From Instability to Investment

  • Posted on: 8 October 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

In late 2006, we were blogging about Haiti’s kidnapping crisis.  Now in late 2009, we are blogging about investment opportunities.  Much has changed.  Just last week, hundreds of potential investors gathered for the largest investment conference ever held in Haiti, organized by the Inter American Development Bank with financial support from the Canadian government.  Will trade become more important than aid some  day?  This depends on the answers to two questions.  First, can investors make a return on their investments?  Second, will the government allocate new resources in an effective, accountable way that benefits all of Haiti and not just the cities?

 

At the investment conference, more than 500 private sector representatives ttended including US, Canadian, Dominican, Brazilian and Colombian corporations.  Gap, Levi Strauss and American Eagle Outfitters were there, enticed by the HOPE II Legislation through which duties on apparel assembled in Haiti are removed.  Citibank and Scotiabank were present in order to discuss loans for interested investors, important given that so few commercial and industrial properties are being constructed, at least in part, because of a lack of credit.

 

According to the Miami Herald, 74% participants said they had an investment project in Haiti in mind and preferred a joint venture with projects of $5 million and more.  Most came away with a more positive opinion about investing in Haiti but 96(!) percent of those surveyed named a lack of electricity and roads as the primary concern.  Security came in second at 48%.

 

Clinton called on the investors to help promote Haiti's image abroad as a tourist destination. Royal Caribbean International is building a $55 million cruise ship pier in Labadee that has hosted 10 million visitors since 1985.  It is hoped that the Labadie beach resort can draw up to 1 million tourists a year by 2011.  Of Haiti's 800,000 visitors last year, 500,000 were ferried in by Royal Caribbean.  The cruise line charged each a $6 government tax, adding $3 million to government's coffers.  The fee will be increased to $10 after the pier is completed, with the additional funds being used for operations and improvement.

 

Royal Caribbean committed to boosting the local economy by buying food from Haitian producers.  They will also establish a vocational training school to train people in the hospitality industry.  But tourism in Haiti face major obstacles including a lack of hotel rooms and infrastructure.  Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald notes that this tourism push comes in the context of the United States and other nations downgrading travel warnings to Haiti, the country's southern coast enjoying a resurgence of domestic tourism, and Port-au-Prince's international airport undergoing a $1 million modernization.

 

Clinton called for expanding the Cap-Haitian airport for international flights so that visitors can avoid Port-au-Prince and the long, harrowing drive to the north.  If not for the instability, this would have been done long ago.  Looking at Jamaica, for example, it would certainly hurt their tourism industy if all tourists had to go through Kingston.  Thanks to the Montego Bay secondary airport, it is not an issue. The upgrading of Cap Haitian’s modest airport so that jets can land, after many delays, may actually happen.  Parliament has reportedly ratified a $30 million loan agreement with Venezuela to do so.

 

The Haitian Ministry of Tourism is eager to benefit from tourism as all countries of the Caribbean do to some extent.   The Citadelle, perhaps the most awe inspiring fort in the Western Hemisphere, the San Souci Palace, and the beaches along the northern coast are seen as potential tourism anchors.  Forty million will be invested into the town of Milot to create a vibrant tourist village with arts and craft markets, restaurants, etc.

 

Concerning industry, the Soros Economic Development Fund and the WIN group recently launched a $25 million equity investment fund with the potential of growing to $150 million. Its first investment is a new $50 million industrial park near Cité Soleil that is poised to create 25,000 new jobs.  Located on a 60-acre parcel, the West Indies Free Zone is expected to be completed by late 2012.  The project’s initial phase of construction is scheduled for the Fall of 2010.  The industrial park will be located directly adjacent to Cité Soleil's port, and will benefit from reliable, nearby sources of energy and water.

 

A Brazilian textile delegation visited Haiti in early October.  It included representatives from the Brazilian Association of Textile and Clothing (ABIT) and the Brazilian Association of Man-Made Fibers (ABRAFAS). The group visited textile assembly plants in Port-au-Prince and the free-trade zone of Ouanaminthe.

 

Irish tax refund company Taxback will open a call center in Haiti to provide clients with tax documentation help. The project is expected to create about two dozen new jobs.  It’s small, but consider it a pilot project.  If it works, there may be opportunities for future service oriented jobs in Haiti.

 

The U.S. State Department Hemispheric Affairs’ main coordinator for economic initiatives, Charles Shapiro, emphasizes that it makes good sense for the Dominican Republic and Haiti to partner on economic projects.  Shapiro cited Dominican entrepreneurs with investments in Haiti, and Haitians who work on Dominican side of the border and send money back to their country.  Haiti and the Dominican Republic have begun discussions over an air traffic agreement between the two countries.  It is rumored that American Airlines may soon begin service between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo.

 

Several other important conferences are coming up.  The 10th Annual Caribbean Business Forum will be held for October 21 to 24 in Haiti.  Funding is provided agai n by the Inter-American Development Bank with additional support from the government of Taiwan. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Mexican government will host a meeting in November to discuss international cooperation for promoting development in Haiti.

 

But investment is about more than companies. As Paul Farmer put it, “When I talk about the private sector, I don’t mean big business people only, but the ‘Madanm Sara’ (street merchants), the peasants who represent an incredible workforce for this country.  We need to sustain them.  And we also need to make sure that these people find capital to grow their crops and small businesses.  And finally, their children should be able to go to school.”

 

Both Clinton and the IDB agree on the promise of growing local companies. One such company is Caribbean Harvest, a tilapia farm on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that Clinton spent Thursday afternoon touring.  At the farm, fish are raised in an aluminum pool for two months before being sold at 10 cents each to local farmers who put them in a cage.  The cage is then put in the river, and the fish are fed three times a day for the next four months.  Those that weigh one pound are sold back to the farm, while undersized ones are sold by local merchant women who earn as much as $30 a day selling them on the streets.  Those sold back to the farm are then processed and sold to local restaurants, markets and hotels.  The profits are then shared between the business and the farmer.  This could be a promising model to replicate throughout Haiti.

 

In order to maximize investment, Haiti needs reliable, affordable energy.  The Brazilian government has provided $3 million in start-up costs on construction of a new hydroelectric plant in Mirebalais.  The project will eventually flood 450 hectares of arable land, and frankly, that makes me nervous.  Hydroelectic power has a sad history in Haiti.  The World Bank approved a $5 million grant to implement a two year Electricity Loss Reduction Project in Haiti.  This project is intended to improve Electricite D'Haiti (EDH) ovrsight of the energy sector.  And they need that help.  The Haitian Parliament also ratified an energy agreement between Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela.  Venezuela will provide 20,000 barrel per day oil refinery near Gonaives.  Biofuels company Bio Tek and the Haitian government are partnering to increase the use of biofuels in Haiti, in order to create jobs for local sugar cane farmers.  You can see powerpoint presentations on biofuel possibilities presented during the investment conference here.  Some progress so far, but much more investment and reform is needed in the Haitian energy sector.

 

Concerning communications, Digicel is the poster company for successful international investment in Haiti – providing Haitians much needed cellular service, at a reasonable price, making a tidy profit, a portion of which is invested in educational charities. In addition, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is confirming a contract with one of several data service providers in Haiti and two more to come by the year's end, according to Guardian Business.  Interconnecting with BTC and its new fiber optic cable to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince gives cell phone service providers access to a more reliable, faster and more secure transmission method, something which BTC believes is important in a hurricane-sensitive zone.

 

All this attention is welcome and a sign of progress.  But let’s face it – Haiti is still a tough place to business. The World Bank 2010 Doing Business Report ranked Haiti as one of the worst countries for doing business.  Although it has improved three ranks, to 151 from 154.  But despite this difficult environment, there have been some successes – The government has decreased the amount of time it takes to form a company from almost 300 days to 70...still too much but a significant improvement.  Digicel and Royal Caribbean are expanding. Roads are improving and there is a new electrical plant outside of Cite Soleil.  There are new hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers.  Things are not changing as fast as we all would like, but they are changing.

 

Haiti will not overtake Taiwan in attracting foreign investments anytime soon.  But as Maguire noted in his recently released USIP report, Haiti can learn from Taiwan.  Before Taiwan became a modern, industrial economy, it first passed land reforms and got its agricultural house in order.  Factory jobs alone won’t lift Haiti out of poverty.  Only agriculture, in which 66% of the Haitian population is employed, can do that.  It is up to the Haitian government to make sure that the entire country benefits, otherwise inequality and instability will persist.

 

Considering investing in Haiti?  If so, in what?  Please feel free to post in the comments section below. 

 

Bryan

 

 

Comments

I work with a non profit http://www.showmercy.org/ that is beginning work in small Haitian villages building schools and placing qualified teachers in them. We want to change the communities through educating the next generation. That is what I want to invest in. How can we help?

PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 21, 2009 – Kilkenny, Ireland – Irish Entrepreneur Terry Clune has opened an office for his tax refund company taxback.com in Haiti, one of world’s poorest countries.
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Taxback.com - http://www.taxback.com - which provides tax, finance and travel services for clients in more than 100 countries, will employ 24 new staff in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince to provide tax documentation assistance to customers largely in North America.
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Taxback.com’s Haiti initiative is being supported by Digicel and the new office will be in the Digicel building owned by Denis O’Brien.
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Haiti has an unemployment rate close to 70 percent and Terry Clune said he hoped the taxback.com example would encourage other companies to bring employment to Haiti and help stabilise the area.
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“As a business opportunity, Haiti provides a great location for providing services to our clients in North America and there is a large pool of potential staff there with excellent English skills,” Clune said,
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“As a socially responsible company we hope that by creating local jobs taxback.com can help build a better future for this struggling nation.”
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For US President Bill Clinton, who is the UN Special Envoy for Haiti and has been leading the campaign to help rebuild Haiti through the Clinton Global Initiative, commended taxback.com’s move at a conference in Haiti earlier this month: “If we can have call centre in America operating from India and Pakistan, I don’t see why we cannot have one in Haiti. They employ a lot of people in a good environment. So I want to thank [taxback.com].”
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Media Contact: Janine Bennetts +353 876201722 jbennetts@taxback.com
http://www.taxback.com

