Bahamas - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers
Last published date: 2022-10-19

High Tariff rates:  

The Bahamas has the highest average duty rate in the Western Hemisphere at roughly 30 percent.  Tariffs on some consumer goods run as high as 65 percent and reach 100 percent on imported items that compete directly with locally produced goods.  In 2015, the government introduced a Value-Added-Tax on both domestically produced and imported goods and services that generates 45 percent of government revenue.  To incentivize economic activity the government lowered or eliminated tariffs in the construction, agriculture, fisheries, and renewables sectors.  Additional information on tariff rates, including rates applicable to frequently imported items, can be accessed via the Bahamas Customs and Excise Department website. 

Non-Tariff barriers:  

The Bahamas employs several non-tariff barriers to trade including reserving 15 sectors of the economy for Bahamian investors, namely: 

  • wholesale and retail operations;  

  • commission agencies engaged in import/export trade;  

  • real estate and domestic property management;  

  • domestic newspapers and magazine publications;  

  • domestic advertising and public relations firms;  

  • security services;  

  • domestic distribution of building supplies;  

  • construction companies, except for special structures in which international expertise is required;  

  • personal cosmetic and beauty establishments;  

  • commercial fishing;  

  • auto and appliance service operations;  

  • public transportation inclusive of locally-solicited charter boat tours;  

  • nightclubs and restaurants except specialty, gourmet, and ethnic restaurants and those operating in a hotel;

  • domestic gaming;

  • cabotage.   

Foreign investors interested in participating in the reserved areas are required to submit a project proposal to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA).  BIA submits a recommendation to the NEC, which must approve all applications for foreign investment.  To improve the application process, fast-track FDI, and mobilize local investments the new administration announced plans to establish the independent agency Bahamas Invest.  Although not fully operational, bureaucratic delays, functionality, and transparency are expected to improve under this new agency.  The Bahamian government prohibits seasonal imports of certain sensitive agricultural items, including tomatoes, onions, cabbages, hot peppers, sweet peppers, poultry, and watermelon which compete directly with locally produced products.   

The Bahamas Health and Food Safety Agency oversees food and safety standards, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures.  The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality oversees quality control standards.