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Daily News - 18 November 1999

Preparing for the II ACP Summit in Santo Domingo
The Listín Diario newspaper reports that work is almost completed on the Ministry of Armed Forces hall where the II African, Caribbean and Pacific Summit of Heads of State and Government will be held. The summit, which is expected to be the largest gathering of heads of state to be held this century in the Americas, will take place in Santo Domingo 25-27 November.
The Ministry of the Armed Forces hall where most summit work sessions will take place has been expanded, remodeled and air-conditioned. To prepare the room, the government invested RD$27.6 million. In addition RD$361.718 and US$223,296.27 have been invested in special equipment. Preparations have also included RD$1.7 million for landscaping improvements and RD$200,113 for the installation of modern telecommunications systems. The hall now becomes the largest meeting facility in the DR. It has capacity to seat 4,000 persons.

Max Puig on the importance of the Summit for the DR
Max Puig, who is the person in charge of the Lomé Convention in the DR, says that the meeting will bring numerous benefits to the country. More than 2,500 foreigners from Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and European nations that will be come for the meeting. Tourism will benefit when these influential visitors take back their impressions of the country. Moreover, images of the DR will be transmitted and written about by dozens of foreign journalists that will cover the event.
Puig says that the celebration of the summit in Santo Domingo is a worldwide recognition to the new role the DR is playing in international diplomacy. The DR was unanimously chosen as site of the event. The summit was last held in Gabon in November 1997.
Puig said they expect 48 African, eight Pacific and 15 Caribbean heads of state to visit. Also high-ranking officers from the European Union governments and directors of multilateral organizations.
The event will wrap-up discussions regarding negotiations for a successor agreement to Lomé IV, the cooperation and trade agreement between ACP countries and the European Union. It also will focus on the joint position of this group of states in the next round of World Trade Organization multilateral negotiations that opens 30 November in Seattle, Washington (USA). The ACP position is based on the United Nations Human Development Report that focuses on the need to humanize globalization. To read about this position, see http://www.undp.org/hdro/99.htm
"A country that carries out a meeting of this kind is a country that infinitely improves its negotiating capacity, which means that wherever the DR goes, it will be better placed in trade levels," said Puig.
Prior to the start of the summit, several meetings will take place, beginning this Saturday. The first, is the meeting of the Committee of Ambassadors of the 71 ACP countries. Then the plenary meeting of all the Lomé spokespersons, and then the ACP Council of Ministers meeting.
To read more about this important summit, see
http://www.acpsec.org/gb/summit2/summit_e.htm
http://www.oneworld.org/euforic/framed/futur_gb.htm
http://www.oneworld.org/europe/en/guides/lome/
http://www.oneworld.org/ecdpm/pubs/hslbridg.htm
http://www.serex.gov.do

Eduardo Latorre on the importance of the ACP Summit
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said that it is an honor to host such an important event. Furthermore, he said that it will permit the DR to expand its horizons as a nation, by developing new relations with African and Pacific nations. The hosting of the event here will also enable the country to strengthen ties with the European Union, which today makes up the group of nations that has lent millionaire support in the form of economic cooperation as well as opening of preferential markets to Dominican goods.
"We have stopped seeing the world in the provincial manner we had become accustomed to," said Latorre in an interview with the Listín Diario newspaper.
Moreover, the Dominican Republic will preside the ACP group of states, that is at the vanguard of North-South relations in the 21st century, until the next ACP Summit in two or three years.
"This will give the DR a greater capacity to influence, beyond that of the size of our economy, in a special manner with the European Union and a direct link at the highest levels to our principal source of direct cooperation," he said. He explained the DR has benefitted from over US$400 million after signing the Lomé IV Convention. He also highlighted that more than 1.5 million European tourists visitd last year and that Europe is the second most important source of foreign investment.
Latorre also pointed out that Europe has agreed to extend the preferential trade benefits through year 2008 to benefit developing nations and small economies.

US$1,000 tax exemption on gifts start 1 December
Dominican Customs authorities at the nation's airports and ports have been instructed to allow duty free imports for visiting expatriate Dominicans. The facilities that are effective 1 December will be granted to Dominicans who can demonstrate they have not visited within the past six months. They will be able to import tax-free gifts worth up to US$1,000. The tax exemption ends 7 January.

