Local October 13, 2015 | 11:52 am

Dominican Republic, Haiti leaders meet as deportations trump trade

Barahona, DominicanRepublic.- The presidents of Dominican Republic Danilo Medina and of Haiti MichelMartelly on Monday discuss bilateral topics, with trade and immigration as pressingissues.

The meeting comes inthe heels of mounting tension unleashed by Port-au-Prince´s ban on the entry byland of 23 Dominican products in effect since October 1.

The meeting whichbegan 11:10am at Maria Montez International Airport (southwest) occurs at Martelly´sbehest, and in the heels of protests onboth sides of the border, where Haiti officials confiscate the 23 Dominican productswhen Haitian buyers return to their country.

The protests havebrought Dajabon´s binational market to a standstill since early last week days,headed by the blockade imposed by Dominican truckers of the Fenatrado union.

Haiti´s ban couldlead to losses as high as US$500 million to the Dominican economy this year, accordingto local estimates.

Haiti is the second biggestmarket for Dominican products, only after the US, and the only one with which DominicanRepublic has a positive trade balance

The ban also promptedthe Dominican government to complain at the World Trade Organization, arguing thatit violates an agreement between the two nations signed in July 2014.

Immigration row

But despite the highcost to the Dominican economy, the row over Santo Domingo´s deportations of undocumentedHaitians will likely be the sticking point, on which Port-au-Prince accuses theDominican government of illegally expelling thousands of Dominicans of Haitianorigin.

Dominican authoritieshave repatriated nearly 5,000 undocumented Haitians thus far this year.

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