The violence, poverty and corruption that has blighted Haiti over the past few years has given way to an air of peace, efficiency and optimism. Michael Deibert reports.
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Politically aligned gangs warring across the ramshackle capital of shanty towns and gingerbread houses are a thing of the past in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti, and visitors cannot help but be struck by the feeling of change in the air.
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An airport previously staffed by political cronies, where passengers sweated in boiling halls, is now a model of air-conditioned efficiency. Streets once deserted after sunset now teem with life, with upper-class restaurants in the hillside Petionville district and the kerosene-lit roadside stands of the ti machann (vendors) downtown luring customers late into the evening, something unthinkable only a few years ago.
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Peace has been brought to this Caribbean country of 9 million people through the work of president René Préval’s government, and the 9000-member United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known as 'Minustah'.
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Haiti was previously ruled by the erratic priest-turned-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from 2001 until his ousting in February 2004. This was followed by turmoil under an interim government that ruled until President Préval’s inauguration in May 2006.
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From a police force of just 3500 at the start of Minustah's mandate, Haiti now boasts 9200 police officers, a number projected to grow to 10,000 by the year’s end, and to 14,000 by the end of 2011. Recent mid-term parliamentary elections passed peacefully – no small feat in a country where ballots often threatened civil order.
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In addition, the World Bank, the Inter­national Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) collectively cancelled $1.2bn of Haiti’s debt in June, erasing almost two-thirds of the country's outstanding debt in one stroke. The IADB went even further, approving an additional $120m in grants to help Haiti improve its infrastructure, basic services and disaster prevention plans.
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"Haiti has a lot of potential," says Michèle Pierre-Louis, the country's prime minster and a respected civil society leader before she joined President Préval’s government. "But we have a very fragile civil society, and we've never thought of social mobility and prepared for a middle class."
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Many observers and investors feel a guarded optimism about the country's political and economic prospects.
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"The investment climate in Haiti is far better now than it was during the [interim] period or the days of President Aristide, that can be said without any doubt," says Lance Durban, a US businessman who first arrived in Haiti in 1979 and now runs Manutech, an electronics manufacturing company employing about 450 people. "You're close to the US market, you have a lot of people who speak English and you have the lowest wages in the Americas."
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Last year, Haiti boasted modest-though-respectable GDP growth of 2.3%, and at the beginning of 2009, President Préval created the Groupe de Travail sur la Compétitivité, a body designed to increase Haiti’s competitiveness in attracting global businesses.
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Beyond the manufacturing sector, new avenues in Haiti’s potential for investors are also opening up. The garment industry, once a lynchpin of Haiti’s economy, could help the country’s economic revival, if given the right incentives and support. In the US, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II) built on a 2007 measure that provided certain Haitian textiles with duty-free status when entering the US. Mining is another area of interest (see In Focus, below).
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Also on Haiti’s business landscape is the OTF Group, a competitiveness consulting firm credited with breathing new life into Rwanda’s tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors following the genocide in the country in 1994. OTF has found encouraging evidence that Haiti might be ripe for a similar renaissance.
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“In terms of the business opportunities, I am amazed by what I think is possible,” says OTF director Rob Henning. “And our role is to facilitate a process by which the Haitians, both the public and private sector, take ownership over industries and try to create a prosperous Haiti where poverty is reduced through wealth creation and the creation of businesses.”
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Though Haiti currently ranks 154 out of the 180 countries covered by the World Bank's Doing Business Index, substantial improvement has been made in cutting down the red tape that once made investing in the country an inexplicable maze for foreign capital.
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It generally now takes a maximum of 40 days to incorporate a company in Haiti, as opposed to the 202 days that it took as recently as 2003. However, the challenges the country faces remain substantial. Weak infrastructure, environmental degradation and deforestation contributed to conditions which saw a trio of hurricanes kill at least 600 people in 2008. After Haiti's Senate passed a measure in May raising the country’s minimum wage to a rate of about $4.90 a day, a 300% increase from its current level, President Préval balked at signing the measure, fearing that it would jeopardise Haiti’s already fragile employment sector.
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Despite this, however, Haiti's business class and its poor majority have learned some hard lessons about working together. In the once-violent Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Saint Martin, member's of Haiti's private sector and local community leaders have been meeting with the support of the Irish charity Concern Worldwide since 2007. A 'peace and prosperity' committee in the district boasts three members from Haiti's private sector and 12 representatives from the community of Saint Martin. A recent general assembly to address community concerns attracted nearly 150 people.
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"You can no longer put a business in a community where it is built against the community," says Ralph Edmond, the president of Farmatrix, which has manufactured pharmaceutical products in the district since 1994, and who is active in the debate. "If we are to live in this country, then we have to live differently than our fathers did before."
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Eurasian Minerals, a coloradobased mining company, in association with Newmont Mining Corporation, has initiated exploratory prospecting procedures at several sites in the north of Haiti, where there could be substantial gold and copper deposits.
In the neighbouring Dominican Republic, the Pueblo Viejo gold deposit has proven to be one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere, with proven and probable reserves of 570,000 kilograms of gold, 3.3 million kg of silver and 192 million kg of copper.
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"Mining could represent a substantial investment in the country, its economy and its infrastructure," says Eurasian Minerals CEO David Cole, noting the potential for "very large" gold deposits in Haiti that have never been properly explored.

Soul of Haiti Foundation aims to boost investment in the Caribbean country, writes *PAMELA DUNCAN*
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AMONG THE guests at this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were a delegation of Haitian business leaders and policymakers who
have a special relationship with the competition. The men are part of the Soul of Haiti Foundation, which was set up earlier this year by 80 Irish business leaders who have been finalists in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. The aim of the group is to improve economic and social circumstances in Haiti. Jean-Maurice Buteau, an adviser to the Soul of Haiti Foundation, was part of the delegation, which came to engage with Irish investors and inform them on incentives to investing in the Caribbean country. “There is great potential for Irish entrepreneurs to invest in Haiti, to create jobs . . and to open markets for them in the region of the Caribbean and the US,” he says.
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The delegation met potential Irish investors at a sector investment session chaired by Neil O’Leary, chief executive of Ion Equity and chairman of
Topaz. The group also had a meeting with Denis O’Brien, who through his mobile-phone company, Digicel, has made the single- biggest investment in
the Caribbean country in its history. The next step is for some of the potential investors who met the delegation to visit Haiti in January on an investment mission organised by the foundation. Buteau says Haiti can take wider lessons from Ireland’s economic development in areas such as tax-free and duty-free trading. He adds that Haiti, where half the population is illiterate, needs to learn from Ireland’s example in using education as a building block for economic success.
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“Our mission here was not only business to create jobs, which is very much needed in our country, but [to look] at how Ireland can help in nation building.”
The delegation also hopes to establish diplomatic ties between Ireland and Haiti. They had a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin,
which Buteau describes as “positive”. Irish entrepreneurs have already had a palpable influence in Haiti, says Buteau, who has been involved in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme since the group first visited Haiti in 2007. The idea was to get the entrepreneurs to see the problems that exist in Haiti, one of the world’s least developed countries.
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Of a population of 10 million, 70 per cent live below the poverty line and unemployment stands at 54 per cent. One child dies every hour from starvation, and almost one-quarter of children under five suffer from
malnutrition. The entrepreneurs were able to use their skills to address some of the problems and help improve living conditions in the communities they visited. Buteau gives the example of a fishing community who were no longer able to catch fish in the waters near the coast. The entrepreneurs provided boats and training so the fishermen could reach fish further out to sea. By providing buildings and solar panels to the isolated village, they also enabled the community to produce ice to chill excess fish for transport and sale.
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In another community, the entrepreneurs provided wind turbines, generators and farm equipment to allow the local people to irrigate a remote valley to diversify their crops. After the crops are grown, the project hopes to create an industry in milling and distributing the grain. Essentially, Buteau says, “they have created entrepreneurs with that mentality of entrepreneurship”. Buteau says the opportunities provided by the entrepreneurs are fantastic, but he believes Haiti has more to offer investors than humanitarian projects. He hopes Irish investors will see this, and invest in the country. “You have to look beyond the poverty and see that these people are fighters, they are survivors, they are struggling for life . . . You see people who are striving to do things, and their resources in terms of being creative
are unbelievable – what they do with what they have. This is entrepreneurship in its truest sense,” Buteau says.
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“These people are very proud . . . They just want to be given the opportunity.”

The 9 November deadline is looming for the submission of bids for a 60% stake in state-owned Telecommunications d'Haiti (Teleco), following an international tender announced in June. The Haitian monopoly fixed line operator is determined to attract an international strategic investor from the telecoms sector to inject capital and expertise to help upgrade and expand its networks and return the company to profitability. Applications from financial groups in consortium with telecoms operators are also being accepted. Teleco, which recently shed approximately two-thirds of its workforce in preparation for privatisation, hopes to conclude an ownership deal on 23 December. Key to attracting a suitable private sector partner could prove to be the incumbent's wireless spectrum assets: it holds 900MHz and 1900MHz GSM mobile frequencies and has permission to launch 3G services, and substantial mobile numbering and other resources, currently held via dormant wireless unit Rectel, as well as nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband spectrum. Teleco also operates a fibre-optic network in the capital Port-au-Prince, and jointly controls an international fibre-optic submarine cable link to the US via the Bahamas Domestic Submarine Network. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the commercial arm of the World Bank, is acting as adviser for the public-private partnership (PPP) project, aided by several international consultancies. The Teleco PPP website is www.haititelecoppp.org. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database will feature a newly updated profile of Haiti on 2 November (see www.telegeography.com/products/global_comms/index.php).

http://www.caribbeandailynews.com/?p=1907
http://www.caribbeandailynews.com/?cat=23
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MIAMI, CMC – In his first official visit to the United States since becoming Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive is calling on investors to come
and do business in his French (kind of) speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.Addressing the Caribbean-Central American Action’s 33rd Miami conference on Tuesday night, Bellerive, a former planning minister, said Haiti is working to lower fees needed to lure investors to the country.
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“It costs too much to invest in Haiti today,” Bellerive said, hoping not just to relay the message that his country is open for business , but that
Haiti is working on making it easier and cheaper for investors to do business there.
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“We have to look at the legal system. We have to look at the administration to see where there are some blockages…we are willing to listen; we are
willing to adapt. We have to lower the cost because we badly need investments,” he added. After years of upheaval and reversals, participants at conference said Haiti is making significant progress with the streets becoming much safer and the political environment is becoming more table.
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In addition, employment in the garment industry has risen to 26,000, up 12,000 in 2006, with Brazilian, Korean and United States companies doing business in the country. “There’s a different energy about Haiti. It’s exciting,” said Jose Perez-Jones, senior vice president of Miami-based shipping line Seaboard
Marine. The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti was hard hit in 2008 by back-to-back hurricanes that prompted massive economic losses. But increased international assistance and a more united, pro-business push by Haitians themselves is helping return the nation of nine million to stability and growth, panelists said.
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A new productivity council, for example, has worked to slash the number of days needed to open a new business from roughly 300 to 75, said Maxime Charles, a Scotiabank executive in Haiti. And last month, a new prime minister took office without major violence in “for the first time, a very smooth transition,” Charles said.

