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Daily News - Friday, 06 July 2007

Lu continues her visit
On the second day of her 3-day visit to the DR, Taiwanese Vice President Annette Hsiu-lien Lu was at the UASD state university where she received an honorary degree. Lu is in the DR as part of a Latin American tour that is also taking her to Panama, Paraguay and Guatemala.
Lu told her audience at the UASD that Taiwan's commitment to education rather than technological-military build up lead the country to its present development and advances. Lu also took some time to talk about her personal life. She recalled that when she was five years old her father tried to sell her because of the economic hardships her family was facing. She also spoke of how she spent five years in jail because of her defense of women's rights in Taiwan. She spoke of the advances of women in Taiwan, thanks to women's rights advocates.
Lu also commented on her country's relationship with neighboring China, which she called a "bad" neighbor. She said that Taiwan is not intimidated by China that has missiles pointed towards Taiwan.

Documenting the anonymous
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) and the Presidential Social Cabinet have agreed to collaborate to regularize the large number of Dominicans who have never been issued birth certificates and therefore do not technically "exist."
Vice President Rafael Alburquerque and JCE president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman agreed to use a portion of the funds from a US$35 million loan that the World Bank has granted to the JCE for the rehabilitation of the civil registry offices and the modernization and automating of the civil registry. The agreement establishes that US$100,000 may be applied from the loan for every 20,000 persons whose status is regularized by the program. Four mobile units will travel to areas where it is known that large numbers of residents have never been registered. The service will be free of charge. The agreement will last for three years.
Alburquerque commented that the large number of undocumented Dominicans was detected through government social reach programs that seek to issue welfare cards to indigents nationwide.

Sichuan, Segura defend contract
The Sichuan Company has come out today and defended its contract with the Dominican government with the argument that the current system in place is capable of buying all the energy they will produce. The Sichuan Heavy Machinery Company and Emirates companies argued thus that the possibility of using the renewable guarantees they have requested from the government are minimal. State Run Electric Companies (CDEEE) head Radhames Segura was responding to accusations by the block of PRD senators that denounced that the contracts the Executive Branch has sent to Congress for financial guarantees for the construction of the coal-figured plants are more onerous to the country than the infamous HydroQuebec-Sofati, Smith Enron and Cogentrix plant contracts.
Segura says that the PRD legislators are responsible for the approval of the onerous Madrid Accord when they were majority in Congress during the Mejia administration.
Segura questioned the lack of coherence in the PRD position. He mentioned that Carlos Sanchez, his predecessor at the CDEEE, had advocated for the installation of the coal-fired plants when he was at the post, and the PRD was government.

Mexican delegation coming to DR
Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso announced that a group of Mexican investors will visit to study the market. The minister highlighted the fact that the DR is the DR is only second to Brazil in Latin America in volume of Mexican investments.
He also highlighted the fact that the DR is Mexico's main trading partner in the Caribbean, with 20% of the total trade transactions. Morales said that both nations have a vested interest in protecting the textile industry in both countries, as a response to competition from China and other Asian nations. Morales made his comments during the IV Mixed Inter Governmental Commission Dominican Republic-Mexico that is meeting in Mexico.

One-way trade with Central America
An antiquated mentality and resistance by Dominican businesses to work with Central American and Caribbean countries has impeded Dominicans from benefiting from the free trade agreements in effect with Central America and the Caribbean since 2001, panelists participating in a workshop on the "Progress and Obstacles in Benefiting from the FTA between Central America and the DR," sponsored by Hoy newspaper said yesterday. The conclusion was that Dominicans have dedicated themselves to serve the local market and protect their local market share, and have been timid to test export opportunities.
Panelist Diego Eleta, president of the Federation of Central American Chambers of Commerce, explained that the DR has acted with an island mentality and has focused more on serving the local market. "We have before us opportunities, and many times the barriers are more mental than real," he said.
Eleta says that the DR needs to stop focusing on the north-south relationship with the US. He said that despite the fact that 80% of the DR's trade is with the US, trade needs to be diversified. Markets in Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America should be tapped by Dominican businessmen.
Central American exports to the DR in 1999 were US$100 million (excluding Panama). By 2006, they had increased to US$260 million. Meanwhile DR exports to Central American were US$20 million in 1999, but had only moved to US$48 million in 2006.
Other panelists were Manuel Madriz Forno, Trade Director of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS); Vinicio Mella, of the Federation of Central American Chambers of Commerce in the DR and Vilma Arbaje, manager of trade agreements for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and businessman Jose Corripio.
Vinicio Mella said Dominicans have resisted exploring business opportunities in Central America, despite this being an important market with millions of consumers. He mentioned that only nine Dominican companies signed up for an exploratory trade mission to Guatemala in June organized by the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD).
He explained that the response from Central American businessmen to the FTA with the DR has been the opposite. He described as an "avalanche" the coming of Central American businessmen seeking to introduce their products to the Dominican market within the FTA. Mella is vice president of Molinos Modernos, the largest flour mill in the DR, now a Guatemalan company. Mella also highlighted that with the implementation of DR-CAFTA, there are new opportunities for exports and challenges to be competitive.
Madriz Forno, of the ACS, advocated that the DR can work with the Caribbean in regards to production and marketing of bananas, tobacco, sugar, rum and coffee. Madriz says that the DR as a member of Cariforum should serve as a connection point between CA and the Caribbean Community. He says that the follow up is what makes a trade agreement work. He explained the ACS has set the areas of transport, sustainable tourism, natural disasters and trade as the four focal points for regional collaboration. He highlighted that the difficulties of transport have been a major obstacle to increased trade and integration.
Vilma Arbaje, of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, highlighted the inequality and trade and that Costa Rican exports to the DR represent 48.5% of the volume of Central American exports followed by those of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Businessman Jose Corripio said that the DR has become too dependent on expatriate remittances and tourism and says that it's not something that a country's economy should depend so heavily on. He urged Dominican businessmen to test export markets, with small pilot projects.

