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Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Fact Sheet

March 23, 2017

More information about Haiti is available on the Haiti Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

When Haiti is more prosperous, secure, and firmly rooted in democracy, Haitians and Americans benefit. U.S. policy toward this close neighbor is designed to foster the institutions and infrastructure necessary to achieve strong democratic foundations and meaningful poverty reduction through sustainable development. The United States provides substantial humanitarian assistance so the most vulnerable Haitians can better meet their basic needs in health and nutrition. Assistance for long-term development and institution building is another pillar of U.S.-Haiti bilateral cooperation. Priority areas include support for economic growth and poverty reduction, improved healthcare and food security, promoting respect for human rights, building stronger democratic institutions, and strengthening the Haitian National Police (HNP) so that Haiti can better provide its own security and be an effective partner against international crime. Because poverty reduction and tackling chronic unemployment require job creation, the United States facilitates bilateral trade and investment with Haiti. The large Haitian diaspora in the United States is a potentially powerful ally in the effort to expand business opportunities and build on the many links that unite Haitians and Americans.

Much progress has been made in the seven years after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated much of the country. Haiti has transitioned from a post-disaster era to a period of reconstruction and long-term development. As of December 2016, approximately 97 percent of the 1.5 million displaced persons in camps had departed for alternative housing arrangements. Nearly all earthquake debris that obstructed recovery has been removed. Thousands of needed jobs have been created in Haiti’s growing export apparel sector. Since 2011 Haiti has achieved positive annual growth rates, including 5.5 percent in 2011 and 2.8 percent in 2014. With U.S. and international support, Haiti has achieved significant improvements in basic health indicators and seen a steady and substantial decrease in the number of cholera cases since the initial outbreak in 2010.

Haiti’s transition to a strong democracy is important to the United States as the country’s authoritarian history becomes increasingly part of its past rather than its future. Strong democratic institutions, in particular the holding of regular free and fair elections, can help guarantee Haiti’s democratic traditions and ensure a voice for the Haitian people in their governance. Haiti has a democratically elected president who took office on February 7, 2017. A commitment to democracy and the rule of law also ensures that human rights and fundamental freedoms are better protected. The stability and predictability that come with these institutions are essential for Haiti to achieve sustained economic growth and to attract needed foreign investment.

Much remains to be done to sustain and build on this progress. The growth of Haiti’s economy slowed to below 2 percent in 2015 and 2016 as political uncertainty, drought conditions, decreasing foreign aid, and the depreciation of the national currency took a toll on public and private investment. Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, made landfall on Haiti on October 4, 2016 with 140 mile-per-hour winds, creating a new humanitarian emergency. An estimated 2.1 million people were affected by the Category 4 storm which caused extensive damage to crops, houses, livestock, and infrastructure across Haiti’s southern peninsula. With a new president now seated, the country can develop and coalesce around a comprehensive agenda and address the ongoing challenges the country faces.

The United States and Haiti share close people-to-people ties. Each year, tens of thousands of Haitians travel to the United States to conduct business, attend school, visit family and friends, or to become permanent residents through legal immigration. Following the 2010 earthquake, the United States granted temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians living in the United States. TPS still applies to Haitians who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011. In 2014 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program that will allow certain eligible Haitians with already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions an opportunity to enter the United States up to two years in advance of their visa eligibility dates. This program is estimated to be available to approximately 5,000 eligible Haitians per year and will promote safe, orderly, legal immigration to the United States, and give participants the opportunity to support Haiti through remittances.

Despite measured improvements in Haiti since 2010, a number of Haitians continue to attempt to migrate illegally to the United States. These irregular migrant flows, often over dangerous land and sea routes, are often facilitated through illegal smuggling networks, and frequently result in the loss of money, possessions, and life. The United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking dangerous journeys, both by land and sea, to the United States. In an effort to dissuade illegal migration attempts to United States, the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on September 22, 2016 to resume regular removals of Haitians who enter the United States illegally. The United States is also committed to apprehending and prosecuting the human smugglers who profit by organizing and carrying out illegal sea voyages and land movements. In addition to deterring illegal migration and preserving life, the United States works to address the root causes of illegal migration from Haiti by helping to create more economic opportunity for Haitians in their own country.

