Haiti and DR set to improve relations

Haiti’s interim President, Jocelerme Prevert, and the Dominican Republic’s new Foreign Minister, Miguel Vargas, have agreed to revive the two nation’s Joint Bilateral Commission and to resolve a number of divisive issues relating to cross-border trade, investment, transport and migration.

The August 30 meeting in Port-au-Prince and another with the Haitian Foreign Minister, Pierrot Delienne, were said by the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to signal the start of a change in the Dominican Republic’s diplomacy during President Medina’s second term in office which, according to Mr Vargas, will in part involve the country exerting greater influence on regional and international organisations.

During the visit to Haiti, Mr Vargas’ first overseas, it was agreed that the Haitian government will publish an official notice confirming there are no restrictions on the import of 23 Dominican products by land as long as the necessary customs duties are paid.

This refers to the October 2015 ban on the transport by road of 23 Dominican products that specified an alternative point of entry through a Haitian port and which had severely disrupted Dominican-Haitian trade in basic goods.

Confusingly, despite such a de facto regulation being in place President Privert told the Dominican media there had never been any such ban and that this was why the issue was not mentioned in the final communique.

“What I say is that there never was an embargo or any interference with the entry of those products. No law was ever passed prohibiting the entry of any product from any country into Haiti,” the President was quoted as saying.

The visit also served to enable the long standing issue of the high cost and slow pace of issuing documentation to Haitian nationals who live in the Dominican Republic to be addressed. This is required if such undocumented residents or migrants are to be able to complete their registration to remain under the Dominican Republic’s National Migration Legalisation Plan (PNRE).

During the visit the Haitian Minister of Foreign Relations Pierrot Delienne announced that the Haitian government would arrange to provide official documentation required by the end of October at the latest for around 112,000 Haitian nationals who live in the Dominican Republic. The meeting with Mr Délienne was described by both sides as cordial. The minister’s wife is Dominican and their three daughters study in the Dominican Republic.

In Haiti the Dominican Foreign Minister also proposed a treaty to boost bilateral trade flows “without blockages and without objections” beyond international trade rules. “It’s time to sit down and seriously discuss a treaty that energizes the flow of bilateral trade, which generates wealth for both peoples,” Mr Vargas said in remarks made during the visit.

In addition, both sides agreed to restart the Bilateral Mixed Commission meetings so that the two countries could work together on a common agenda. Dates were agreed for preparatory meetings with a possible full meeting taking place as early as October 19.

During the visit…

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