Bellevue wireless company Trilogy Partners today received the Award for Corporate Excellence from the U.S. State Department, the first time a Washington company has received the award for "exemplary business practices in the area of global citizenship."
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Trilogy Chairman John Stanton was in Washington, D.C., to receive the award from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Stanton, in a phone interview this morning, credited the Trilogy team for its work in Haiti over the past decade. "They didn't do this for recognition," he said. "The group's been doing great work for about 10 years in Haiti and years before that in other markets, and worked hard because it's the right thing to do."
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The company's Voila-brand phone service employs more than 500 Haitians and creates jobs indirectly for more than 15,000 through a micro-enterprise venture in which local entrepreneurs sell time on customized phones. Trilogy also heavily supports education in the impoverished country, providing scholarships to more than 5,000 elementary schoolchildren in partership with musician Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti foundation. Stanton, his wife and his business partner acquired the Haiti business and
networks in other international markets that were left from their sale of Western Wireless.
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In addition to Haiti, the company now operates wireless networks in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and New Zealand. Besides making direct contributions, the company is also helping emerging markets by increasing access to telephony and wireless computing. "For us it really is a great enabler of commerce," Stanton said. "It's also an enabler of freedom, democracy if you will -- but it's a great business growth opportunity as well.''
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U.S. ambassadors around the world nominated 42 companies for the award program, started in 1999. The list was narrowed to 11 finalists in October,
including Chevron for work in the Philippines, Cisco Systems for work in Lebanon, Intel in Costa Rica and Oracle in Romania. Finalists "are businesses that recognize the critical role our companies play globally in advancing good corporate citizenship, innovation and democratic principles,'' the October release said.
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Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

By INDERIA SAUNDERS ~ Guardian Business Reporter ~ inderia@nasguard.com:
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Domestic airline Sky Bahamas is spreading its wings in the international travel arena, recently launching the nation's first direct flight from Freeport to Turks and Caicos and readying to chop a similar route from Abaco to Haiti. The move is expected to better position the company against its major competitor Bahamasair, with executives pointing to a 10 percent fare difference in prices between the two airlines for both routes. According to Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Romer, the move is one sparked by an unmet demand those routes to be chartered.
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"Whether persons realize it or not, the lion's share of Haitians reside in the Mud and Pigeon Peas [Abaco] and the lion's share of the Turks and Caicos
[natives] reside in Grand Bahama," he told Guardian Business yesterday. "We looked at what's happening with the local and domestic market [and] model ourselves from what we're seeing. "We're focusing on niche marketing and responding to the needs of clients, so we decided to go directly for competitive costs."
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In that regard, the airline three weeks ago launched service into Providenciales, Turks and Caicos from Freeport and will next week launch a direct flight from Marsh Harbour, Abaco to Haiti. The move to expand comes despite general claw-backs by other airlines. It's presented the perfect opportunity, said Romer, for Sky Bahamas to invest in the company's growth. It's a strategy that may indeed encourage customer loyalty for time when other airlines decide to make that move post-recession.
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This follows a now year-long change in management, with the manager focusing more on innovation and greater efficiency. On that note, the inaugural Haiti flight next week will be more of the
business sort with Bahamas Chamber of Commerce executives expected to be onboard for an official exploration venture with the Haiti Chamber of Commerce, said Romer. "They're encouraging persons who have business interest here to connect with the movers and shakers in Haiti," he added. "They have wonderful business opportunities with persons in Haiti. "And we're the only ones certified with a scheduled license to fly directly there."

Regularly scheduled flights will begin the week after. Romer said the company was hoping to have its newest addition to its five-fleet line prepared for the trip.

OTTAWA - Haiti's new prime minister arrives in Ottawa on Tuesday, carrying an unlikely message - the Western Hemisphere's poorest country is open for business. Haiti is Canada's second-largest recipient of foreign aid, after Afghanistan, and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will announce Tuesday a modest addition of $15 million over two years when he meets with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. The money will come from Foreign Affairs' Global Peace and Security Fund, which will target "rule of law" projects to enhance Haiti's police, corrections and border management, said Cannon's spokeswoman Catherine Loubier.
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Foreign Affairs is spending the extra money because it believes Haiti has made progress in the last year, overcoming the ravages of hurricanes and political instability. Loubier said Canada believes Haiti has reached "a period of stabilization" and wants to "really work on economic development and job creation, and attract investment and trade."
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The Canadian International Development Agency has also committed $555 million to Haiti for the five-year period ending in 2011. Haiti remains desperately poor but that has not deterred Bellerive, who became Haiti's prime minister last month, from trying to drum up foreign investment in his Caribbean island country. Bellerive recently travelled to Miami, to a conference of Caribbean and Central American countries, bringing the message that Haiti was prepared to make it cheaper and easier to do business there.
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"We are willing to listen; we are willing to adapt," he told the Miami Herald newspaper. "We have to lower the cost because we badly need investments." Bellerive will travel to Montreal later in the week for meetings with the leaders of one of the largest Haitian communities in North America.

CARICOM, with the assistance of the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA) reopened a CARICOM Representation Office in the capital Port-au-Prince in 2007 to assist the process. CARICOM, with the assistance of the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA) reopened a CARICOM Representation Office in the capital Port-au-Prince in 2007 to assist the process.
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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 14, 2009 - Haiti is expected to be ready to be part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market's trade in goods come 2010. The CARICOM Secretariat says the country is on target to be compliant with the necessary provisions by that time.
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"The country is now close to completion of a process of revising and developing legislative frameworks to facilitate this process," a statement from the Guyana-based Secretariat said.
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"The level of preparation in Haiti, which for the first time assumes the Chairmanship of the Community on July 1st, 2010, has been very intense."
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CARICOM, with the assistance of the Canadian Agency for International Development (CIDA) reopened a CARICOM Representation Office in the capital Port-au-Prince in 2007 to assist the process.
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As part of this development programme, the CARICOM Secretariat has been helping to build capacity through training in several aspects of Haiti's public sector to strengthen the country's ability to participate fully in the Single Market and the regional integration movement generally.

Apparel manufacturers in Haiti are rushing to get operating again in the face of significant challenges for workers and supply chains.
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The apparel industry in Haiti was a mainstay of the country’s economy, accounting for two-thirds of exports and nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product. As the country struggles to recover from the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, the garment sector will be an important tool in helping it get back on its feet.
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Most factories operating in and around Port-au-Prince escaped the earthquake and its aftershocks with little damage, said Georges Sassine, president of the Association of Industries of Haiti, which represents the country’s manufacturers. He predicts apparel production will be fully back online by the end of February.
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However, the industry faces some daunting hurdles, including getting safety certifications for all factory buildings, even those without visible damage, so production can begin in earnest. Starting Thursday, engineers from the U.S. and France began visiting factories with Haiti’s Minister of Public Works to start the certification process, Sassine said.
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Prior to the quake, 28 apparel and textile companies operated in Haiti. They employed 28,000 workers at last count, Sassine said. In one of the largest tragedies caused by the earthquake, the Palm Apparel factory, which manufactured T-shirts for companies such as Gildan Activewear Inc., collapsed, killing an estimated 500 workers.
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Four other factories, including Sassine’s, sustained damages that will take about a month to fix. At least six factories that initially shut down their production have resumed operations, and one denim factory near the border with the Dominican Republic was unaffected by the quake, Sassine said. He is worried companies who worked with contractors in Haiti will be forced to make business decisions that will pull production out of the country.
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Gildan implemented a contingency plan to replace production lost in Haiti after the earthquake by moving it to facilities in the Dominican Republic and Central America, said Laurence Sellyn, executive vice president, chief financial officer and administrative officer for Gildan.
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“We continue to be committed to our long-term presence in Haiti, and we are pleased our contractors are advising us they’re able to start up more quickly than we originally anticipated in the circumstances,” Sellyn said.
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The devastation faced by Haitian workers is also a challenge. Sassine said increasing numbers of workers have returned to work in the factories, but it’s hard to predict the long-term effects, as many were forced to leave the capital city to find shelter or check on their families. As early as Monday, attendance at the factories able to resume production was at 30 percent, and that number climbed to 60 percent by the middle of the week, he said.
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“Every day, more and more are returning,” Sassine said. “If we reach 80 percent [attendance] we will consider ourselves very lucky.” Mobile meal trucks supplied by the Dominican Republic helped some factories feed workers two meals a day, Sassine said, but shelter remains challenging. Sassine said he was working to get 25,000 to 50,000 tents from the U.S. Agency for International Development to offer shelter to workers who returned to the factories.
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U.S. companies are working to gather information and get production going, as well. Gildan employs 40 people in Haiti to oversee social responsibility compliance and quality control at its contract factories, Sellyn said. The company is working with its employees to meet their needs and established a staging area in the Dominican Republic to provide food and water to employees of Gildan and its contractors.
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A spokeswoman for Gap Inc. said the company’s two contractors in Haiti were up and running, including one inside the earthquake zone. Initially the factory had shut down due to some minimal damage, she said, but the company was able to come back online relatively quickly.
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“Gap sources a limited amount of product in Haiti, and we’re committed to continuing to do business there,” the spokeswoman said. “We’re working directly with our vendors to make sure things are resumed as quickly as humanly possible.”
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Hanesbrands Inc. said at least partial production had resumed at all three of its T-shirt sewing contractors. Hanes also said it set up an operation in the Dominican Republic to provide food, water and other aid for its workers. Hanes said it expected production in Haiti to return to pre-earthquake levels by mid-February.
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“We are very thankful that our major contract partners have the wherewithal to resume production, providing critical jobs for employees who are seeking to recover from the aftermath of the earthquake,” said Gerald Evans, president of international business and global supply chain for Hanesbrands.
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According to sources in Haiti and in the U.S., the Dominican Republic opened use of its port to companies to ship goods. The seaport in Port-au-Prince was badly damaged in the disaster, but partial operations started this week, according to some reports. Before the disaster, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80 percent of its population living below the poverty line, was poised to emerge as a success story for international trade proponents. Following the extension of duty free apparel benefits to the country under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, or HOPE, in 2006 and its successor, HOPE II, in 2008, the country’s apparel manufacturing garment sector had grown significantly.
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In the first 11 months of 2009, apparel and textile imports to the U.S. from Haiti grew 24.3 percent to $468 million. On a volume basis, imports to the U.S. advanced 6.8 percent to 217.1 million square meter equivalents.