U.S. Assistance to Haiti

Since the earthquake, the United States has made available over $4.7 billion for assistance to Haiti to support life-saving post-disaster relief as well as longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was among the least developed nations and faced chronic challenges to meaningful poverty reduction. Against this background, the country’s reconstruction and development will continue for many years. Also, U.S. security and rule of law assistance in Haiti is grounded in supporting the Haitian National Police to achieve its development goals to improve the force’s capacity and grow its ranks in order to better serve and protect the Haitian people. Since the 2010 earthquake, U.S. assistance to the police school and HNP leadership helped increase the HNP force to 15,000 officers in FY 2017, and helped enhance the capacity of the HNP's special units.

To advance Haiti’s long term development needs, the United States advanced a comprehensive strategy in consultation with the Haitian Government. U.S. programs focus on three geographic development corridors: a) Port-au-Prince, b) Saint Marc, and c) Cap Haitien. The St. Marc and Cap Haitien corridors support an important Government of Haiti objective – to create centers of economic activity outside the overcrowded capital of Port-au-Prince. U.S. assistance also invests in four sectorial pillars: 1) Infrastructure and Energy, 2) Food and Economic Security, 3) Health and Other Basic Services, and 4) Governance and Rule of Law. Highlights of results of U.S. assistance to Haiti following the earthquake include:

Some 328,000 displaced Haitians housed.

The U.S. Government funded the removal of more than 2.7 million cubic meters of rubble, approximately 36 percent of all rubble removed. Over 10,000 jobs created at the Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti’s north.

Approximately 80,000 farmers have more than doubled their incomes as beneficiaries of U.S. assistance. A 10-megawatt power plant is providing electricity in the north.

The Haitian National Police is stronger with the addition of more than 5,732 new officers, as of March 2017.

More Haitians have access to police services as a result of new police commissariats built in areas not previously serviced by the police.

Provided more than 23,000 children and 770 teachers with innovative reading curricula that meet international standards for literacy instruction.

Many basic health indicators, including child nutrition and mortality and HIV/AIDS continue to improve.

For more information on the strategy and budget see: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/hsc.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Since 2011, the Haitian Government has emphasized encouraging foreign investment and developing private-led market-based economic growth. President Moise campaigned on a platform of economic development, innovation, energy reform, and universal education. Haiti encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has stated a commitment to improve the business environment and attract foreign investors. Its Center of Investment Facilitation (CFI) aims to facilitate and promote investment in the local economy by reducing administrative delays, streamlining the creation of enterprises, and facilitating the provision of inducements. However, overall costs to start and operate a new business in Haiti remain high; access to credit as well as structures for investor protection are still insufficient. The United States and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to offer programs in Haiti.

The United States is Haiti's largest trading partner. A growing number of U.S. firms have operations in Haiti, including commercial banks, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants. Opportunities for U.S. businesses in Haiti include light manufacturing, in particular textile and clothing production; the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; building and modernizing Haiti's infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors such as arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations.

Meaningful poverty reduction in Haiti will depend on job creation through economic activity and foreign investment. Toward that end, the United States promotes needed reforms in Haiti to make it easier and more predictable for businesses to operate and to create the kind of stable environment needed for investors.

Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov under market intelligence, Country Commercial Guides.

U.S. Trade Preferences for Haiti

Both Haitian and American importers and exporters can benefit under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act – the successor program of the Caribbean Basin Initiative – that provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials. The 2008 Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act and the 2010 Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP legislation) provide duty-free preferences for certain light-manufacturing products produced in Haiti, in particular apparel products. The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 extended trade benefits provided to Haiti in the HOPE and HELP Acts through September 2025. Haitian apparel factories eligible for duty-free entry into the United States under HOPE II and HELP must comply with international core labor standards and Haitian labor law. The HOPE and HELP Acts have been instrumental in the redevelopment of Haiti’s apparel industry which accounts for over 90 percent of national export earnings and provides over 40,000 jobs (2016).

Haiti's Membership in International Organizations

Haiti and the United States are partners in promoting core values such as democracy, respect for human rights, and economic development both in the region and around the world. Both nations belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States (OAS), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and World Trade Organization (WTO). The United States works closely with the OAS, particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to advance its policy goals in Haiti.

Bilateral Representation

The Charge D'Affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is Brian Shukan.

Haiti maintains an embassy in the United States at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).