Haiti and the need for

Economic Development


The Economy


Haiti is a free market economy with low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports. "Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, and low levels of education for much of the population are among Haiti's most serious impediments to economic growth." A 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti's economy and destroyed much of its capital city in January 2010. Haiti is officially the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with nearly 80% of the population living under the poverty line.


In 2011, the economy began to recover from the earthquake, but two hurricanes adversely affected agricultural output and the low public capital spending slowed the recovery in 2012. Nearly half of the Haitian community depends on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, making them vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, usually driven by the country's widespread deforestation.


US economic engagement under the Caribbean Basin Trade Preference Agreement (CBTPA) and the 2008 Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act helped increase apparel exports and investment by providing duty-free access to the US. Congress voted in 2010 to extend the CBTPA and HOPE II until 2020 under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act; the apparel sector accounts for about 90% of Haitian exports and nearly one-twentieth of GDP.


The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability, with over half of its annual budget coming from outside sources. The MARTELLY administration in 2011 launched a campaign aimed at drawing foreign investment into Haiti as a means for sustainable development. To that end, the MARTELLY government in 2012 created a Commission for Commercial Code Reform, effected reforms to the justice sector, and inaugurated the Caracol industrial park in Haiti's north coast. In 2012, private investment exceeded donor assistance for the first time since the 2010 earthquake.



The World FactBook: Central America and Caribbean :: Haiti - June 22, 2014

The People


Formal languages: French, Creole.


Religion: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%

note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo.


Population: 9,996,731

Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2014 est.)


Literacy Rate: appx. 48.7 percent. (53.4 percent of Males and 44.6 percent of Females)

Generally youth and adults 15 years or older can ead and write.


Child Labor: 2,587,205

This is the estimated number of children brought into child labor, between the ages of 5-14 years old.



The World FactBook: Central America and Caribbean :: Haiti - June 22, 2014




The History


In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola striking fear in the spanish settlers. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, at this point thriving greatly on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the larger importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation.


In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first post-colonial black-led nation in the world, declaring its independence in 1804.


Currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has experienced political instability for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations.


Continued instability and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti inaugurated a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006. This was followed by contested elections in 2010 that resulted in the election of Haiti's current President, Michel MARTELLY.



The World FactBook: Central America and Caribbean :: Haiti - June 22, 2014


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