Caribbean Report 11-01-1999



Table of Contents

1. Headlines (00:00-00:28)
2. Demonstrations took place today in Haiti’s capital. The demonstators want the country’s Members of Parliament to step down and many feel that President René Préval will dissolve the Parliament. Correspondent Michael Norton gives an analysis of the situation (00:29-03:11)
3. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) will again make judgment on whether or not the European Union’s banana import regime is in line with WTO trade rules. Clare Doole reports that the United States has threatened to impose 100% tariffs on certain EU imports unless the EU open its markets to bananas grown in Central America by US owned companies. The US sees the EU system as favouring Caribbean bananas. Britain’s Trade Minister, Brian Wilson, said that it was important that the EU continue to support poor Caribbean banana producers, and Britain has an obligation to do so under the Lomé Agreement, and that the WTO recognizes this. Also interviewed was Arthur Rennie of the knit wear firm Clan Douglas, on how the threatened US embargo is affecting his firm (03:12-08:52)
4. The seven week pay dispute between banana farmers and plantation owners almost paralysed Martinique’s economy, and an agreement is now being ratified. Geraldine Coughlan reports that the National Federation of Farmers Union has appealed to the French government for compensation of losses. Former French Minister for Urban Affairs, Eric Raoult, said that what was needed is debate on the type of representation for French overseas departments in Paris, rather than an economic recovery programme (08:53-10:15)
5. Correspondent Caroline Popovic reports that Martiniquan business people are suing the state for their losses because they feel that the state has been irresponsible in their handling of the Fort-de-France blockade (10:16-11:51)
6. Airport petrol pump workers at the airports in Martinique and Guadeloupe are refusing to re-fuel aircrafts until they get a pay increase (11:52-12:09)
7. The heads of government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will meet in Dominica. The two main regional issues to be discussed are the ongoing review of the treaty establishing the OECS, and the OECS / World Bank telecommunications reform project (12:09-12:29)
8. In St. Vincent the Unity Labour Party intends to promote its programmes more aggressively. In an interview with its new leader, Ralph Gonsalves, spoke about economic growth and diversity (12:30-14:15)
9. SmithKline Beecham is bartering to secure the rights to a promising meningitis vaccine developed in Cuba. Negotiations are hampered by American legislation prohibiting trade with Cuba (14:16-15:21)