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Friday, July 6, 2012
Map Credit: U.S. State Department
FROM: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
U.S. Relations With Haiti
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
June 7, 2012
U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster economic growth, enhance government capacity, and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; counter illegal migration and drug trafficking; and assist in the reconstruction of the country after the January 2010 earthquake. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The Haitian diaspora is a potentially powerful ally in the effort to strengthen U.S. policy initiatives in Haiti.
Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 15,000 annually in FY 2007-2011), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991-94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.
In January 2010, the U.S. granted temporary protected status (TPS) for 18 months to Haitians living illegally in the U.S. During that period, they were allowed to live and work in the U.S. upon submission and approval of a TPS application. On May 17, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an extension and re-designation of TPS for Haiti. The extension will allow Haitians who have already been granted TPS following the earthquake to re-register and remain in the United States through January 22, 2013. In addition, DHS re-designated Haiti for TPS--meaning that Haitian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011, may now also be eligible to apply for TPS and will be allowed to stay in the United States through January 22, 2013. The extension and re-designation of TPS became effective July 23, 2011.
U.S. Assistance to Haiti
Political insecurity, embargo and debt policies, and the failure of Haiti's government to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources have contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Following the January 2010 earthquake, the U.S. Government, working with the Government of Haiti and the United Nations system, executed what became the largest international humanitarian response to a natural disaster in U.S. history.
Haiti’s recovery is a strategic imperative for the United States. The U.S. Government’s development strategy focuses on stimulating economic activity and enhancing the delivery of basic services in designated development corridors, or areas of the country, while engaging the private sector in the reconstruction process. Consistent with the Haitian Government's action plan, the U.S. Government’s reconstruction and long-term development plan seeks to support new and diverse economic opportunities outside of Port-au-Prince using focused and catalytic investments in housing, energy, agriculture, health, security, and national and local governance. The U.S. Government strategy consists of investments in four focus areas or "pillars" critical to achieving economic growth and stability: infrastructure and energy; food and economic security; health and other basic services; and governance and rule of law. For more information on the strategy, seehttp://www.state.gov/s/hsc/rpt/index.htm.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.
Opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's infrastructure (particularly relevant in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake); developing tourism and allied sectors--including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations.
Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act--which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials--the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative. The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act provides additional duty-free preferences for qualifying apparel/textiles products and automotive wire harnesses.
The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The Haitian Government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has made a commitment to improving the business environment and attracting foreign investors. Its Center of Investment Facilitation (CFI) aims to facilitate and promote local investment by reducing administrative delays, streamlining the creation of enterprises, and facilitating the provision of inducements. For more information on the CFI, see http://www.cfihaiti.net/j10/index.php/en/.
Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov under opportunities, market research, Country Commercial Guides.
Haiti's Membership in International Organizations
Haiti and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States (OAS), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. 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 achieve policy goals.