Economic stragulation of Haiti created legacy impacts still felt today

I have often wondered to myself precisely why Haiti has been an economic basket case for soooo long, unique among its prospering Caribbean neighbors and even to its island neighbor, the Dominican Republic. A foreign policy blog colleague, Sean Goforth, wrote a terrific piece recently, titled ‘The Bifurcation of Hispaniola,’ putting into perspective some – but not the primary – exigent factors that have impacted Haiti’s long stagnated development trajectory. Similarly, ‘The Week’ magazine did an excellent piece last week that went even further in putting into context some of the historical and economic forces that have adversely impacted the once prosperous island nation. You can read more on that here.
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And, of course, we’ve all heard wildly inaccurate reports about Haiti’s historical 1791 ‘pact with the devil’ at Bois Caimon – Pat Robertson’s comments notwithstanding. There are many rational reasons explaining precisely why Haiti is so poor, as The Week’s article and Sean Goforth amply show in their historical analysis. I think, then, we can safely dismiss the pact-with-the-devil theory as the root cause of Haiti’s anemic development.
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More to the point, I was jarred when I received a dispatch , titled ‘The Hate and The Quake,’ about the sordid history of Western economic embargoes against Haiti from a professor of Caribbean history at the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles forwarded to me from a friend, Yvette Roper, an energy infrastructure professional whom I’ve known since my first semester of college. Her e-mail about Beckles was edifying in shedding light on the unreported root cause underlying Haiti’s enduring economic dysfunction which I think many of my readers will find insightful.
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In 1806, fearful that the Haitian Revolution (1804) might inspire enslaved Africans in other parts of the Western hemisphere to rebel, the U.S. Congress banned trade with Haiti, joining French, Spanish and Portuguese boycotts. Global shipping originating in or by Haiti was banned from trading with or entering American and European ports of trade. This coordinated embargo effectively crippled Haiti’s export-driven economy and its development as a once prosperous Caribbean port under French rule. The embargo was renewed in 1807 and 1809, and in one form or another has lasted 197 years – with additional restrictions added in 1991 – until as recently as 2003. The embargo was accompanied by a threat of re-colonization and re-enslavement by the American-European alliance if Haiti failed to compensate France for losses incurred when French plantation owners, as a result of the Haitian Revolution, lost Haiti’s lucrative sugar, coffee and tobacco fortunes supported by slave labor. [Dunkel, 1994] Haiti spent the next 111 years, until 1922, paying 70% of its national revenues in reparations to France – a ransom enforced by the American-European trade alliance as the price for Haiti’s independence.
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As a direct consequence of this orchestrated, century-long economic strangulation, Haiti is, today, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere by any measure:
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Haiti’s debt was $302 million in 1980. In 1997 it was almost $1.1 billion, which is almost 40% of its Gross National Product. The value of its exports has fallen to 62% of 1987 levels. It should be listed as a severely indebted low-income country but the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have refused to do so under the insistence of the North Atlantic alliance.
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Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society. Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last installment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
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More than 80% of the people in the countryside regularly don’t get enough to eat. Some 50% of the people are illiterate; 70% are unemployed; life expectancy for the average citizen of Haiti is 56 years and falling. Infant mortality is more than double the Latin American and Caribbean average. (Figures from PAPDA — the Haitian Platform to Advocate for an Alternative Development) Few people in Haiti have a reliable supply of food and clean water and those who do buy it by the jug, canned or packaged foods – imported from U.S. and French suppliers.
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The well-intentioned interventions of the U.S. have both helped and hurt Haiti. In 1915 the U.S. invaded and occupied the country, fearing a growing German community and other European influences in the Caribbean – what the U.S considers its sphere of influence – in the lead-up to World War I. A period of stability followed, and by the time the U.S. pulled out in 1934, Haiti’s military was well trained, and a structure for elections was in place. But in 1957, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier was elected in an election rigged by the military, and Duvalier soon threw out any pretension of democracy, declaring himself chosen by God to be “president for life.”
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The U.S. tacitly supported him, seeing him as a preferable alternative to growing communist influences, which had taken hold in nearby Cuba. The despotic Duvalier regime was continued under his son, “Baby Doc,” until his forcible overthrow in 1986. Haiti was again thrown in disarray until the popularly supported, democratic election of Jean-Bertran Aristide first in 1994, and again in 2000. And since the re-election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a progressive Man of Faith, the United States in 2004, then under Bush, moved to sabotage Haiti’s fledgling democracy through an economic aid embargo, massive funding of elite opposition groups, support for paramilitary coup attempts, and a propaganda offensive against the Aristide government resulting in his exile.
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Hidden from the headlines for years, this campaign eventually became an open effort to destroy a popularly elected, progressive government in favor of a Republican-friendly regime. Below you can read an excerpt of that Executive Order issued by then President George W. Bush on 5 Nov 2004. In addition, as the AP report about the U.S. Haitian trade embargo I’ve attached above indicates, it was the U.S. government’s intent to weaken the already crippled Haitian government.
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This executive order was the fourth major step taken by the United States under George Bush to impose rigorous sanctions and a crippling trade embargo on Haiti since the forcible exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on October 1, 2004. On October 2, the United States suspended all direct assistance to Haiti. On October 3, the Administration blocked exports to the Haitian police and military. On 5 Nov 2004, President Bush signed an executive order to freeze the assets of the Haitian Government and to prohibit all financial transfers by an American citizen or company to the government in Haiti. Today’s action is an additional step to make it clear that the United States will have no normal trade or diplomatic relations with Haiti until the country elects someone we control and approve of, of course, in a “democratic” election.
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‘…formalizing a comprehensive trade embargo on Haiti, effective November 5. The Administration is taking this additional step to comply with the resolutions of the OAS [Organization of American States] to tighten further the sanctions imposed on Haiti in the wake of the Aristide Government [a government controlled by the U.S.] earlier this month. The order applies to all commercial trade with Haiti, both exports and imports of goods and services. The only exception will be for humanitarian purposes: basic food staples, like wheat, sugar, rice, flour, cooking oil, and essential medicines. The OAS resolution, which called for a trade embargo, specifically made an exception for such humanitarian assistance.’
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‘Except for humanitarian assistance…’ – legally required assistance under the existing Executive Order and the most recent embargo implemented by former president Bush – which brings us to the extraordinary efforts currently being coordinated by the U.S. government in the wake of the earthquake. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. These orders are still in effect today, and subject to formalized foreign policies toward Haiti and enforced via the hemispheric Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank, with the continuing support of other European allies – including, importantly, France.
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America further exerted its hemispheric control to the detriment of Haiti when then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke at the Organization of American States meeting in Santiago, Chile in June 2003, warning that the OAS would re-evaluate its role in Haiti if the Aristide government did not conform to OAS resolutions about the organization of Haiti’s elections. This was also a warning to Latin American countries to follow U.S. policy on Haiti. Aristide was later overthrown (2004) and replaced by a provisional government until the 2006 elections installed the Republican-friendly Rene’ Preval regime.
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More recently, the U.S. government added another embargo on loans to Haiti through the OAS, the Inter-American Development Bank and got the European Union, formerly another large donor to Haiti, to do the same. The United States took this action under President George W. Bush to undo the efforts of former President Bill Clinton who had sought, during his administration, to support the progressive Aristide regime and to re-integrate Haiti into world commerce. His effort on that front continues today.
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Of course, I was incredulous in learning all this, but several hours in the Library of my alma mater and a few more on the internet researching long-standing pacts involving Haiti have borne out the facts. And they are indisputable: Haiti’s economic and development dysfunction, it turns out, has absolutely nothing to do with voodoo, nor incompetence, and everything to do with deliberate economic strangulation – that continues to this day – initiated by France, and later coordinated by the U.S and European allies to enforce democracy or to coerce economic sanctions and debt repayment over a period of 197 years – almost two centuries. Haiti today cannot be understood outside the context of the legacy, and current, impacts of the tiny nation’s continuous string of trade embargoes, economic isolation, political dysfunction, and indebtedness induced and coordinated by Western allies from the nation’s inception following the Haitian Revolution, until today.
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Sources: CIA World Fact Book, U.S. Department of State Archives, OAS Publications, Encyclopedia Britannica, A History of the Caribbean (), et al.

NEW DELHI, India -- The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) saluted one of the largest and most successful lodging franchisors in the world for redoubling its commitment to Haiti after this month's deadly earthquake.
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Responding to an announcement by Choice Hotels International that it will not be pulling out of Haiti, CMEx Director Lelei LeLaulu hailed the news as "a strong, positive and optimistic message to send to the international travel and tourism market and the investment community. It is also a booming vote of confidence in the resilience and resourcefulness of the Haitian people."
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Earlier this month, Choice announced that a new Comfort Inn hotel and Ascend Collection member hotel would mark the first-ever Choice-brand properties for the nation of Haiti. "For obvious reasons, plans for both properties are on hold right now, but we are not pulling out of Haiti," a spokesman said this week.
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LeLaulu, also co-chairman of the Innovation for Sustainable Development Center, commended Choice, a Fortune 500 company, for "affirming the unique and potent role the travel and hospitality industry can, and must, play in ensuring Haiti's recovery is sustainable."
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Stephen P Joyce, Choice's President and CEO, is rallying resources at the corporate and associate level to have a positive impact on the humanitarian and development efforts underway in Haiti both today and for the future, reminding his staffers that the Choice Hotels International Foundation will expeditiously match their donations to eligible not-for-profit organizations.
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The executive announced that as an organization, Choice is making use of its vast distribution network and partnerships at an upcoming Kickoff To Rebuild community revitalization event in Miami on Thursday, February 4. "We are working with Rebuilding Together and The Steve Harvey Morning Show to use this national event as a collection and donation site," he announced, adding that Choice is currently exploring ways to provide immediate relief in the form of needed supplies, including water, food and other materials to its conversion property in Jacmel via qualified vendors and outside resources. While damaged, the building slated for the new hotel there is still standing.
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This Comfort Inn hotel was set to open in 2010, becoming the first global hotel brand that the nation of Haiti has hosted in more than a decade. Choice's two Haiti hotels, including a new luxury Ascend Collection member hotel, were to be located in Haiti's historic township of Jacmel. The projects were underway in partnership with a group of Haitian-American investors.
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"Haiti needs all hands on deck at this time, and we look forward to more companies following Choice's example because tourism is the one industry which can, relatively quickly, speed the creation of jobs and the revival of business in this devastated but culturally rich nation," said LeLaulu.

