Above: Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Dominican Minister of the Presidency Gustvao Montalvo in Juan Dolio on Thursday (Photo: OPM Haiti)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have signed a new trade agreement, the two sides announced following high-level talks on Thursday.
The meeting in the Dominican town of Juan Dolio between sides led by Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Dominican Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo were the resumption of planned monthly high-level talks between the neighbours on Hispaniola.
Among the agreement’s provisions were a decision to establish mechanisms for consultation and monitoring to remove barriers that did not meet international standards; mechanisms to ensure the sharing of information and the promotion of awareness of national trade regimes; a reporting apparatus to communicate new standards on trade and investment opportunity procedures and the confirmation that trade of goods and services would be conducted through four agreed-upon customs offices: Ouanaminthe-Dajabon, Belladères-Commendador, Malpasse-Jimani, Anse-a-Pitre Pedernales, among other provisions.
The two sides also agreed to create a commission to promote binational investment, co-chaired by Lamothe and Montalvo and the ministers of economy and finance of the two countries and including members of the private sector.
The talks also addressed the continued issue of documentation and citizenship both for Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and for Dominicans of Haitian descent. The latter group was thrown into controversy late last year when a Dominican court ruling effectively stripped all Dominicans born to Haitian parents “in transit” in the country of their citizenship.
The Dominican Republic has enacted a new “regularization” plan to give those affected the chance to reapply for citizenship.
Montalvo and Lamothe addressed these issues, although the former stressed that “our goal from day one has been to assert, once and for all, the law and the rule of law in the whole of [the Dominican Republic], in the same way that the Haitian government has the right and duty to preserve them in theirs.”
He said he also welcomed efforts by Haiti to document its own nationals, offering the Dominican Republic’s support in that process.
While Thursday’s talks had been delayed for several months, they were the third held this year since the formation of an initiative to do so earlier this year.
“I am not exaggerating if I say that in these seven months of talks, our bilateral relations have advanced more than in the last 50 years,” Montalvo said.