Haitian-Dominican border crackdown squeezes the poor on both sides

Last August, I thought my first visit to the Pedernales market on the southern Haitian Dominican border would be my last. The Martelly government was threatening to close the markets because Haitians were buying Dominican products there and selling them in Haiti, without paying taxes, he alleged. The Haitian customs official sitting in his shipping container-office on the Ansapit side said rumors were flying that “Today is the last day for the market.”

A year later, Martelly is looking for ways to wring more taxes for Haiti out of the border trade that the poorest on both sides depend on for a makeshift living. Finally, a mainstream U.S. outlet, the Associated Press, has picked up on it.  Trenton Daniel writes:

“Haiti’s government now wants to cut the number of days that Dominican tax-free border markets operate from two a week to one so that it can better handle the flow of commerce. Haiti also wants to boost revenue by getting tougher on collecting import duties on goods from the markets, which the country still charges even on market days.

Medina, for his part, wants to negotiate a free trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs and better regulate trade with Haiti. That would primarily benefit the Dominican Republic, which exports far more goods.

Haiti’s efforts to control the border worry both Haitians and Dominicans whose meager livelihoods depend on the border markets. Vendors fear any restrictions will only heap more hardship on some of the hemisphere’s poorest people.” Read more.



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