Haiti builds a wall to control trade with Dominican Republic

“Surprise is what townsfolk of Comendador in western Elías Piña province express upon seeing a ‘waling wall’ being built by the Haitian Government at the community Carrizal, some eight kilometers from Dominican Republic’s Immigration and Customs offices,” reports Dominican Today.

“The wall’s construction has also sparked complaints from Haitian and Dominican merchants who claim that they will have to pay tax twice for the same goods, first at the country where exits and then at destination.”

Not since the 1990s when the Dominican Republic initiated the border markets that sparked trade with Haiti, profoundly enriching DR coffers, has the Haitian government taken a proactive role in the trade. Now, two years after announcing its goal of extracting revenue from the inter-island trade between the countries, the wall is one of a series of moves putting the Martelly administration’s goals into practice.

“Quoted by eldia.com.do, Elías Piña senator Adriano Sánchez Roa said the Haitian authorities’ measure looks to charge more taxes, which could stoke the social difficulties of Haiti’s poor even further.”

Senator Rios’s statement hints at the underlying reality that neither side is willing to compromise on a balanced trade scenario that would distribute revenues more equally while offering favorable terms to the two countries’ poor. While the Haitian government’s moves will make life harder for poor Haitian women traders, as well as the Dominican intermedios who sell them products, the Dominican government is equally to blame for its refusal to renegotiate trade relations in any meaningful way.

“‘We know the difficulty which Haiti is going through and products arriving through Elías Piña are low priced and if taxes are increased they could experience increases in the Haitian market,'” Reios is quoted by Dominican Today.

The truth is that many products crossing between the countries already pay taxes to both sides.

The wall at Comendador is one of many changes developing along a border that has been fluid up to this point. The Haitian government recently inaugurated a new contingent of border police, its answer to the Dominican army battalions that police the major entry points between the countries. In Ansapit in the south, the shred of barbed wire that formerly divided it and the Dominican town of Pedernales is being reinforced.

Dominican Today photo.

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