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Statement by the Prime Minister at Opening of the MBA Hongkong Office



 Good Morning.

I am very pleased to be here for the official opening of this Maritime Authority Office, the first commercial venture by The Bahamas in the Far East.

Some 13 years ago I had a hand in the establishment of our first honorary consular presence in this city. Then in September, 1998 we opened a career consular office. At that time, we fully expected that our commercial arm, that is our Maritime Authority would follow shortly thereafter because we believed that this was an ideal location from which to attract additional ships to out Registry; for a number of reasons that did not transpire.

So today has been a long time coming.

I want to acknowledge and congratulate Mr. Ian Fair, the Chairman of The Bahamas Maritime Authority for the leadership he is providing at the Maritime Authority and to acknowledge the long years of dedication and selfless service to this sector by our Maritime Attaché in New York, Mr. Peter John Goulandris, who has proven to be invaluable because of his knowledge and expertise in the shipping field.

We are happy also that Commodore Davy Rolle, former Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force today heads the Bahamas Maritime Authority, as it first Bahamian Director.

Permit me also to acknowledge and thank Mr. John Meredith, our Honorary Consul in Hong Kong beginning in January 1998 for his advice and assistance and to also recognize and thank Hutchison Whampoa for its invaluable assistance and support in establishing our presence in this city.

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, Caribbean, South America and trade lanes to European, Mediterranean, Far Eastern and Australasian destinations.

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. It is not an exaggeration for me to say that the dream was deferred until the arrival in Grand Bahama of Hutchison Whampoa in the middle of the 1990s and the construction of its major container transshipment port.

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.

And so it gives me great pleasure to declare The Bahamas Maritime Office, Hong Kong, officially opened.

Thank you.