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The Bahamas expects more cooperation with Chinese investors

By Chen Meiling | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-21 18:22

The Bahamas expects to open direct flights to China and establish more cooperation in tourism and financial services with Chinese investors, officials said in April.

As a North American country with a population of just 400,000, the Bahamas features the many uninhabited islands in the Caribbean Sea, the world’s only pink beach and a low-tax banking system for both corporations and individuals.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Bahamas. Celebrations including a fashion show, art exhibition and gala will be held starting May 26, said Pau Andrew Gomez, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

The country will have a 130-square-meter booth to display its tourism and investment resources in the upcoming 2017 Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services held from May 28 to June 1, he said.

Since the Bahamas has a service-based economy, the event is very suitable as it focuses on tourism, ministration, hotel and other financial services, he said.

"We expect to bring China and the Bahamas' businessmen together to see if it can be converted into real economic activities," he said.

As the only Caribbean country in which businessmen are allowed to do trading in RMB, many Chinese people have made investments in the Bahamas, mainly concerning ports, luxury hotels and resorts.

The Export-Import Bank of China provided loan of $410 million to build a new port in Abaco, an island in the northern part of the country in 2012. It cooperated with China Construction America, a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corp, to construct Baha Mar resort, to be completed by the end of 2019, according to Setter Yang, Consular Assistant of the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

They expect to build more budget hotels with no more than 45 rooms to attract tourists from Europe, America and the large market of China, she said.

Paul said they also welcomed Chinese banks to the area to engage in retail banking.

There are 600 global banks in the Bahamas, and visitors can use almost any bank card from anywhere in the world, he said.

"Financial services are the second-largest industry of the Bahamas. We have financial facilities, international business companies and many reputable lawyers, financial planners and analysts."

More potential investment opportunities lie in other industries of culture, education, healthcare and manufacturing, he added.

He said Chinese investors have provided job opportunities in the Bahamas. The port project of the Export-Import Bank of China, for example, created about 7,000 jobs.

Last year saw 3,000 Chinese tourists visit the Bahamas, according to Paul.

"Though the two countries share visa-free travel for 30 days, challenges exist in the distance," he said. "We are working on opening direct flights between Beijing and Nassau, capital of the Bahamas, or Shanghai to Nassau."

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