A new report from the International Trade Commission provides information and analysis on U.S. trade preference programs that benefit Haiti and their impacts on the Haitian economy and workers. The report finds that these programs have played an important role in the bilateral trade relationship and the development of Haiti’s apparel sector, particularly its ability to attract investment despite a difficult political, social, and environmental landscape.
U.S. imports from Haiti may qualify for the following U.S. preference programs: the Generalized System of Preferences, the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, and the Haiti-specific trade preference program comprising the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Acts of 2006 and 2008 and the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010. Each successive program expanded benefits while adding or strengthening eligibility criteria. Most U.S. imports from Haiti use HOPE/HELP (67.9 percent) and CBTPA (23.6 percent).
Key findings about the impact of U.S. preference programs on Haiti’s economy include the following.
- The U.S. is by far Haiti’s most important trading partner, with about 80 percent of Haiti’s goods exports heading to the U.S.
- The trading relationship has been driven by U.S. trade preferences available to Haiti, and U.S. imports from Haiti have generally increased after the implementation of each preference program.
- U.S. apparel imports from Haiti quadrupled after the CBTPA and HOPE/HELP were implemented.
- Haiti produces both knit apparel and woven apparel, but exports of knit apparel (largely T-shirts) to the U.S. have seen much greater growth and now represent 83 percent of all U.S. apparel imports from Haiti.
- U.S. preference programs have contributed to a diversification of the product mix, with Haitian factories offering more complex products such as outerwear, performance and activewear, workwear, tailored items, and lingerie.
- Haiti has a strong manufacturing base in textiles and apparel, and increased interest by apparel brands in nearshoring inputs to avoid supply chain disruptions could benefit Haitian manufacturers and allow them to leverage their existing relationships with U.S. buyers and seek to establish new relationships to increase sales.
- Other Haitian industries that have the potential to increase exports to the U.S. include citrus peel, live fish (principally live eels), essential oils, cocoa beans, and mangoes.
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