By SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, The Associated Press
Oct 18, 2006
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A high-level Caribbean delegation promised to support Haiti as it returns to democratic rule but said Wednesday the impoverished nation was not ready to join a regional trade bloc.
Leaders from the 15-member Caribbean Community, or Caricom, praised President Rene Preval’s new government for working to steer Haiti toward stability after a 2004 revolt toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
“We found a clear commitment of the people responsible for government to move this country forward out of the very difficulties it finds itself,”
said St. Kitts Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.
However, St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said Haiti wasn’t ready to join the Caribbean Single Market, which allows the free flow of goods, services and certain workers throughout 12 Caribbean countries.
Haiti, Anthony said, had yet to adopt a common external tariff waiving duties and taxes on goods from other Caribbean nations.
Haiti was suspended from the Caricom in 2004 after rebels forced out Aristide, the country’s first democratically elected leader. The island nation was formally readmitted in July.
The revolt plunged Haiti’s ragged economy deeper into despair, sending inflation and unemployment soaring.
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