe that Hong Kong, a leading financial services centre in this region, is an important market from which we may not only grow our visitor numbers but also attract additional persons to our second home market and as investors in other segments of our economy be it tourism, financial services or light industries and manufacturing.“*

The BMA office was described as the first commercial venture by The Bahamas in the Far East. The first Honorary Consular presence was established in Hong Kong some 13 years ago, followed by the establishment of a career Consular Office in 1998.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the contributions of persons playing pivotal roles in the sector, including Mr. Ian Fair, the Chairman of The Bahamas Maritime Authority; Maritime Attaché in New York, Mr. Peter John Goulandris; Commodore Davy Rolle, BMA Director; and Mr. John Meredith, Bahamas Honorary Consul in Hong Kong. He also took the opportunity to recognise and thank Hutchison Whampoa for its invaluable assistance and support in establishing The Bahamas’ presence in Hong Kong. *“Indeed, it would be remiss of me if I were not to acknowledge the seminal role played by Hutchison in taking our longstanding maritime sector to another level, as they say. The Freeport Harbour and Container Port in Grand Bahama is the major container transshipment hub between the Eastern Gulf coasts of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and trade lanes to European, the Mediterranean, Far Eastern and Australasian destinations.”* He continued, *“Hutchison’s operations in Freeport, Grand Bahama and the related and spin-off businesses that have located in our Second City have made it possible for us to realize the dream of Freeport’s founders, who in the middle of the last century had a vision of that city as a major container transshipment and ship repair centre.”*