This Country Strategy Paper (CSP) presents the framework which will govern EU cooperation with The Commonwealth of The Bahamas for the period 2008-2013.

The Bahamas comprises 700 islands and about 1 000 cays, of which only 30 are inhabited. Its population of 306 000 people (2007) is essentially of African (85%) and European (12%) origin. More than three quarters of the total population are concentrated on only two islands: Grand Bahama and New Providence (with the capital Nassau), the latter containing two thirds of the whole population. The other main islands - the Outer or Family Islands - have small populations, basic infrastructure and a much lower standard of living; there is a strong migration movement from the Family Islands to New Providence and Grand Bahama. The annual growth rate of the population is 0.6%. The Bahamas rank 52 on the Human Development Index (2006); average life expectancy is 67.5 years. GDP per capita is high: $18,932 (2006) (€ 12 1501).

There is a significant amount of poverty in the more remote south-easterly islands of the Bahamas, which was first revealed in the results of the 2001 Living Conditions Survey. A considerable amount of infrastructure development is therefore required, to boost trade and economic growth and ultimately eradicate poverty.

The aim of the Response Strategy continues to be, as in previous years, to reduce regional socio-economic imbalances in the Bahamas. This should entail greater capacity-building in infrastructure development on the south-easterly islands of the Bahamas, bringing them to the level of New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and the other more developed islands. The thrust of the strategy is to achieve sustainable economic growth and stability and continuous improvements in living conditions.

The activities funded by the 10th EDF should focus on the infrastructure sector. Providing adequate physical infrastructure is considered to be a critical requirement for continued growth and competitiveness, particularly in the tourism industry. This is also relevant for the Bahamas' economic relations with the EU and could be part of a regional effort to promote services trade. It is clear that the need for adequate infrastructure is greatest in the Family Islands. A review of the previous activities funded by the 7th, 8th and 9th EDF shows that they are all related to infrastructure projects: this is an area in which the Government of The Bahamas has constant need of aid and is one of the areas in which the EC has a comparative advantage as a donor.

The focal area of the EC Support Strategy for the Bahamas will be Capacity Development for the Family Islands. The aim is to increase capacity to: 1) improve local infrastructure and ensure better maintenance; and 2) increase Family island participation, development and production in the areas of goods and services.

The indicative programme of € 4 700 000 is broken down as follows:

Focal Area Envelope: A 90% or € 4 230 000
Non-Focal Area: 10% or € 470 000

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