By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- Leading entrepreneurs, from Haiti and the Dominican Republic have agreed that bans on trade products can be damaging to the business environment in both countries and called on their respective governments to address issues through bilateral channels before implementing such measures.
Ruben Silie Valdez, Dominican Republic ambassador to Haiti
During a now permanent CEO bilateral meeting, christened the Kiskeya CEO Summit, held in Port-au-Prince last week, business leaders from both Caribbean countries that share the island of Hispaniola discussed the long-standing ban imposed by Haiti on poultry imports, following a limited bird flu outbreak, on the other side of the border.
"Both sides agreed that bans of any kind negatively affect the bilateral business environment and urged their governments to seek ways to avert similar situations by consulting with each other before launching such measures," read a communiqué issued on Monday by Haiti's Prime Minister's Office.
Both parties agreed that trade issues should be addressed through the existing Joint Haitian-Dominican Bilateral Commission prior to government actions.
Sources close to the meeting told HCNN that during the discussions, held on October 3, Haitian and Dominican Republic entrepreneurs agreed that their respective governments should, while respecting phytosanitary requirements, reach an agreement to rapidly lift the ban on poultry imports from the Dominican Republic.
"I believe both sides should find a way to lift the ban that is not working because of the porous Haitian-Dominican border," a Haitian business leader, who did not want to be named, told HCNN.
"Despite the ban, we see Dominican chicken in the market place and Haitians are eating it and no one has control over the situation," he said.
The Haitian entrepreneur argued that "formal business enterprises have been punished while smugglers are sitting pretty.” Several Dominican Republic business leaders had similar comments.
The meeting, the second of its kind, took place behind closed doors under the auspices of the Florida International University's (FIU) task force on Haiti. The first one was held on August 27 this year at the FIU's downtown Miami campus.
The meeting was also an opportunity for business leaders to discuss in a respectful manner the burning issue regarding the recent Dominican Republic Constitutional Court's ruling stripping citizenship from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Haitian entrepreneurs expressed profound disappointment and concern over the negative effects of the retroactive application of such a ruling that causes so many Dominicans born to Haitian undocumented parents to become stateless.
"The Haitian group urged their Dominican counterparts to transmit that preoccupation to the Dominican government," read the Prime Minister's Office press release.
The Dominican ambassador to Haiti, Ruben Silie Valdez, told Haitian reporters the court ruling had nothing to do with the Haiti imposed ban on Dominican Republic poultry exports and explained that his government played no role in the issuing of the ruling by a court that is independent.
Business leaders believe that the Kiskeya CEO Summit is an ideal forum through which a frank and non-diplomatic dialogue can take place to help set up job creating investment joint ventures, facilitate commercial flows and identify and address obstacles blocking trade reciprocity.
Representatives of international financial institutions including the Inter American Development Bank, the European Union, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and other bilateral donors also attended the meeting as observers.
Both governments support the collaborative initiative by both business communities. They believe they help bring investments on both sides of the island.
The next meeting will take place on an undisclosed date in the Dominican Republic in November.