BY LUISA YANEZ
lyanez@MiamiHerald.com
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Sara C. Babún has spent most of her life in the ocean shipping business on the Miami River. As president and CEO of Antillean Marine Shipping, she has seen tons of cargo headed for Haiti. But last week, she had a priest come to a company berth and bless an outgoing vessel -- the 295-foot Christina Express, which sailed to Port-au-Prince loaded down with more than 1.2 million ready-to-eat meals for earthquake victims.
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``Haitians are in a very difficult situation,'' said Babún, speaking in her office, decorated with maps of the Caribbean and photographs of freighters. ``This tragedy has affected me personally because I see all this misery and I feel I'm in a position where I can help.''
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For years, the Miami River has been the lifeline to Haiti. Giant freighters hauled typical cargo of rice, beans, old cars, mattresses, and yes, bicycles. A Haitian family could drive to the river, present a 40-pound bag of rice and have one of the 20-odd terminals ship it to relatives in Haiti at a good rate. Now, the rebuilding of Haiti is expected to turn the Miami River into a waterway of hope. The gritty, 5 ½-mile tributary will help get heavy goods and equipment to the disaster area cheaper than by air or major ports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
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The typical river cargo will soon shift to sheets of wood, slabs of steel, bags of concrete, rebar, concrete mixers and pickup trucks, say river and area shipping experts. ``The river is going to play a crucial role in the rebuilding of Haiti, as will South Florida,'' said Eric Buermann, chairman of the Miami River Commission.
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It takes only three days for a freighter to navigate from Miami to Haiti. ``There is no doubt we are going to be the main port for goods,'' said Richard Dubin, president of the Miami River Marine Group and owner of Caribbean Ship Services, which books freighters to Haiti. ``The river will play a bigger role than the local ports or airports because freight cargo is a cheaper way to move goods.''
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Already, federal contractors tapped to help in the rebuilding are hiring vessels to haul goods to Haiti's main ports: Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, Miragone and Gonaïves, or even to port cities in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Experts say when the aid flights have tapered off and the world's attention wanes, the relief and rebuilding material will continue moving through the river.
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``The river is going to have to handle it,'' Buermann said. A four-year, $89 million project to dredge it of the black muck that snarled traffic was recently completed. A deeper bottom allows ships to carry more cargo -- twice as much -- without scraping bottom. But the river does have a limited capacity, with berths for just over 20 freighters from its mouth in downtown to where it ends near Miami International Airport.
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Buermann said soon more freighters will likely be visible off Miami Beach, waiting for an open berth to free up. ``They'll be stacked up offshore more than ever before,'' he said.

Caribbean Net News
By Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere
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DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) -- Bill Clinton urged business chiefs to invest in Haiti this week -- but concerns over security and administrative chaos cloud hopes of an foreign investment boom on the devastated island state. The former US president made his pitch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, telling corporate supremos that they should see helping Haiti as a business opportunity rather than aid.
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Former US president Bill Clinton talks during the Special Session on Haiti, on the second day of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, which is to be attended by 2,500 top politicians, captains of industries and civil society leaders. Tourism, construction, agro-business and textiles show huge potential for profit on the impoverished island, where some 170,000 people were killed and one million left homeless by the January 12 earthquake, the forum was told.
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"The Forum has done everything it can to persuade companies to donate, but also to commit themselves over the long-term," said Canadian Robert Greenhill, WEF director general. "We want to interest as many big global businesses as possible for viable opportunities," he added at the Davos meeting, which gathers some 2,500 business and political leaders.
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A Haiti stand was set up in the middle of the snow-shrouded concrete Kongresshaus conference centre where the annual blue-chip meeting ended this weekend, to allow business chiefs to find out more.
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Dozens of companies were put in contact with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said Greenhill, who had just come out of a meeting with some 20 corporate bosses. "There have been some very interesting responses. But we have to be persistant, not naive... for example we can't talk about textiles if we don't talk about insurance, infrastructure and security institutions.
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"We have to put this integrated and comprehensive approach within 12 months. As soon as essential humanitarian activities are over, perhaps the private sector can move in," he added. Clinton underlined the need to help develop the two thirds of Haiti not directly impacted by the quake, notably to allow tourism. UN agencies have called for infrastructure investment, as well as hospitals.
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Even before the earthquake, the Haiti government had drawn up a UN-backed development plan last year following hurricane damage the previous year. Clinton travelled to Port-au-Prince last October with some 200 business chiefs. Briton Paul Collier, an economics professor at Oxford University who specialises in fragile states, said the earthquake --and the international attention it galvanises -- might actually trigger progress in the longer term.
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"The response to the earthquake can potentially be a transformative shock," he said. While acknowledging Haiti's weak administration, chronic insecurity and widespread corruption, he said: "By the standards of failing states the cost of transforming Haiti will not be massive: this is not Afghanistan."
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Haiti is located next door to the world's biggest market, in a generally peaceful region and with relief from customs duties and quotas in the United States, he noted. Collier called for "exporting zones" to be set up in Haiti, with clusters of businesses enjoying reliable power supplies and export arrangements. Textile companies in particular could benefit.
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"From the important perspective of market access Haiti is now the world's safest production location for garments," he said, adding that Haiti has labour costs "that are fully competitive with China."
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Other development opportunities include mango plantations -- which would help fight deforestation -- or other agro-food business ventures targeting the export market. But much depends on funding to help Haitians get a foot on the first rung of the business ladder. "Haiti has a chronic need for risk capital that is sufficiently patient to enable some firms to be first-movers," said Collier.

Miami Herald
BY JIM WYSS
jwyss@miamiherald.com
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A few blocks from where men lined up for backbreaking jobs digging corpses from the rubble for about $3 a day, a hotel was selling a ham sandwich for five times that amount.
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And as throngs of anxious Haitians jostled for bags of rice being tossed from the back of a U.N. truck, women at a market struggled to find buyers for their overflowing sacks of fruits, grains and vegetables.
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Haiti's earthquake pulverized concrete and twisted metal, but it also distorted the nation's economy, as it wiped out thousands of jobs and sparked a rush on humanitarian aid. Now, as Haitians still dig for their dead and the government struggles to reorganize, the business community is trying to figure out how to jump-start the economy amid a historic opportunity to reshape the nation.
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No one knows the exact economic toll of the Jan. 12 earthquake that is thought to have killed 170,000 and left one million homeless. But economists speculate that it wiped out at least half of the nation's gross domestic product, or about $3 billion to $4 billion.
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In downtown Port-au-Prince, where much of the nation's industry was clustered, about 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed. ``Downtown was the lung and heart of the economy of Haiti and now it's completely a ghost town,'' said Reginald Boulos, president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. In the days after the earthquake, many businesses saw their stores looted or merchandise lost to fires, he said. Even worse, the administration has failed to articulate a recovery plan.
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``We have no idea yet what the government's plans are for downtown,'' said Boulos, who lost an auto dealership and grocery stores to the earthquake. ``Not knowing where we are going may be as bad as what happened that day.'' Wearing jeans and blue Converse sneakers without laces, Boulos was preparing to host some of the nation's top business leaders at his home to try to begin sketching out a recovery plan. Among the ideas are bulldozing downtown Port-au-Prince and providing tax breaks for those willing to set up factories in the long-neglected countryside. ``We have to decentralize,'' he said. ``This catastrophe is an opportunity to create the new Haiti Inc. where every single Haitian is a shareholder.''
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Already the poorest nation in the hemisphere, 80 percent of the population toils under the poverty line. Unemployment before the quake was thought to be as high as 70 percent and Haiti is heavily reliant on imports and remittances to stay afloat. But things had been looking up for the country of nine million. Kidnappings, which had scared away tourists and investors, were dramatically down. Garment exports were booming under a new trade pact. Inflation was under control.
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``I really thought this was going to be Haiti's year,'' said Norma Powell, the liaison officer for Brasseire Nationale d'Haiti, which runs the nation's biggest bottling plant and brews the country's only beer, Prestige. ``We were so gung-ho. Tourists were coming back, life was picking up. Now, it's like we crashed and burned.''
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The quake disrupted the plant's water, milk and beer production lines. Of its 1,450 employees, only about a third have been put back to work. With a little luck, the company hopes to have its factory running at full speed again within two months, she said. As global aid agencies continue to flood the seaport and airport with food and water, it would be easy to believe that Haiti had lost the ability to feed itself. While the nation does import food, about 66 percent of workers are involved in agriculture. And unlike the hurricanes that wiped out crops, the earthquake left farms virtually untouched.
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``There are goods and services that are being produced locally, but Haitians don't have the money to buy them,'' explained Eric Overvest, the country director of the United Nations Development Program. UNDP has started a work-for-cash program, which hopes to inject money into the economy by hiring up to 220,000 people to clear rubble. But
the United Nations has not reached out to the private sector yet, and that's a mistake, said Bolus from the chamber of commerce. Haiti has water-bottling companies, bakeries and pasta factories, he said, yet aid agencies are flying in many of those products.
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``None of [these Haitian companies] have been used so far to produce things that the international community could have purchased here locally,'' he said. Some also fear that the influx of rice, oil and other staples could undercut local farmers.
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Marcus Prior, spokesman for the World Food Program, is sensitive to those concerns and said the rice distribution effort is designed to cover about half the caloric needs of the targeted population. ``We fully expect people to supplement what we give them with other produce,'' he said. ``But we are aware that there may also be an associated drop in food prices with this large scale distribution. But that will help the people that have been worst affected by the earthquake.''
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Prices may still drop, but a recent stroll through a local market suggested they haven't yet. Vendors said the prices of oil, beans, rice, bread and noodles were increasing, and the price of goods imported from neighboring Dominican Republic have soared.
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``Prices are up at least 30 percent,'' said Cherlange Rosius, who buys food wholesale and distributes it to local vendors. And a roll of Dominican salami that cost 15 gourdes, or about 45 cents, before the earthquake cost almost six times that much. Responding to the influx of journalists and aid workers, the service sector has also jacked up prices: $4 Coca-Colas are not uncommon, and at hotels too damaged to rent rooms, guests can spend up to $100 a night to pitch tents in the parking lot.
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The massive inflow of aid dollars has also caused the local currency to spike about 25 percent. It has since retreated, but an overpriced gourde could strangle Haitian exports, which may emerge as one of the bright spots in the post-earthquake economy.
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There will be other bright spots, too. Much of the city needs to be razed and rebuilt, which already has local and foreign firms jockeying for contracts, and scrap and cement-recycling companies are eyeing the mountains of rubble the earthquake generated.

