flag Bahamas Bahamas: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

The Bahamas is very open to trade, which represents 76% of its GDP.  However, the country aims to reduce its dependence on a single sector and to further develop its foreign trade, so the Government is actively pursuing a policy of diversification and liberalisation of its economy. In spite of its high custom duties, complex rules and regulations on imports, the country has a liberal trade policy. The Bahamas mainly imports passenger and cargo ships (35.8%), refined petroleum (23.7%), special purpose ships (11.2%), crude petroleum (2.55%), and recreational boats (1.85%). Its main exports are passenger and cargo ships (49.5%), refined petroleum (8.2%), nitrogen heterocyclic compounds (7.11%), crustaceans (6.4%), and styrene polymers (5.3%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by 22.3% in 2021 and is expected to continue to recover in 2022, when exports should increase by 71.2%. As for imports, the volume of imports of goods and services decreased by 0.2% in 2021 and is expected to increase to 29.8% in 2022.

The Bahamas maintains close economic and political ties with the United States, which is by far its largest trade partner, both in terms of trade and investment. The country's main partners besides the United States, are Poland, South Korea, Japan, China, and Ecuador. The Bahamas participates in a number of trade agreements, including the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and the CARICOM Canada Free Trade Agreement, and is working towards joining the WTO. The Bahamas – along with 14 more Caribbean countries – signed with the EU the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, aimed at making it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and thus to help Caribbean countries grow their economies and create jobs. The agreement also comes with substantial EU aid for trade.

Most of the country's industries are concentrated in Freeport, the second biggest city after Nassau, where a free trade zone has been operational since 1955. Due to low domestic production and high demand drawn by tourism, the Bahamas is very dependent on imports. The country's trade balance is structurally negative, a situation which should continue in the coming years. According to the latest available data from the WTO and the World Bank, in 2020, imports of goods totalled USD 1,9 billion, while exports equalled USD 354 million, resulting on a negative balance of USD 1,8 billion. Concerning the trade of services, the Bahamas imported USD 1,196 billion and exported USD 1,253 billion, resulting on a negative balance of USD 57,000.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,3403,1083,3173,0731,937
Exports of Goods (million USD) 440571642669354
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,6401,7301,6641,6511,196
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,8222,8094,0724,4141,253
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 49-41n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 22104n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,150-2,538-2,675-2,404-1,824
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 74767876n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37403837n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37363939n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Products

n/a bn USD of products exported in 2017
Polymers of styrene, in primary formsPolymers of styrene, in primary forms 0.0%
Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh,...Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, even smoked, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 0.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 0.0%
Yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports;...Yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports; rowing boats and canoes 0.0%
Hand tools, incl. glaziers' diamonds, of base...Hand tools, incl. glaziers' diamonds, of base metal, n.e.s.; blowlamps and the like; vices, clamps and the like (other than accessories for and parts of, machine tools); anvils; portable forges; hand-operated or pedal-operated grinding wheels with frameworks 0.0%
See More Products 100.0%
n/a bn USD of products imported in 2017
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 0.0%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 0.0%
Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats...Furniture and parts thereof, n.e.s. (excl. seats and medical, surgical, dental or veterinary furniture) 0.0%
Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species...Meat and edible offal of fowls of the species gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls, fresh, chilled or frozen 0.0%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of...Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 0.0%
See More Products 100.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows

 
 

Main Services

1.3 bn USD of services exported in 2020
76.95%
16.74%
3.51%
2.80%
1.4 bn USD of services imported in 2020
41.25%
15.73%
15.61%
11.07%
7.96%
4.25%
3.67%
0.46%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Commercial Policy

International Economic Cooperation
Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Member of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Member of Association of Caribbean States (ACS)

Assessment of Commercial Policy
Bahamas and WTO
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
30.58%
 
 

Trade Compliance

International Economic Cooperation
Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Member of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

Member of Association of Caribbean States (ACS)

Useful Resources
Bahamas Customs Department
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Registrar General's Department.
 
 
 

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Latest Update: October 2022