DPM Advises Caution on Haiti Trade

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Hon. Brent Symonette Minister of Foreign Affairs speaking at a forum placed by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce.

By: Lindsay Thompson

NASSAU, Bahamas – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Brent Symonette is giving cautious support to a trade arrangement with the Republic of Haiti.

“We need to move forward and find a way to increase trade. However, the difficulty is how the goods are moved. Most of it would be water borne, which brings up maritime concerns regarding drug and human trafficking,” Mr Symonette said.

He was responding to a recent trade mission by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce to Haiti to discuss possible ways in which trade can be established between both countries.

“Too long our focus with Haiti has been and will continue to be the question of illegal migration of nationals and that continue to pose a serious problem,” Mr. Symonette said on Thursday, October 4.

He also gave an overview of his visit to the 62nd Regular Session of the Untied Nations General Assembly in New York from September 27 to October 3.

Mr Symonette, who addressed the world body, said the UN session was an “impressive event”. Each UN-Member State delivered a 15-minute statement on issues pertinent to their respective population.

Among the issues for The Bahamas were Haiti and climate change, which was also a top priority for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Symonette said.

“Although The Bahamas is not a contributor to the damage done by greenhouse gas emissions, we can sensitised the developed world in that regard,” he said.

At the UN, Mr. Symonette also met with Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the topical subject and other matters relevant to Member-States.

Mr. Symonette said there are some “substantial roadblocks” and in some cases a requirement for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval regarding Haiti’s agricultural sector.

He said CARICOM has been working to lower the scale that would be acceptable in other markets so that Bahamians can have certain vegetables and other produce from Haiti.

Mr Symonette called on the UN to continue to support that island nation in its quest for political and economic stability. He said while at the UN, one of the questions he addressed was how to get nations to support the peace-keeping mission in Haiti.

Additionally, Mr. Symonette said he discussed with Haiti’s Foreign Minister the issue of moving from peace keeping to a peace-building phase, which is very important.

Mr. Symonette credited the present Haitian Government for achieving “great strides” in moving towards the full democratic process.

“It’s going to be a long road; it’s a big country. There are a number of different sides involved,” he said.