The Bahamian government hopes to resume trade talks with Haiti as soon as possible, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said yesterday.
“We are going to continue to do all that we can to reestablish our efforts with the Haitian government to further the plans that we made in the first instance when the prime minister led a delegation… to Haiti,” Henfield told The Nassau Guardian.
“But you know, you plan to do things and then violence breaks out on the streets, and then everything is delayed for a time, and then you seek to reengage as soon as possible.
“We are seeking to reengage as soon as possible.
“The Haitian foreign minister and I had a bilateral [meeting] determined to do the same thing, and so we’re looking at how soon we can get together and start to discuss again some of the initiatives and plans that we had looked at on the prime minister’s visit.”
Last year, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis traveled to Port-au-Prince for a high-level meeting with Haitian President Jovenel Moise, where the leaders discussed strengthening trade links for the purchase and sale of agricultural products and seafood and exportable fisheries, through accepted international quality control standards.
“We look forward to the realization of the commitments that we’ve made,” Minnis said afterward.
“I personally look forward to waking up and seeing fruits and vegetables on my plate from Haiti.”
However, Henfield said yesterday that those plans stalled due to recent civil unrest in Haiti.
“Discussions on trade was a part of the initiatives which we spoke to while in Haiti, but that hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.
Violent protests raged in the country’s capital over several days last month, with protesters calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise over corruption allegations and skyrocketing inflation.
Protesters surrounded and stoned the Haitian president’s home, clashed with police in the streets, blocked roads and set cars and tires ablaze, among other things.
Several people were killed and many others injured.
In early February, at least 31 Haitian migrants died when their boat ran aground in waters off Abaco.
Haiti’s social, political and economic instability was discussed extensively at last week’s 30th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), where Henfield said The Bahamas implored other member states to invest in Haiti.
“The Haitian foreign minister, [Bocchit] Edmond, reported to heads on the situation in Haiti, which is, of course, a concern for each of us as member states of CARICOM,” Henfield said.
“His report really entailed the challenges faced by the Haitian people and the Haitian government, politically, economically and socially.
“Heads are deeply concerned. After listening to the minister’s report, heads are deeply concerned about these prevailing conditions, which seem to cause sporadic violence.”
He continued, “We had three weeks of violence recently, and so we encouraged dialogue among those parties that are involved and concerned with the wellbeing of Haiti.
“The Bahamas also encouraged heads to consider investment opportunities for their citizens or corporations or companies, as we did in The Bahamas when [the prime minister and members of the Chamber of Commerce visited].”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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