Executive

Lamothe Committed to Closing Markets on Haiti-DR Border Amid Smuggling

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - Public markets along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border serve more as points where Dominican products enter Haiti duty-free, rather than centers of mutual trade, according to the Haitian government who is seeking to close down the marketplaces along the 225 mile border.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who visited the border region over the weekend says that "there are no markets per se, there is a situation where Haiti opens its gates 2 days a week and does not collect custom duties..."

"No Haitian products are let into the DR [in these zones] on DR to Haiti," the prime minister continued in a communication.

PM Lamothe at Malpasse

The border markets could mean huge losses in tax revenue from imports according to statistics obtained by DH and the Haitian government.

In 2003, the Dominican Center for Export and Investment ranked Haiti as D.R.'s 3rd largest importer, trailing the United States and Puerto Rico.

Two years later, in 2005, Haiti would climb to second place, replacing the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as the number 2 importer, and largest importer of domestic products, such as eggs, wheat flour, pasta, rice, vegetables and fruits.

Lamothe estimates the losses along the border at about $10 million [US] per week as Haiti's borders remain open.

Border Residents Unfavorable to Measure

Traders in two border towns, Dajabon and Pedernales, reacted unfavorably to the proposal of Prime Minister Lamothe. The President of the Federation of Dajabon Merchants, Freddy Morillos said that a measure of this nature would be a blow to small and medium businesses in both nations and that the most affected would be the Haitian middle class.

Ninoska Camilo, President of the Women's Association of New Hope, Dajabon said the plan by the Haitian prime minister would bury people on both sides of the border and increase smuggling, crime and human rights violations.

Father Regino Martinez, President of the Border Solidarity Organization expressed total opposition to the proposal by the top Haitian official saying that it would not end smuggling. "What was done in the light of day for many years, will be made clandestinely at night."

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