|Haiti seeks equal partnership in CARICOM|
|Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:07|
Further integration was the key focus for Haitian representatives at the recent 33rd Meeting of CARICOM Heads of State, held in Gros Islet, St. Lucia.
Speaking at the summit, President Michel Martelly urged for new initiatives supporting "more equal terms" between Haiti and the region, according to an official statement. Proposals included the adoption of French as an official language for CARICOM, as well as the appointment of more Haitian officials at the Georgetown, Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat.
Martelly also announced Haiti's bid to host the 2015 CARIFESTA festival. Set to return in 2013 after a five year hiatus, CARIFESTA is an art and music exhibition established to promote art production in the region. CARICOM representatives have endorsed Haiti's request to host the event in 2015.
Addressing concerns of Haiti's role within CARICOM, a Haiti-CARICOM Memorandum of Understanding was signed by officials to promote more institutional building and investment facilitation between Haiti and the region. A task group is scheduled to meet before July 31 to develop a course of action for the memorandum. Haiti will also join a new regional task force responsible for examining the proposed Joint Economic Ventures project.
President Martelly and Haitian Minister of Commerce Wilson Laleau also met with Foreign Minister of The Bahamas Fred Mitchell to discuss the lifting of current bans on Haitian agricultural products exported to The Bahamas.
Mitchell cited government concerns about the sanitary procedures of Haiti's agricultural exports, but did acknowledge some unnecessary regulations. He pointed to Haiti's booming mango industry, which "are of excellent quality," but still "have to go through the United States before being shipped to The Bahamas."
Mitchell stated that "some progress has already been made on the matter," but the decision was still being considered by the Customs Department and The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture.
Martelly also held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer, where they discussed the development of an economic partnership agreement allowing sharing of technical expertise for the large infrastructural development projects in Port-au-Prince. Spencer announced that a delegation from Antigua and Barbuda will arrive in Haiti shortly for further discussions.
At the summit, it was also confirmed that Martelly will serve as the next chairman for CARICOM, starting January 1, 2013.