Her Excellency Maria O’Brien, Ambassador of the Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the European Union, paid a courtesy call of the Chairman, members of the Board of Directors and management of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation on Friday, July 30, 2021. In 2019, the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas was established in Brussels, Belgium to build regional and direct relationships with the European Union that is leading to sustainable and inclusive growth for the Bahamas.
Over the past 20 years, the Bahamas’ lack of presence in Belgium resulted in missed opportunities that were available from the European Union to support the development of agriculture, trade, the private sector, culture, and creative sectors through the Economic Development Fund for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Her Excellency O’Brien said since 2019, the Embassy has accomplished significant milestones by engaging bilaterally and multilaterally with the European Commission, the European Parliament, and every European Union member state and with the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific states. The Embassy has also created access to technical and financial support for local businesses to increase trade with the EU. Bahamians are now able to benefit from various programs which support development in agriculture and food security, health, water, disaster risk reduction, and energy, which is a key part of building the country’s ability to reduce the impact of the climate crisis and increasingly powerful hurricanes. Ambassador O’Brien said The Embassy wants to change the narrative among Europeans about the Bahamas being a tax haven through our culture.
Ambassador O’Brien called on the Chairman and management of BAIC to encourage the Government to explore opportunities for Bahamians to reach the global market in order to help grow the economy of the Bahamas with less dependence on tourism. She said a proposal has been presented to the Government to create the Bahamas Cultural experience in Brussels, have musicians, artists, and artisans showcase their work, and get their products onto the European market. In the photo at BAIC Headquarters from the left are: Ms. Vernita Rhodenwalt, Assistant General Manager of Human Resources, Her Excellency Maria O’Brien, BAIC Chairman Bishop Gregory Collie, Deputy Chairman Mrs. Kim Carey Gibson, and BAIC General Manager Mr. Rocky Nesbitt.