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Dominican Republic, Haiti could reach free trade agreement by 2009

Dominican Today

Dominican Republic, Haiti could reach free trade agreement by 2009

By Alexandra Pope

24 February 2008

SANTO DOMINGO. - The possibility that Dominican Republic and Haiti could sign a free trade agreement as early as next year is being met with approval by commercial, governmental and industrial sectors, as well as economists and poultry producers, newspaper El Caribe said Sunday.

The National Council for Private Enterprise (Conep), the Association of Young Business Leaders, Secretary of Industry and Commerce Melanio Paredes, the Federation of Industrial Associations (FAI), economist Hugo Rivera and the Association of Poultry Producers of the North, agree that the negotiation process would yield positive results, but that the idea merits deep study.

Lisando Macarrulla, president of Conep, said Haiti as a market has great importance for Dominican Republic and presents the advantage of being accessible by overland routes. However, he suggested analyzing the agreements established by the European Economic Community and Caricom with respect to Haiti because “we would have to consider aspects beyond the purely commercial,” he said.

Paredes said the countries of the European Union have always connected the economic destinies of Haiti and Dominican Republic and at times have expected this country to do more for the other than what they were able to. “Any initiative undertaken as an island would formalize our commercial relations, which surpass US$700 million, and would help with the disappearance of cartels, spurious mechanisms and other elements characteristic of informal commerce.”

Pablo Piantini, president of Anje, said each country would have to come to the negotiating table, defend their products, and define appropriate parameters for the phasing out of tariffs. He added, “An agreement with [Haiti] would be better than with the European Union, even with its additional 25 countries.”

FAI president Ignacio Méndez agreed, saying Dominican Republic had an obligation to sign an agreement with Haiti before any other nation due to the nature of their commerce.