F.or many though, it's too soon to think about the future. Camille la Juste, 45, spent seven years building up his restaurant, Datente, in Petionville. The earthquake sent the disco that sat above him crashing through the top of his establishment. What the rubble didn't crush, looters took. Asked what he would do next, he said "Nothing. I can't do anything else." Then he loaded the only thing he salvaged from the restaurant: a china cabinet that was too sturdy to destroy and too heavy to steal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/sports/baseball/04sandomir.html
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New York Timnes
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
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Nearly 20 years ago, Rawlings Sporting Goods closed its baseball assembly plant in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and completed a move to its other factory in Costa Rica. Rawlings cited Haiti’s political instability for idling about 1,000 workers.
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Now, almost a month after the earthquake that caused innumerable deaths and widespread suffering and devastation, does Rawlings have a duty to send some business back to Haiti? Major League Baseball should prod Rawlings, its official baseball
supplier since 1977, to consider such a move as one way to try to help Haiti. But Bud Selig & Company can no more demand that Rawlings heads back to Haiti than the company can tell M.L.B. whom to sell the Texas Rangers to.
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And although there would be public relations value to returning to Haiti, there are great challenges. Companies willing to invest there know it will take substantial time to rebuild the infrastructure, institutions and housing needed to make major investments pay off in a country plagued by extreme poverty and sky-high unemployment.
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“Do they have an obligation?” Josh DeWind, a co-author of “Aiding Migration: The Impact of International Development Assistance on Haiti,” said Tuesday in a telephone interview, referring to Rawlings. “I suppose they did quite well in Haiti, so, yes, in a humanitarian sense, it would be morally right to go back and help out, given that
they benefited from Haiti.”
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He added that the despot Jean-Claude Duvalier helped foster the low-cost business environment “by making sure there were no independent unions.” DeWind said Rawlings was not alone in paying its workers “what the World Bank called less than the minimum daily amount to support a family.”
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Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986 and, in the chaotic years afterward, Rawlings and other companies left. Rawlings found peace at its baseball factory in Turrialba, Costa Rica. A small division within the Jarden Corporation, a conglomerate in Rye, N.Y., Rawlings is a licensee that pays royalties to baseball and provides teams with 110 dozen free baseballs each season. Teams pay a discounted price for additional balls, with teams buying 2,500 dozen to 3,500 dozen more per season.
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Bob DuPuy, the president of M.L.B., which contributed $1 million to Haitian relief, declined to say whether he would push Rawlings to relocate any baseball production. “This is the time for humanitarian concern, concerns about the victims
and life support, and dealing with the horrific trauma that’s been caused,” he said.
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But DuPuy indicated that a conversation with Rawlings about Haiti might occur after “some form of normalcy takes over.” Mark Schneider, a senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, said that incentives like no tariffs on apparel made in Haiti and exported to the United States helped make the country attractive to companies.
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Before the earthquake, he said, there were positive economic developments: employment in apparel factories was rising; Royal Caribbean Cruises announced a $55 million investment in the northern port of Labadee; and the investor George Soros announced a plan to invest in a partnership to build a new free-trade zone.
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In October, hundreds of company executives, bankers and officials of nongovernmental organizations attended a two-day investment conference in Port-au-Prince that was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank and former President Bill Clinton. A survey by the bank, which provides grants to Haiti, found that the gathering had yielded plans for more than 10 projects worth over $5 million, said a spokesman, Pablo Bachelet.
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Schneider would not say if a company like Rawlings would find Haiti, after the relief effort ahead, more attractive than Costa Rica. But, he added, “What you can say is that there are distinct advantages that will make it attractive for a company to consider, for example, expanding production to Haiti.”
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No executive of Jarden would speak for the record. Evan Goetz, a spokesman for the company, said, “There is no plan to relocate production facilities to Haiti.” No one should expect a firm plan from Rawlings right now. But it should study the issue. Julie T. Katzman, general manager of a microfinancing fund at the Inter-American Development Bank, said companies like Rawlings could not be expected to invest solely out of moral obligation.
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“It’s important that a company do something not only out of a social responsibility but how it fits its core enterprise,” she said. “Certainly, you go into Haiti now and there’s a certain amount of dislocation. It takes a commitment, but in the medium and long term, it should be a sustainable place for manufacturing.”
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She suggested that if Rawlings did not want to produce baseballs in Haiti again, it could make apparel. Still, Steven J. Puig, the bank’s vice president for private sector operations, said there was a good-deed side to investing in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
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“Going forward,” he said, “just the seal on any product that says ‘Made in Haiti’ will have a different connotation, which will reflect that a
company is contributing to a better world.”

BY MARTHA BRANNIGAN AND JACQUELINE CHARLES
mbrannigan@MiamiHerald.com
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As Haiti begins digging out from under 60 million cubic meters of earthquake wreckage, U.S. firms have begun jockeying for a bonanza of cleanup work.
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It's unclear at this point who will be awarding the cleanup contracts, but there is big money to be made in the rubble of some 225,000 collapsed homes and at least 25,000 government and office buildings.
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At least two politically connected U.S. firms have enlisted powerful local allies in Haiti to help compete for the high-stakes business. Randal Perkins, the head of Pompano Beach-based AshBritt, has already met with President René Préval to tout his firm's skills. To press his case, Perkins, a big U.S. political donor with a stable of powerful lobbyists, has lined up a wealthy and influential Haitian businessman, Gilbert Bigio, as a partner.
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Perkins isn't the only hard-charging contender for cleanup work. Another is Bob Isakson, managing director of Mobile, Ala.-based DRC Group, a disaster recovery firm whose résumé includes hurricanes, wars, ice storms and floods. He's also met with Préval since the earthquake. How the work is delegated and who ends up awarding the contracts remains to be seen, but Préval is expected to play a pivotal role in setting priorities, even if others hold the purse strings. The United Nations designated former President Bill Clinton to coordinate Haitian relief efforts, and an international forum to coordinate plans is expected to be held this spring.
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``We don't know who's going to fund the cleanup and how it's going to proceed. That's all a mystery,'' DRC's Isakson said. ``But cleaned up it has to be.''
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In his Jan. 28 meeting with Préval, which was attended by a Miami Herald reporter who was chronicling a day in the president's life, Perkins made a hard sell, boasting of AshBritt's $900 million U.S. government contract to clean up after Hurricane Katrina and promising his firm would create 20,000 local jobs. ``It does no good if you bring in predominantly U.S. labor and when it's done, they leave. This is an opportunity to train thousands of Haitian people in skills and professions,'' Perkins, a 45-year-old Sweetwater native, told The Miami Herald. ``If you don't create jobs for Haitians, your recovery is going to be a failure.''
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AshBritt, Perkins said, also has clinched a coveted contract to handle future disaster cleanup work for the U.S. government in California and several other states. ``First and foremost, we have the experience,'' Perkins said. That experience has come with controversy. After Katrina, some questioned whether AshBritt's political donations or lobbyists paved the way for its fat federal contracts. The lobbyists have included: Barbour Griffith & Rogers, a firm founded by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; Mike Parker, a former Mississippi Republican congressman who also was a senior official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Ron Book, a South Florida power broker.
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Congressional hearings after Katrina aired objections that local contractors were passed over in favor of AshBritt. A 2006 congressional report examining federal contract waste and abuse noted AshBritt used multiple layers of subcontractors, each of whom got paid while passing on the actual work to others.
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Even now, AshBritt is under scrutiny by the Broward school district after an internal audit found the company allegedly overbilled by $765,000 for work after Hurricane Wilma in October 2005.
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Perkins said the internal auditor's assertions ``are so baseless and frivolous.'' He said a pending outside audit, ordered by the school district, will show that AshBritt did everything correctly.
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The federal government wouldn't have recently re-awarded and extended a contract for future disaster cleanup work if AshBritt were in question, Perkins said. ``It's federal money. If anything the auditor said were true, I'd be debarred by the federal government,'' Perkins said.
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The AshBritt audit has drawn more attention since the arrest in September 2009 of suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher in a federal corruption probe involving the school district's construction program. Gallagher has pleaded not guilty. Investigators have subpoenaed thousands of records pertaining to the audit and questioned board members about Book, who is registered as the lobbyist for AshBritt before the Broward County Commission, but not before the School Board.
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DRC, meanwhile, was also quick to react to the potential for new business in Haiti. It had people on the ground in Haiti within 36 hours after the Jan. 12 quake. Since then, it has been helping Haitian officials and also made a charter plane available to help in relief efforts.
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DRC, whose Haiti headquarters is a squat, yellow building off one of Port-au-Prince's main thoroughfares, has been helping in the sensitive task of removing bodies and debris at the Hotel Montana, where dozens of aid workers, college students and United Nations employees died. It also has done work at bank sites around the city.
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``We've been asked to do quite a few sites for demolition and the recovery of victims,'' said Isakson, a former FBI agent. ``It's a daunting task. It's far from the normal disaster. It's more delicate. The victims' families want to come to the site and have closure.''
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DRC, which has been in Haiti for several years and built a campsite used for the construction of the U.S. Embassy in the capital, has teamed up with V&F Construction, one of Haiti's largest road builders and part of the Vorbe Group, which is run by a powerful Haitian family. Isakson said the company's current work is modest, including setting up generators, toilets and showers.
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Meanwhile, Bergeron Emergency Services, part of J.R. Bergeron's Bergeron Land Development in Pembroke Pines, is already running ads to hire heavy equipment operators and project managers to do demolition and debris removal in Haiti. Bergeron couldn't be reached for comment.
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For his part, Perkins has been making frequent trips between South Florida and Port-au-Prince and meeting with Haitian government ministers. His local partner, Bigio, is chairman of GB Group in Haiti, a large industrial and commercial company. Perkins, who said he had dinner with the Haitian ambassador in Washington two days after the earthquake, envisions using the cleanup of Haiti to lay a foundation for a new economy in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
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He said he wants to set up training programs to develop job skills for Haitians and also is talking about hiring Haitian Americans in South Florida to go to Haiti to help in the cleanup and to bridge language and culture gaps. ``The work over there is a massive undertaking that is going to require multiple companies with various disciplines,'' Perkins said.
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``It's all about creating jobs,'' he added. ``When faced with major devastation and loss of life and property, you have a new opportunity to do things in a new and different way.''
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Miami Herald staff writer Jim Wyss in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.

