A joint communique issued late Sunday following talks between President Jovenel Moise and Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis noted that the two leaders, who are attending the CARICOM Inter-sessional summit, met at the National Palace “in an atmosphere of cordiality, openness and mutual understanding”.
The communique noted that the discussions were focused on the implementation of the three agreements between the two governments that were signed in Nassau on 29 July 2014.
The agreements covered a framework for bilateral cooperation, trade and technical cooperation in the area of quality control for agricultural products and exportable fisheries and the promotion and protection of investments.
The communique said that the two leaders addressed issues of mutual interest, and reaffirmed their determination to strengthen bilateral relations and mutual cooperation for the development of the population of their two countries.
It said they noted the excellent relations between the two countries, “which have always been marked by fraternity, friendship and solidarity, and reaffirmed their determination to do everything possible to strengthen and develop them further” and expressed their determination to address the migratory situation and to undertake joint initiatives that could contribute to reducing the flow of migration to The Bahamas.
The meeting also agreed to “find effective solutions to resolve the identification problem of Haitian nationals in The Bahamas” and as a result, Haiti has decided to establish a centre of delivery and collection of identification of documents at the Embassy of Haiti in Nassau”.
Earlier, Prime Minister Minnis had confirmed that his administration is negotiating an agricultural trade deal with Haiti that it hopes would improve trade relations between the two countries as well as put a dent in the illegal migration of Haitians to Nassau.
Prime Minister Minnis, accompanied by President Moise visited several projects on the French-speaking CARICOM country.
“President Moise is on a serious infrastructural campaign crusade to change Haiti so that you can have proper road transportation from the north, south, east and west, that would allow people to move about freely,” Minnis said, pointing out that it is a known fact countries can only move forward with proper infrastructure.
Both leaders later toured the Agritrans banana production/export facility located in the Caracol Industrial Park and Minnis later described the visit as “enlightening”.
Minnis said that the two countries are negotiating a trade deal whereby Nassau would purchase fruits and vegetables from Port au Prince and that could have significant benefits for both countries while also dealing with the issue of illegal migration.
“To see the technology that they have there; how advanced they are with farming and the products they produce. We can have an excellent relationship and we can purchase a lot of their farm products – be it fruits or vegetables and other farm products from Haiti – which should automatically cut out the “Middle Man.”
He said “purchasing directly from Haiti also cuts out that number two and that number three man so that you can purchase quality products directly from the source and that would also help with the problems we face in terms of migration”.
Many Haitians undertake the dangerous sea voyage to reach the Bahamas in unseaworthy vessels and the authorities have urged them to refrain from doing so, since a number of them drown while undertaking the dangerous trip.
The joint communique noted that during the discussions the two leaders “underscored the need for the creation of economic, commercial and investment opportunities between the private sectors in Haiti and The Bahamas, particularly in the Northern and Northwest region of Haiti”.
It said they also emphasised the need to develop a maritime agreement between the two countries for maritime border control and to encourage closer collaboration between national, regional and international law enforcement institutions, including information sharing for greater effectiveness in combating illegal immigration, illicit trafficking in narcotics, the smuggling of migrants, and transnational organized crime.
“(They) affirmed their willingness to develop cultural and sports cooperation by encouraging in their respective countries the establishment of links between cultural, academic and other institutions, for a better knowledge of their respective cultures through exchanges of exhibitions, music, dance and other forms of culture and art, and exchanges between institutions and sports groups.”
The two leaders also expressed their determination to cooperate in the area of tourism through information sharing of best practices and training opportunities, the communique noted.
- Countries: Bahamas, Haiti