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17097: (Chamberlain) Haiti and the Bahamas (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(Nassau Guardian, 1 Nov 03)

Diplomatic agreement almost reached with Haiti


The diplomatic agreement being negotiated between The Bahamas and Haiti is
almost finished announced Haitian Ambassador Harold Joseph on Thursday.

Addressing the Kiwis Club of Nassau at a meeting held at the British
Colonial Hilton on Thursday under the theme " The Role of the Haitian
Embassy in The Bahamas", he said

Both nations have already had three bi-lateral meetings, the first being in
June 2002 and the third in May 2003.

"The technicians or specialists of both countries are working on an
agreement and this agreement is almost finished and it has been submitted
to both Governments for analysis and follow-up," Ambassador Joseph said. "
If the agreement is signed, we will have a Joint Commission and it will be
to follow up on the terms of the agreement but it would also be to promote
relationships between the two countries, and also to discuss the
differences that may exist between the two countries."

"The actual state of affairs between The Bahamas and Haiti, if I had to
give it a grade, I would say that we're on good terms," he said.

Emphasis has also been made on the cultural facets of both nations he said
noting that to better understand each other - this must be achieved.

Ambassador Joseph is also poised to promote commercial trade relations
between Haiti and The Bahamas.

Ambassador Joseph said that commercial relations between Haiti and other
islands within the Caribbean are not significant he said.

However, statistics between these countries and notably The Bahamas are
complimentary he said.

"The Bahamian economy is one of service and Haitian's economy is one that
is based on agriculture. To give you an example, to import mangoes to The
Bahamas - and I have Haitian mangoes in The Bahamas, but they have been
imported from Miami. I don't see why The Bahamas cannot import directly
from Haiti," said Ambassador Joseph.

It would be cheaper he said.

He further noted that The Bahamas does not produce coffee, which Haiti does
so there is no competition with our country in this industry.

"I see no reason why The Bahamas cannot import coffee from Haiti. Also, the
minimum wage here in The Bahamas is high - $150 a week, which is $30 per
day. In Haiti, the minimum wage is less than a dollar per day.

"There are things that are impossible to produce here in The Bahamas but if
you enter into joint ventures you can produce them and export it. That is
exactly what the Americans are doing," he said.

Adding that they are going into the Caribbean and into Jamaica and Haiti
with things that are already pre-cut and assembled in Haiti and then export
them to the United States.

"The Americans do it. The Canadians. The Europeans they all do this. So I
don't see why we, members in the Caribbean can't do the same thing," he

Ambassador Joseph noted that Haiti has an investment code, and according to
the code, investors may benefit from certain preferences, and can import
machinery without paying taxes, and raw materials also without paying tax.

Regarding income tax, in Haiti, it all depends on the sector employed; the
company does not pay taxes he said.

"This is why I believe that Bahamians and Haitians can work together for
exporting the complimentary. And this is why under my administration here
at the embassy in Nassau, I will do my best to promote commercial trade
relations between both countries," he said.

He noted however, that one of the biggest problems in the Caribbean is

"That's why we cannot have inter-trade just because of transportation. If I
wanted to go to Trinidad and Tobago, I have to go down to Miami. I cannot
go directly to Trinidad.

"If I wanted to go to Mexico, or Santiago or Barbados, I have to go to
Miami first and after that, travel to the place you want to," said the
Haitian Ambassador.

"If we could solve that problem of transportation, I think we could have
better trade relations between our countries," he said, alluding to the
similar concern that has been expressed by both CARICOM and the United

"I think that is a big problem. If we can solve that, we could have some
trade relations. Without that, it would be difficult," he said.