Haiti - Caricom : Speech of President Martelly
"[...] I am very pleased to welcome you to the land of Haiti on the occasion of the Twenty-Fourth Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM. I am the voice of the whole nation of Haiti, who welcomes you and wholeheartedly offers you a most enjoyable stay.
For the open and hospitable people of Haiti, this important meeting is a unique event in its history and it fully appreciates the honor done to us to be able to receive our brothers and sisters from all over the Caribbean region to work together on solving common challenges in the field of sustainable development.
It is a pleasure for me to extend my congratulations to Dr. the Honorable Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia for the excellent work he has done during his management of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community. It is with pleasure that I welcome in the Bureau of the Conference the presence of the Honourable Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
I welcome, with great satisfaction, the return of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean family, in the person of the Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Rufus Ewing.
I also want to acknowledge the outstanding work of the Secretary General, Mr. Irwin Larocque. Finally, the presence among us of the First Ladies of Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines is a ray of sunlight that illuminates the holding of this 24th Intersessional.
I wish all of you, brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, the warmest welcome in Haiti. You are at home here!
Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
I am much honored that Haiti for the first time since its integration into the Caribbean Community, assures the Presidency of this regional integration structure. The Caribbean Sea is the "mare nostrum". We face the same realities in "the Caribbean where we live." We endure this reality through the threat produced on our islands by climate change. More powerful floods and droughts, more powerful storms linked to global warming due to the greenhouse effect of gas emissions, have severely tested our policies in the area of infrastructure, food security, health and the eradication of poverty.
For us Caribbeans, inhabitants of small developing islands, the risk also resides in the rising level of the sea; beyond the temporary or permanent displacement of coastal populations, this threatens the very existence of our countries. Our actions in this area are guided by a survival reflex. That is why we will never stop to speak in international fora in favor of a policy of mitigation and adaptation to climate change based on international cooperation.
We believe that progress has been made in raising awareness of this danger in light of the decisions taken in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Indeed, Heads of State from around the world endorsed the concept of green economy and devoted considerable attention to issues of financing and technology transfer for the benefit of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the African States and Small Developing Island States, in order to enable them to pursue their policies and programs for environmentally sustainable human development.
It is really urgent to implement innovative financing mechanisms. Now that the seat of the Green Climate Fund has been assigned, we hope it does not take long to become operational. Our programs in the fields of conservation and management of forests, for example, can no longer wait.
This is in particular the case of my country whose forest cover has been reduced to less than 2%. Considering this as a national emergency, which has resonances even at a regional level, it seemed appropriate to me to declare 2013: the year of environmental and agricultural recovery.
Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Distinguished guests,
During two days, this High Level Conference will provide an opportunity to deliberate on critical issues in the region. I begin by quoting the problem of movement of persons and goods. Our countries are in a paradoxical situation: so near and yet so far! Among many other factors, the lack of a dedicated transport system is the heart of this problem. In fact, for some of our fellow citizens traveling within the Community, it is an odyssey.
WIth regard to our production, too often a good manufactured within the Community must pass through a country outside of the Community before reaching their destination in another Member State of the Community. Under these conditions, the inter-community trade will fail to reach an acceptable growth level.
The transport situation leads us to address another equally important problem, that of the mobility of people within the Community.
The creation of the Community is primarily aimed at putting in contact and gathering Women and Men in the Caribbean around common values and a common goal. While being aware of certain limitations, our integration process will only reach the harmony necessary for its completion when our fellow citizens learn to know and appreciate each other and have the opportunity to work together. This is the price of the unity and solidarity for which we are all struggling.
It is the same for the issue of language. Our diversity is our wealth. The culture of others is part of the heritage of us all. Integration is also the possibility for the Other to express its uniqueness. Our Community is a Tower of Babel that needs to be valued. This issue, in my opinion, is important. For this reason, I would ask for it to be granted interest.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our quest for sustainable development is fraught with pitfalls of all kinds. We must avoid, for example, the traps that transnational organized crime represents. The sovereignty of our country is sometimes violated by powerful non-state actors engaged in illicit drug trafficking and using our territory as transit points.
Faced with this threat, we must strengthen our cooperation in order to defeat these criminal networks that too often manage to open breaches in our security, to threaten whole swathes of our economic systems and cause social and political upheavals.
Given our limited resources, it is appropriate that we receive support in this struggle from the States affected by this trade, including equipment and the implementation of development programs for our agents.
The drug trafficking also extends its tentacles to the financial sector. We must ensure each day a better protection to our banking system to combat money laundering and corruption. During this Summit, we have the opportunity to refine our analysis of these blights and to propose new control tools.
Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Distinguished guests,
The creation of the CARICOM, on July 4, 1973, was a great victory for the Caribbean countries that were able to send a message of unity and solidarity and cooperation to the rest of the world. Now, they must take into account this sub-regional bloc that seeks to make of its economic and trade relations a positive force for the sustainable development of our countries. The Republic of Haiti has not remained outside this integration movement in the region. In a favorable context, Haiti was able to obtain its final admission to the Community in 2002.
Today, the Republic of Haiti holds the rotating presidency of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, which is the supreme organ of the Community and is, as such, the Institution on the international scene, such as for example in the quartet of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
It is in this context that I take the opportunity of this encounter to advocate for my country which, for informed observers, failed to take full advantage of its accession to the Community.
Today again, I would like to say that Haiti should be seen and treated as an opportunity. Despite its difficulties, it represents a good opportunity for the region, an opportunity for each CARICOM country.
We represent a market of nearly ten million people, unsuspected natural assets and a rich cultural heritage that can provide a serious contribution to the health of our economies. Ultimately, a Haitian economy that works best serves the interests of CARICOM thus expanding its market and its possibilities of being more competitive.
Our economy needs to be supported by productive investment in order to be viable. Significant advances are being made in this direction. I would like to mention the most recent Haitian-Jamaican company, Haitian Broilers, specializing in the production of poultry feed, who dared to believe in the revival of the country. It has made an investment of $ 10 million, which generated 80 direct jobs and more than 3,000 indirect jobs in such an important industry as raising chickens. This fine example should be welcomed and followed.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Haiti's membership in CARICOM is a positive fact and we take all necessary steps for Haiti to fully and completely play its role in the organization.
In the commercial arena, Haiti is in the process of entering new negotiations on its list of tariff concessions to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The strategic importance of this approach leads me to ask again for your support.
I've already given the necessary instructions to give a boost to the process of harmonization of national legislation with the Community standards. In the coming months, all measures will be taken put the country in order with the regime of trade in goods and services
Thus, the law on the import and export of goods from the Community, free of all duties and quantitative restrictions will soon be submitted to Parliament. It is the same for the law on the national rate based on the Common External Tariff and the Harmonized 2007 System as well as that on the Certificate of Origin and sanctions against fraudulent documentation.
Furthermore, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that some of our trading partners outside the community adopt new legislations that, while trying to protect the health of their population, reduce access for our producers to their markets. In the very near future, our products will provide all the information on their composition and origin in order to access certain markets. It is in this sense that the Republic of Haiti wishes to propose to the analysis of our Conference a project on the traceability of agricultural and non-agricultural products to eventually allow our producers to comply with international regulations. It will also propose another project on the creation of a Caribbean merchant navy.
The Community is full of potential that can still be exploited. With its ten million inhabitants the Republic of Haiti can be a good provider of agri-food products, including fruits and vegetables, and handicrafts. It can also be a good outlet for products from the region.
A favorable investment climate has been created by the Government. The tourism industry booming in the region, can also be developed in my country. In this way, we can also carry out an exchange of experience because it is one of the key flourishing sectors on which my Government intends to rely to achieve its goals of economic growth and the creation of decent jobs.
In the context of the free movement of skilled persons, I welcome the progress made in favor of holders of diplomatic and official passports. I hope that these provisions extend to contractors and socio-professionals while waiting to generalize it to other categories of workers within the Community.
The Republic of Haiti intends to contribute to the achievement of the Community objectives such as the improvement of production, productivity and international competitiveness. These goals are achievable within the fully integrated and liberalized internal market that we have formed.
The work has only just begun. The country has a vast field to be cleared in all areas of functional cooperation of the Community to place itself on the same level as its partners.
I would like to conclude with the question of regional and hemispheric security. I am convinced that initiatives aiming to counteract the phenomenon of insecurity will not bring fruit without the involvement of all stakeholders and strengthening the capacity of Member States. CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) is, in my opinion, the perfect setting for the coordination of our efforts. I particularly wish to strengthen the cooperation between the Agency and the Republic of Haiti.
My goal in the coming months is to ensure, with the grandeur and prestige required, the leadership of the integration process with a view to leaving the legacy of a strengthened, united Caribbean Community, and even more dynamic.
Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
We live in a heavenly region, with an exuberant nature that inspires poets. In his collection of poems entitled 'Caribbean' René Philoctetes, a great Haitian poet knows not 'how far to raise the voice in this festival of waves, the arrogance of chlorophyll, the seat of the stars, in this perpetual cult of the sun, the coming and going of wings.' He believes that our time has come because it is the 'Caribbean Age! Age of men! New age! Age of the end of time!' It is up to us to materialize this dream so that, like the nature that surrounds us, life will be good for all our people.
Thank you for your attention.
Long live CARICOM, long live Haiti!"
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