Commission to render report on tunnel fissures
The Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said in a press conference yesterday that he has appointed an inter-institutional commission to analyze the technical reasons for the fissures in the concrete lining along the tunnel under 27 de Febrero Expressway at the Máximo Gómez Avenue intersection. Minister Diandino says that the Ministry already has their diagnosis but is giving the commission 10 days to produce a report. The tunnel was closed off to vehicular traffic after problems with drainage caused the fissures. The commission members are made up of representatives of the following institutions: Colegio Dominicano de Ingenieros, Arquitectos y Agrimensores; Cámara Dominicana de la Construcción, technicians from the Ministry of Public Works and from the private firms Inersa-Tecnoamerica, Coindisa and Sercitec.

Manufacturing a solution or a problem?
In an interview with the Listín Diario newspaper, architect Omar Rancier questions whether the overpasses going up along the 27 de Febrero Expressway will be solving a problem or creating a greater problem. The overpasses are built to reduce bottlenecks and provide an expressway for traffic that is going to or coming from the Las Americas International Airport or the southeastern and eastern provinces of the country.
Rancier says that the solution might create urban slums underneath. He says that the government should have learned from the negative experience when Santo Domingo former Mayor Rafael Suberví spearheaded a project that would build an overpass at Duarte Avenue and París Street. The project was suspended by Suberví himself, but left behind a slum area where a dynamic commercial area was before. Instead of aborting the project, the Ministry of Public Works under Diandino Peña decided to extend it all the way to the Leopoldo Navarro intersection so that it could connect with the 27 de Febrero Expressway (tunnels included), considerably reducing traveling times.
Rancier says that the government was deaf to all those who alerted overpasses are being discontinued in cities all over the world as they have resulted in causing more problems than they have resolved.
The 27 de Febrero Expressway is the flagship of government construction under the Fernández administration. It is expected to be completed prior to the end of the Fernández administration in August 2000.

UNDP study shows 56% of Dominicans live in poverty
The United Nations Development Program in the DR recently released a diagnostic study, "Dominican Republic: Situation of the Country from the Perspective of Human Rights." The study highlights that 56% of Dominicans live below the line of poverty, not being able to satisfy their basic needs. The study concludes that poverty prevails in rural areas, where 64% of the population is poor. Poverty in urban areas encompasses 15.3% of the population.

Santiago businessmen to build free zones near Haiti
El Siglo newspaper reports that the Asociación de Empresas de Zonas Francas of Santiago will promote the installation of industrial parks in the frontier with Haiti if the country is awarded textile parity by the US Congress. The bill to this intent passed by the US Senate needs yet to be reconciled with another bill passed by the House of Representatives.
The free zones would have a significant effect on reducing the migration of Haitians into the DR, and thus on poverty in both countries.
Rosario Viñas, president of the Association of Free Zones said that Japan, Asia, Taiwan and England reached significant development levels by exploiting their textile industry and that the DR should do the same.
He said that it is important to create more industrial parks in rural zones to reduce the immigration of farmers to urban centers.
Viñas said that if parity is passed, in the next two years some 60,000 new jobs could be created, or about 40% of the present employment.

Using foreign debt money to help Haiti
The Unión Nacional de Empresarios, a local business association, proposes that the international community permit the DR to use the RD$7,500 million per year foreign debt payments to build development projects on the frontier with Haiti that would contribute significantly to reduce poverty in that nation. The UNE says the DR, a country with a per capita income of US$2,000 a year cannot be compared to countries that have per capita of US$20,000 that can afford mass immigration. He says that one out of every four households in the DR live below the line of poverty, making US$60 a month. UNE supports the initiative of the Fernández administration to turn the DR into the principal spokesman in international forums to request that the developed world provide support so that Haiti can abandon 19th century living standards and join, in a few decades, the nations of the continent that have entered into the 21st century world. He says that in the DR, the political, economic and social leadership is convinced that only by improving living conditions in Haiti will Haitian migration to the DR be reduced. The same can be said for the US and the DR. As living conditions in the DR improve, there is less migration to the US and Puerto Rico.
The Migration Department said that more than 2,000 Haitians have been deported in November, and that controls on the border have been reinforced. Nevertheless, frontier provincial authorities say that most of the deported Haitians return the next day to the DR.

Tourism stats
The National Hotel & Restaurant Association reports that tourism grew 9.4% from January to August 1999. From January to August 1999, some 1,495,208 arrived, up from the 1,366,256 foreign visitors that came during the same period last year.