Are prices really higher?
A paid advertisement in today's newspapers, sponsored by 12 organizations representing the nation's supermarkets, colmados and wholesalers, displays a chart with the a list of basic food products and their prices in August of 2004 and their price in July 2007. The chart also displays the price differences for the products during that three-year period and the difference in percentage. Though all of the products listed on the chart display a decrease in price between 2004 and 2007, the list is published to dispute claims that prices have continued to rise. The paid advertisement says that the foods that make up the basic family basket cost less than three years ago and that the country.
Products Measurements $ Aug 2004 $ Jul.2007 Change ($) Change (%)
Soy OilGallon 128 ounces 270 185 -85 -31
Soy OilPounds 40 28 -12 -30
HerringPounds 70 50 -20 -29
RicePounds 25 15 -10 -40
OatsPounds 30 22 -8 -27
CodPounds 110 80 -30 -27
Jabon de CuabaBar 20 12 -8 -40
Corn Flour14 ounces 12 10 -2 -17
EggsUnit 5 3 -2 -40
SaltPounds 10 5 -5 -50
PastasPounds 24 18 -6 -25
ChickenPounds 40 30 -10 -25
Yellow CheesePounds 120 90 -30 -25
SalamiPounds 75 55 -20 -27
Sardines5.5 ounces 14 10 -4 -29
Milex Milk2,722 grams 700 650 -50 -7
Brown SugarPounds 10 11 1 -10
Red BeansPounds 30 28 -2 -7
Liquid MilkLiter 35 32 -3 -9
Lista MilkLiter 55 48 -7 -13

Bishops meet with Pope
Pope Benedict XVI met with the delegation of Dominican bishops that have been at the Vatican this week and congratulated the bishops on the social work they have done, in association with the Haitian church, to help alleviate the situation in that neighboring nation. The Pope expressed his satisfaction that contacts between the Catholic Church in the DR and Haiti to try to alleviate the situation of poverty and misery that offends the dignity of so many people in Haiti.
During the "ad limina" visit, which obliges all bishops to meet with the Pope every 5 years, Pope Benedict XVI commended Dominicans for supporting those Dominicans who live abroad and urged Dominicans to help Haitian migrants who leave their land looking for better opportunities.
During their meeting the Pope urged Dominican authorities to work in favor of the institution of the family, at a time when it is threatened by the drama of divorce and the fight to legalize abortions.

Abducted child found in Haiti
Cooperation between Dominican and Haitian authorities made possible that a child that had been abducted by his Pakistani father be returned to his Dominican mother. The parents were divorced and the mother had custody. Mother Suany Brea had alerted the authorities that her former husband, Azhar Daud Khan had taken their 8-year old son out to breakfast on Friday, 29 June and never returned. The mother feared her husband had kidnapped the child to take him to his homeland, Pakistan. She filed a report with the Police and the search for the child began. Diario Libre reports that the child and the father were stopped at the Port-au-Prince International Airport. Khan was arrested in the company of a friend and would be deported to the DR. They were traveling on forged passports and would take a flight to Cuba and then to Spain. Dominican consul in Haiti, Carlos Castillo kept the son. Brea said she has spoken with her son who says he is fine. She thanked both Dominican and Haitian authorities for helping to bring her child back.
 
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