His Excellency

Mr Paul Andrew Gomez

High Commissioner of the Bahamas

When did you arrive in London? Have you brought any family with you?

I arrived in London on 28 April 2023, approximately one week ahead of the various Coronation activities for His Majesty King Charles III, during what was obviously a very special time in the United Kingdom, and across the world.

As a widower with two children (Paul Andrew II and Adrienne Dominique) and five grandchildren who are all quite busy, I travelled to London with my three sisters, Nickola, Nathalie and Lisa. It was a period of great transition and a time to meet new people.

My posting as High Commissioner to the Court of St James’s started at a fast pace, because both our Prime Minister, the Hon. Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis, and Foreign Minister, the Hon. Fred Mitchell, along with a significant delegation of Bahamian dignitaries, were in London for the Coronation, and many successive meetings were arranged.

I am comfortable in predicting that attending His Majesty’s Coronation will be the highlight of my appointment to the UK. I was further honoured to escort Dame Marguerite Pindling to Coronation events over the three-day period, which was a wonderfully rewarding experience. A former First Lady of The Bahamas for 25 years, Dame Marguerite also served as Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Dame Marguerite’s late husband was Sir Lynden Pindling, ‘the father of the nation,’ the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party that lead the country to its first majority rule government in 1967. Sir Lynden was also the first Prime Minister to serve an independent Bahamas, starting on 10 July 1973.

Incidentally, at age 90, Dame Marguerite was named the 16th ‘Best Dressed’ at the Coronation by Veranda.com, a great recognition for both Dame Marguerite, and for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Is there anything particularly interesting or surprising you have observed about your time in the capital so far?

London is a well-organised and traditional city, and it is good to experience its rich history, which is well preserved and celebrated.

Can you tell me about your family and upbringing? Do you think it influenced your choice of career in accountancy and now diplomacy?

I am the second of six children to Bahamians Patrick and Jeanie Gomez, and I have five siblings, one brother (Craig Tony), who is older by eighteen months, and four younger sisters (Nickola, Nathalie, Michelle and Lisa). Thank God my parents are still alive – both are 85 years of age.

From a very early age our working-class parents stressed the importance of education, hard work and respect for others. They had a significant impact on my choice of career.

My siblings and I are quite fortunate that we all had an opportunity to attend college: my brother and I are both chartered accountants, my sister, Nicola, is a computer programmer and she is also the incoming President of Pilot International (Global). Nathalie and Lisa studied business, and Michelle is a Chemical Engineer.

I previously served as Managing Partner for Grant Thornton, a company of chartered accountants and management consultants, for almost 20 years, prior to being appointed The Bahamas’ Ambassador to China in December 2015.

In November 2019 my firm merged with my brother’s firm, the Bahamas member firm of Baker Tilly International, also a top ten global accounting and consulting firm.

I should note that at home with our parents, we were always taught to be respectful of everyone, consequently, diplomacy has come naturally to me.

How will your experiences of a lengthy career in accountancy and management assist you in the role that you have today?

As a profession, accountancy is about structure, organisation, principles, accurate reporting and credibility. These qualities are also the foundations of effective diplomacy, even though it is an entirely different discipline that requires teamwork with diplomatic experts. In the corporate world, management is about advancing the affairs of an individual company or organisation, however, diplomacy refers to managing the affairs of a country.

What were the major issues that you dealt with as the Bahamas’ Ambassador to China (2015-17)?

During my time in China, there was a heavy emphasis on promoting business relationships between the host country and The Bahamas. At the time, before the COVID pandemic, China had a significantly larger diplomatic and economic global footprint, and a powerful positive impact on The Bahamas’s number one industry, tourism.

To place this in context, the two major hotels in the Bahamas were financed and built by the Chinese: Bahama, which is considered a mega hotel that operates three top-shelf global hospitality brands on its massive beachfront property: Rosewood, SLS and Grand Hyatt. (Grand Hyatt has the largest casino floor in the Caribbean). Also, China Construction America built the state of the art The Pointe Hotel, which operates the world-famous Margaritaville brand.

During my posting as Ambassador to China, The Bahamas’ Embassy was quite active in areas of business, culture, education and social outreach. I also met many interesting people from the diplomatic, business and cultural arenas in China, and was essentially able to glean a better understanding of key operational and strategic mechanisms of global business. I was recalled after a change in government in May 2023.

What are your main plans and priorities for your role as High Commissioner in the UK?

Our primary focus in the UK is to maintain and strengthen diplomatic ties between our two countries, and our second objective is to promote stronger commercial ties in areas of education, culture, finance, agriculture, light assembly and tourism.

The Bahamas is essentially a service-based economy, and it is important for Bahamian high commissions and embassies around the world to explore potential synergies in industries and economic disciplines that strengthen and educate The Bahamas.

The Bahamas is proud to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and my experience is that the Commonwealth Secretariat contains some smart people, starting with Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland. Also, there are some youth and nature-based initiatives being developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat that seem almost tailored to address some of the challenges faced by The Bahamas. We are grateful to be independent, yet also belonging to global organisation of 56 countries.

In the run up to COP28, what climate issues are on the agenda for The Bahamas?

The Bahamas has considerable experience dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes, and we are constantly devising plans and strategies to mitigate the loss from deadly hurricanes that impact all Bahamians.

As a small country, The Bahamas continues to follow best practices regarding climate change, and our Prime Minister, The Hon. Philip Brave Davis, has spoken extensively, and internationally, in support of global initiatives to address climate change.

Following Brexit, do you think that the UK-Bahamas relationship is changing at all?

The Bahamas and the UK are perhaps enjoying the best relationship in decades. King Charles III and our Prime Minister are good friends, and that is a fantastic foundation for our two countries to do some wonderful things.

What do you think is currently The Bahamas’ greatest diplomatic challenge?

In our relationship with the UK, The Bahamas really does not have a single identifiable diplomatic challenge. The UK and The Bahamas are good friends, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

However, regionally in the Caribbean, we face various challenges regarding illegal migration (to The Bahamas).

What has been the most memorable day or event of your career to date?

As I’ve mentioned, attending the King’s Coronation must be one of the highlights of my diplomatic career. But then in the weeks thereafter, being granted an almost 40-minute audience with His Majesty and discussing a wide range of issues together was also quite special.

Meeting Chinese President, His Excellency Xi Zinping, at the Great Hall of The People in February 2016 was interesting too.

Are there any particular hobbies and interests that you enjoy?

My hobbies now are rowing, swimming and walking, and I love basketball. When I visit The Bahamas, I teach my grandkids the fundamentals of basketball, and because they love the sport, they are developing quite well.