Copa announces new DR-Cuba connection
Copa airlines announced its morning and afternoon flights to Havana yesterday. Flights will depart Santo Domingo at 8:25 am, arriving 1:05 pm in Havana. Afternoon flight departure time is 5:25 pm arriving 10:05 pm. The return flights from Cuba depart at 7 am arriving 1:35 pm in Santo Domingo and at 4 pm arriving 10:40 pm. The flight makes a stopover in Panama. For more information, call 809 472-2672 or www.copaair.com
Cubana de Aviación is the only carrier that flies direct to Cuba from Santo Domingo.

Pedro Martínez is MVP, say local newspapers
Local sports pages of Dominican dailies carry the news that sources-in-the-know say that Dominican Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez has won the Most Valuable Player award of the American League. He would become the 10th Major League baseball player since 1956 to win the Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player award in the same year. This had not occurred since 1992, when Dennis Eckersley of Oakland won both awards.

Important Panam basketball championship
The Sixth Panamerican Tournament of Best Clubs opens in Santo Domingo Friday afternoon at 6 pm. The event was postponed one day after the ESPN crew which will be transmitting the event to Latin American and Hispanic audiences in the US had removed their equipment as a precaution when Hurricane Lenny was expected.
The event will last through 21 November and will take place at the Palacio de los Deportes of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center and some games at the Polideportivo of San Pedro de Macorís.
Clubs from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Honduras and the Dominican Republic will be participating in the event. The teams are the Club Universidad Popular Autónoma de Puebla (Mexico), Club Sportivo Independiente (Argentina), Club Welcome (Uruguay), Club Marathon Franca Basketbol (Brazil), Club Nacional de Ingenieros (Honduras), Club Vasco de Gama (Brazil). The Club Mets de Mauricio Báez (national champions, Dominicana) and Club Guloyas de San Pedro de Macorís ( runner-up Dominicana) will also participate.
The Games will take place at 2 and 4 pm, 7 and 9 pm. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be games at 11 am, 1, 5 and 7 pm. For a RD$30 admission ticket basketball fans can sit through the four games that start at 2 pm.
This is the first time this championship is held outside of South America.
The grouping of the teams is as follows:
Group A:
1. Champion (Dom)
2. Vasco da Gama (Bra)
3. Welcome (Uru)
4. Nacional (Hon)

Group B:
1. Franca (Bra)
2. Independiente (Arg)
3. Runner up (Dom)
4. Champion (Mex)

The teams play against all and by points within their groups for three days (19-22) November, with a total of 12 games.

Drag races at Las Americas Racetrack
Racers from Puerto Rico and the DR will dispute the first places in the Teccneco Automotive Racing Extravaganza that will take place on Sunday at the Las Americas Race Track on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. Two vehicles from Puerto Rico are coming with speed records of below eight seconds and 300 kilometers/hr in the quarter of mile distance. Practice races will take place as of 3 pm on Saturday, and on Sunday the competition starts at 10 am. Admission tickets are RD$100/RD$70.

Golf tournament in Juan Dolio
The British Chamber of Commerce golf tournament will take place 20 November in Juan Dolio. The II Britannica Cup Golf Tournament will be held at the Los Marlins Golf Club of Metro Country Club.

Dominican baseball weekend games and tournament update
Thursday, 18 November 1999
Santo Domingo: Estrellas vs. Escogido
San Francisco de Macorís: Licey vs. Pollos

Friday, 19 November 1999
5 pm game Santo Domingo: Escogido vs. Licey
Santo Domingo: Escogido vs. Licey
Santiago: Estrellas vs. Aguilas

Saturday, 20 November 1999
5 pm game San Francisco de Macorís: Escogido vs. Pollos
Santo Domingo: Aguilas vs. Escogido
San Pedro de Macorís: Pollos vs. Estrellas

Sunday, 21 November 1999
Santo Domingo: Licey vs. Escogido
San Francisco de Macorís: Aguilas vs. Pollos

Dominican Winter Baseball Game standing as of Wednesday, 17, 1999:
Aguilas Cibaeñas 10-6 (.625)
Leones del Escogido 7-4 (.636) ­ 0.5 games
Estrellas Orientales 7-7 (.500) ­2 games
Tigres del Licey 6-9 (.400), -3.5 games
Pollos del Cibao 3-3 (.333) -4 games

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