Washington Post
1.15.2010
By Juan Forero
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/14/AR201002...
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- Last month's earthquake battered Reginald Boulos's small empire, destroying one of his supermarkets, badly damaging a hotel and killing two workers at his car dealership. But with foreign aid flowing and a sympathetic world watching, Boulos envisions a new Haiti: one focused on quickly creating jobs while purging its ruling class of the cronyism that helped make this one of the world's poorest countries.
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"This is what the earthquake is today -- an opportunity, a huge opportunity," said Boulos, a brash 54-year-old former doctor who once worked in Haiti's most notorious slum. "I think we need to give the message that we are open for business. This is really a land of opportunities." Haiti's elite -- a small, politically connected group as confortable lobbying President René Préval as lawmakers in Washington -- is positioning itself for business opportunities emerging from their country's reconstruction. The textile industry in particular, which survived the temblor largely intact, is gearing up to add tens of thousands of jobs, thanks to U.S. legislation approved in 2008 that gives Haitian garments duty-free, quota-free access to the United States.
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But for some Haitians, it is a cruel irony that a business community they consider clannish, corrupt and responsible for the country's backwardness could be spearheading efforts to jumpstart the economy. "Haitian business people, they exploit the workers, and they lie to the multinational agencies about working conditions," said Yannick Etienne, a labor organizer with Batay Ouvriye, a workers' rights group. "When you see the way they treat people here, it's difficult to really expect much from them."
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Haiti's business community is central to a rough blueprint for reconstruction being developed by the Préval administration, Haitian entrepreneurs and multilateral lenders such as the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB. Business leaders and economists say the plan would curtail corrupt practices and find a way to jump-start moribund industries to generate tens of thousands of jobs in this country of nearly 10 million.
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"I'm not going to get into who is corrupt, who's not, but what I have found is that the business community realizes that it has to change," said Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB. "These are people who are thinking about paying more taxes, about taking part in rebuilding Haiti for the good of the country."
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The IDB estimates that $3 billion to $4 billion is needed to rebuild homes and government buildings and also add the kind of infrastructure and state services necessary for a long dysfunctional country to compete with its neighbors. Eduardo Almeida, the IDB's representative in Haiti, said the goal is to rebuild "in a vision of increasing the productivity, in a vision of providing the infrastructure so that the cost of products in Haiti are much lower."
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But many Haitians say that talk of increased productivity is as foreign a concept as prosperity in a country mired in 19th-century ways. The infrastructure is decrepit, with off-road vehicles needed in much of the capital. The country imports nearly all its food, much of it in donations. Gross capita income is barely $1,000 a year, although 70
percent of the population is unemployed and millions live on less than $1 a day. Many of the 4 million Haitians of working age speak bitterly about their economic prospects and direct much of their ire at the business elite.
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Marcelus Desfauleau, who has five children, said he has been unemployed for five years. "We were not lucky enough to find jobs in the factories," he said. "The bourgeoisie look out for the interests of the bourgeoisie." Eliacin Cadet, 24, who on a recent day was searching for work at Sonapi Industrial Park, said he is not hopeful things will change. "I do not really think they care about people standing around here," he said. "They always say they are creating jobs -- but it is not true. We are still hungry."
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Georges Sassine, president of the manufacturers association in Haiti, bristles at such criticism. Union organizers say factory pay, which hovers around $4 a day, amounts to sweatshop wages, but Sassine said that is three to four times what most Haitians earn. He noted that the number of jobs in the textile industry has doubled in just a few years to more than 28,000. With the help of American trade preferences, he and IDB economists say, that number will quickly reach 150,000, with each of those jobs indirectly creating three more.
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Still, Sassine, who owns a textile factory, acknowledged that Haitians need to "redefine the way the country should be run," with an emphasis on delivering important services such as ed ucation. "That's what we set out to do, to change the foundation of this country, to make it right because it's not right," he said. A sort of envoy for industry, Sassine travels worldwide to meet with investors and to lobby influential lawmakers, such as Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. With a wry smile, Sassine talked of such distant prospects as tax credits for Americans who invest in Haiti and even a railroad someday.
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"I remember someone saying, 'A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,' " Sassine said. "It is true." But his optimism is tempered by harsh realities. "We're not trying to say Haiti is going to become Sweden in 10 years," he said. "Haiti is going to be Haiti of 1950." The Haiti of today, the one trying to get back on its feet, is readily apparent at One World Apparel. Charles Baker, the owner and a candidate for president, said he marveled that workers who had lost their homes quickly returned to sewing the overalls and lab coats his company makes.
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"Within three days they were producing what they were producing before the earthquake," he said. "For me, it's unbelievable. And that gives you hope, that in itself. These people are the real heroes of Haiti.

2/7/2010
McClatchy Newspapers
By Jim Wyss
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http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=67867
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A few blocks from where men lined up for backbreaking jobs digging corpses from the rubble for about $3 a day, a hotel was selling a ham sandwich for five times that amount. And as throngs of anxious Haitians jostled for bags of rice being tossed from the back of a U.N. truck, women at a market struggled to find buyers for their overflowing sacks of fruits, grains and vegetables. Haiti's earthquake pulverized concrete and twisted metal, but it also distorted the nation's economy, as it wiped out thousands of jobs and sparked a rush on humanitarian aid.
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Now, as Haitians still dig for their dead and the government struggles to reorganize, the business community is trying to figure out how to jump-start the economy amid a historic opportunity to reshape the nation. No one knows the exact economic toll of the Jan. 12 earthquake that is thought to have killed 170,000 and left 1 million homeless. But economists speculate that it wiped out at least half of the nation's gross domestic product, or about $3 billion to $4 billion.
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In downtown Port-au-Prince, where much of the nation's industry was clustered, about 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed. 'Downtown was the lung and heart of the economy of Haiti and now it's completely a ghost town,' said Reginald Boulos, president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. In the days after the earthquake, many businesses saw their stores looted or merchandise lost to fires, he said. Even worse, the administration has failed to articulate a recovery plan. 'We have no idea yet what the government's plans are for downtown,' said Boulos, who lost an auto dealership and grocery stores to the earthquake. 'Not knowing where we are going may be as bad as what happened that day.'
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Wearing jeans and blue Converse sneakers without laces, Boulos was preparing to host some of the nation's top business leaders at his home to try to begin sketching out a recovery plan. Among the ideas are bulldozing downtown Port-au-Prince and providing tax breaks for those willing to set up factories in the long-neglected countryside. 'We have to decentralize,' he said. 'This catastrophe is
an opportunity to create the new Haiti Inc. where every single Haitian is a shareholder.'
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Already the poorest nation in the hemisphere, 80 percent of the population toils under the poverty line. Unemployment before the quake was thought to be as high as 70 percent and Haiti is heavily reliant on imports and remittances to stay afloat. But things had been looking up for the country of 9 million. Kidnappings, which had scared away tourists and investors, were dramatically down.
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Garment exports were booming under a new trade pact. Inflation was under control. 'I really thought this was going to be Haiti's year,' said Norma Powell, the liaison officer for Brasseire Nationale d'Haiti, which runs the nation's biggest bottling plant and brews the country's only beer, Prestige.
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'We were so gung-ho. Tourists were coming back, life was picking up. Now, it's like we crashed and burned.' The quake disrupted the plant's water, milk and beer production lines. Of its 1,450 employees, only about a third have been put back to work. With a little luck, the company hopes to have its factory running at full speed again within two months, she said. As global aid agencies continue to flood the seaport and airport with food and water, it would be easy to believe that Haiti had lost the ability to feed itself.
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While the nation does import food, about 66 percent of workers are involved in agriculture. And unlike the hurricanes that wiped out crops, the earthquake left farms virtually untouched. 'There are goods and services that are being produced locally, but Haitians don't have the money to buy them,' explained Eric Overvest, the country director of the United Nations Development Program. UNDP has started a work-for-cash program, which hopes to inject money into the economy by hiring up to 220,000 people to clear rubble. But the United Nations has not reached out to the private sector yet, and that is a mistake, said Boulus from the chamber of commerce.
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Haiti has water-bottling companies, bakeries and pasta factories, he said, yet aid agencies are flying in many of those products. 'None of these Haitian companies have been used so far to produce things that the international community could have purchased here locally,' he said. Some also fear that the influx of rice, oil and other staples could undercut local farmers.
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Marcus Prior, spokesman for the World Food Program, is sensitive to those concerns and said the rice distribution effort is designed to cover about half the caloric needs of the targeted population. 'We
fully expect people to supplement what we give them with other produce,' he said. 'But we are aware that there may also be an associated drop in food prices with this large scale distribution. But
that will help the people that have been worst affected by the earthquake.'
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Prices may still drop, but a recent stroll through a local market suggested they haven't yet. Vendors said the prices of oil, beans, rice, bread and noodles were increasing, and the price of goods
imported from neighboring Dominican Republic have soared. 'Prices are up at least 30 percent,' said Cherlange Rosius, who buys food wholesale and distributes it to local vendors. And a roll of Dominican salami that cost 15 gourdes, or about 45 cents, before the earthquake cost almost six times that much.
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Responding to the influx of journalists and aid workers, the service sector has also jacked up prices: $4 Coca-Colas are not uncommon, and at hotels too damaged to rent rooms, guests can spend up to $100 a night to pitch tents in the parking lot. The massive inflow of aid dollars has also caused the local currency to spike about 25 percent. It has since retreated, but an overpriced gourde could strangle Haitian exports, which may emerge as one of the bright spots in the post-earthquake economy. There will be other bright spots, too.
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Much of the city needs to be razed and rebuilt, which already has local and foreign companies jockeying for contracts, and scrap and cement-recycling companies are eyeing the mountains of rubble the earthquake generated."

By Liza Casabona
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U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk plans to unveil an initiative today that encourages U.S. apparel brands to work toward manufacturing 1 percent of their total production in Haiti. The Plus One for Haiti program is intended to help lift the industry after last month’s devastating earthquake, people familiar with the matter said.
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Companies that shift their apparel and textile sourcing will be able to take advantage of trade benefits. Duty free apparel benefits were extended to Haiti in 2006 under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, or HOPE, and its successor, HOPE II, in 2008. Under the programs, the country’s apparel manufacturing sector grew.
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Before the earthquake, 28 apparel and textile firms were operating in Haiti. They employed 28,000 workers, according to the Association of Industries of Haiti. The industry in Haiti was a mainstay of the economy, accounting for two-thirds of exports and almost 10 percent of gross domestic product.
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The garment sector is seen as an important tool to help Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Imports from Haiti increased 24.5 percent to $513.3 million in 2009, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel.
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Carol Guthrie, assistant USTR for public and media affairs, said Kirk will make an announcement at the MAGIC marketplace trade show in Las Vegas. The USTR initiative is intended to assist in getting Haitian factories and businesses up and running as quickly as possible. According to estimates, close to 75 percent of the garment industry in Haiti is functioning.
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To oversee the initiative, USTR will also establish a Haiti HOPE task force under Gail Strickler, assistant USTR for textiles. The task force will focus on working with brands, business leaders in Haiti and government officials in both countries to dismantle any remaining roadblocks for Haitian textile and apparel exports.

