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#113: Haiti gains full Caricom membership (fwd)


Haiti gains full Caricom membership   
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, July 7 (Reuters) - Haiti has been granted full
membership in the Caribbean Community  (Caricom) trade and economic
alliance, Haitian President  Rene Preval said  on Wednesday.      
``Heads of (Caricom) government have agreed to admit Haiti as a full
member of Caricom. We will prepare the legal documents and sign later
today,'' Preval told reporters at Caricom's annual summit in Trinidad.
Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, is the 15th member of
the 26-year-old regional group. It applied for Caricom membership in
1997 and was granted provisional membership pending changes in its
tariff structure. Preval said a tariff agreement had been reached and
would be  implemented over five years.  Under dictatorship for decades
and more recently paralysed by the absence of a prime minister and
parliament, Haiti's political instability had stalled efforts to improve
relations with the rest of the Caribbean. Today globalization means
first to regionalization. This is  why we are happy to enter into
dialogue with our closest neighbours,'' Preval said. Haiti's Caricom
membership must still be approved by the new parliament it will elect in
November. The addition of Haiti's 7 million people boosts Caricom's
member  population to 13 million. The group is working to create a    
single market and economy starting in 2000.