Haiti enjoys notable comparative advantages in the apparel sectors, which are key to the country’s economic recovery. In the first place, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act of 2008 and the Haiti Economic Lift (HELP) Act of 2010 allow duty-free access to the U.S. market for Haitian-made apparel and other textile articles until 2018. Haiti ranks among the largest suppliers to the U.S. of knit T-shirts, singlets, and tank tops, measured by the average value of imports, as well as the fastest growing garment exporters to the U.S. In 2010, Haiti exported over $551 million in apparel goods to America, while 2011 exports are on pace to increase by 52 percent.
In addition, major investments have been announced in the Haitian apparel industry, including a new 623-acre textile industrial park in the country’s northern region that is estimated to support 65,000 permanent jobs once fully developed. The industrial park will cost over $200 million and have a dedicated electricity plant, wastewater treatment, and factory shells. The industrial park is being built as a joint effort between the Haiti and U.S. governments and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Employment in the industry is also expanding. Before the earthquake, it employed 25,000 workers in 23 factories. Today it employs over 30,000 people making mostly commodity knitwear.
The Invest in Haiti Forum will have a special panel session on opportunities in the apparel manufacturing sector, to be presented by leading local and international companies doing business in Haiti.