By JONATHAN M. KATZ
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Jordanie Pinquie Rebeca leans forward and guides a piece of suit-jacket wool and its silky lining into a sewing machine, where - bat! bat! bat! - they're bound together to be hemmed. If she does this for eight hours, she will earn $3.09. Her boss will ship the pinstriped suit she helped make to the United States, tariff-free. There a shopper will buy it from JoS. A. Bank Clothiers for $550.
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In the quest to rebuild Haiti, the international community and business leaders are dusting off a pre-quake plan to expand its low-wage garment assembly industry as a linchpin of recovery. President Barack Obama's administration is on board, encouraging U.S. retailers to obtain from Haiti at least 1 percent of the clothes they sell.
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But will that save a reeling country whose economy must be built from scratch? Few Haitians have steady incomes, and unemployment is unmeasurable; before the quake it was estimated at between 60 and 80 percent. In cities, most scrape by selling in the streets, doing odd jobs or relying on remittances from abroad that make up a quarter of Haiti's $7 billion gross domestic product.
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Garments are central to the economic growth plan commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year, a 19-page report written by Oxford University economics professor Paul Collier and promoted by former President Bill Clinton as special envoy to the impoverished nation.
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They say the sector could quickly produce hundreds of thousands of jobs thanks chiefly to two things: an existing preferential trade deal with the nearby United States, and cheap Haitian labor. The deal is the Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, or "HOPE II." Passed by the U.S. Congress in 2008, it lets Haiti export textiles duty-free to the U.S. for a decade. Last year, $513 million worth of Haitian-made apparel, the bulk of exports, was shipped with labels including Hanes and New Balance. Factory profit margins average about 22 percent, according to Washington-based Nathan Associates Inc.
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The cheap labor is Jordanie Pinquie Rebeca, and others like her. During a recent shift at the South Korean-owned factory where she works six days a week, employees softly sang a Creole hymn beneath the hot fluorescent lights: "Lord, take my hand. Bring me through." It was HOPE II that persuaded the bosses to move their Dominican plant and rename it DKDR Haiti SA. Nearly all the 1,200 people still working there after the quake make the new "outsourcing" minimum wage of 125 gourdes a day, about $3.09 - approximately the same as the minimum wage in 1984 and worth less than half its previous purchasing power.
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Pay was even lower last year when lawmakers raised the country's minimum from $1.72 a day to almost $5 in response to protests. But owners complained, and President Rene Preval refused to enact the law. A compromise allowed non-garment workers to receive the higher minimum, but stuck factory workers with the "outsourcing" wage. DKDR complied but cut production-based incentives, according to general manager Chun Ho Lee. Producing 600 pieces in a day used to yield a worker a bonus of $2.47. Now it's worth $1.23.
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Rebeca, though stylish in her paperboy hat and spaghetti-strap dress, sleeps on the street and barely eats. With a day's pay she can buy a cupful of rice and transport via group taxi, and pay down debt on her now-destroyed apartment. Anything left over goes to cell phone minutes to call her boyfriend, who was evacuated to the Dominican Republic with a leg fracture sustained in the quake, or her 4-year-old son, Mike, whom she sent to live with relatives in the countryside.
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Meanwhile, holding that low-paying job makes it tough to get handouts from relief workers. "The foreigners are giving people food outside, but I can't get anything. I have to stay here working all day," she said. All sides agree that garment-industry wages are too low to feed, clothe and house workers and their families. Even factory owners acknowledge that reality - though they deny running sweatshops and say the businesses have an important role
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"It's not enough to make a decent living, but it's the first step" toward economic recovery, said George Sassine, president of the Association of Industries of Haiti. Others said relying too much on clothing assembly is risky. "The garment sector is creating trouble for the economy because of social tensions and the low wages," said prominent Haitian economist Kesner Pharel.
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Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, himself an economist, said that while the garment industry shouldn't be ignored, increased investment should be sought in more enduring sectors such as agriculture and tourism. Still others fear a return to darker times: Under the brutal Duvalier dictatorships that ended in the mid-1980s, a small elite reaped the profits from facilities that assembled garments, baseballs and toys for sale in the U.S.
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Last month's earthquake cracked the metal-roofed DKDR building's walls and prompted a costly, two-week shutdown. Another company's factory, west of the capital in Carrefour, collapsed entirely, killing at least 300 workers. But garment industry production has already rebounded to 80 or 90 percent of capacity, and the boosters' enthusiasm is unshaken. In a recent opinion piece published in The New York Times, Collier likened the moment to the opening of the American West: "The earthquake could usher in such a boom in Haiti."
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There are currently 25,000 garment jobs, three-quarters less than there were 20 years ago. Most are in the same industrial park where DKDR's plant is located. Owners want to expand to two new sites outside Port-au-Prince in line with government wishes to reduce pressure in the debris-choked capital where most of the 200,000 quake victims died. At an October investors conference, Clinton laid out a vision for Haiti's economy in which garments play a central role: "The rich will get richer, but there will be a much, much bigger middle class, with poor people pouring into it at a rapid rate." For Haitians like Rebeca, who is unable to find other work, the chances of making that leap seem dim. "We're just fighting to survive," she said, sewing.

Reuters
By Pascal Fletcher
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U.S. government insurer and lender OPIC is supporting U.S. private relief organizations working in quake-hit Haiti and will back U.S. companies that invest in the Caribbean country's reconstruction, an OPIC official said on Tuesday. "We see a lot of opportunity in the reconstruction," said Suzanne Etcheverry, manager for insurance at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government agency that provides project financing and political risk insurance cover for U.S. investors in developing countries.
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"We are looking at supporting infrastructure, as well as rebuilding shelter, schools, roads, helping the energy sector, deploying assets to do all this, supporting U.S. companies that are putting their own equity at risk," Etcheverry told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on Haiti's reconstruction in Miami. Following the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake that shattered the capital and other towns in the Western Hemisphere's poorest state, Haiti's government and its foreign aid partners are now turning their attention from emergency humanitarian relief to recovery and rebuilding strategies.
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Up to 300,000 people may have been killed in the quake, Haiti's President Rene Preval has said, and some experts have called it the deadliest natural disaster of modern times. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already poured into Haiti in the form of emergency aid provided by governments, multilateral lenders and nongovernmental organizations, but private companies are now scenting lucrative business opportunities in areas like rubble removal and the rebuilding of housing and infrastructure.
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Etcheverry said OPIC could help provide a more secure investment framework for U.S. companies looking to find business in Haiti's reconstruction.
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"We can do a lot, provided that there is U.S. investment that is willing to take the risk and go there," she said. Etcheverry said OPIC's existing exposure in Haiti before the quake was small -- nearly $23 million in insurance support for three projects -- but was expected to rise.
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"We are very willing to increase our exposure there for projects that are eligible," she said. Since the quake, OPIC had opened up a $50 million special line of credit, as well as direct loans and discounted political risk insurance, for U.S. NGOs working on disaster relief in Haiti. This was intended to support such groups as they deployed assets, vehicles and construction equipment on the ground.
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In addition, the agency was extending a $10 million loan to a Miami Beach, Florida-based company, InnoVida Holdings, LLC, to build fiber composite panels that would be used to construct 32,000 energy-efficient homes in Haiti in the next five years.
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"We turned that around very, very quickly, which demonstrates how committed we are to doing work in Haiti," said Etcheverry. Experts predict rebuilding of housing could account for as much as 60 percent of the overall Haiti reconstruction effort.
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Etcheverry said OPIC was ready to support investment in the long-term rebuilding of the country, as well as underwriting more immediate humanitarian operations. Telecommunications and energy would be other possible areas of investment for U.S. companies, she added. Under OPIC's statutes, however, the agency could not back investment projects that might have a negative impact on the U.S. economy and jobs -- specifically in the Haitian apparel sector, which benefits from the United States' Hope II Act that gives such textile exports preferential access to the United States.
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Etcheverry was clear, however, that U.S. investors in Haiti's reconstruction could face risks. "I think the risks are political instability, unrest that can result from a general breakdown of living structures, basic infrastructure, basic security. I think that's a real risk in any situation where something as catastrophic (as this) has happened," she said. But she added: "I hope we can play a role in making investors more comfortable in going into these kinds of situations."
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Analysts and aid workers say they fear delays in providing humanitarian aid and longer-term shelter and employment for hundreds of thousands of Haitians left homeless and jobless by the earthquake could spark unrest in the poor nation which has a history of political instability and conflict.
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(Editing by Leslie Adler)

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, received board approval for a $35 million emergency investment program to help private companies restart operations and preserve and create jobs in Haiti, in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck the country in January.
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"IFC's emergency program aims to help rebuild Haiti's private sector companies and to support their role in the recovery process by creating or saving thousands of jobs," said IFC's CEO and Executive Vice President Lars Thunell. "Support for the private sector is needed so that companies can rebuild infrastructure, provide goods and services, and provide financing for small businesses."
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IFC is responding quickly as part of the World Bank Group's comprehensive approach to support Haiti. In a meeting today in Washington D.C. with Haitian President René Preval, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of life from January's earthquake and pledged the World Bank Group's continued support for government-led efforts to reconstruct the country.
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IFC's program would finance six companies in key sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure, agribusiness and financial services. With a focus on creating jobs, IFC aims to help these companies get back to business, preserve their employees' livelihoods, and reestablish critical supplies and services to their communities. Support for each company is capped at $10 million.
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IFC is also responding through its advisory services program to help companies and government agencies expand Haiti's special economic zones and improve regulations to retain and attract investors. This will ensure that the fast-growing garment sector can continue benefiting from the HOPE II Act that encourages exports to the United States.
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This emergency program is a first step in IFC support for Haiti. It will be followed by additional investments for long-term financing in infrastructure and other key sectors, as well as an expansion of IFC advisory services. IFC provides financing and advisory services, as well as leverages donor support for Haiti's private sector to accelerate economic growth and improve access to basic services, particularly for the most vulnerable groups. Since 2006, IFC has committed $65 million in investment projects in the country. IFC has ramped up activities in Haiti in the past three years and established a full-time presence in the country in 2007.
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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

Reuters
By Pascal Fletcher
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Rebuilding Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake should generate major contracts for private companies specializing in construction, logistics, transport and security, but U.S. executives say they need a clear reconstruction strategy to shape their business plans. Private sector firms that focus on post-conflict or disaster relief operations gathered at a meeting in Miami this week to consider the business opportunities offered by Haiti's recovery from the Jan. 12 quake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns.
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With Haiti's government saying up to 300,000 people may have died, some economists are calling the Haitian quake the deadliest natural disaster in modern times. Relief experts and business leaders agree the mammoth task of rebuilding what was already the Western Hemisphere's poorest state will be impossible without private sector participation.
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"I don't think they have any option but to get private companies in to help reconstruct Haiti," Kevin Lumb, CEO of London-based Global Investment Summits Ltd, which organized the Haiti Reconstruction meeting in Miami, told Reuters.
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"I think it opens up a great deal of business opportunities. Most of their infrastructure is destroyed, their roads, communications, buildings, it's obviously affected water supply, electricity, so that all needs rebuilding," Lumb said. The Miami summit was also organized by the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group of companies working in conflict, post-conflict and disaster zones.
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IPOA President Doug Brooks cited $13 billion to $14 billion as estimates of the scale of damage inflicted by the Haitian quake, which could provide some measure of the business opportunities created by the reconstruction effort. Brooks called the Miami meeting a "nuts and bolts conference" bringing together service providers, major humanitarian groups and other stakeholders in Haiti's rebuilding. The aim was to fit needs to potential contract opportunities ahead of an international donors' conference for Haiti scheduled for March 31 in New York.
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"When the policies come down and the money starts flowing for the reconstruction, we'll be ready to go," Brooks said. Companies looking for business at the Haiti reconstruction meeting included Georgia-based Harbor Homes LLC, which offers self-assembled PermaShelter houses for those left homeless by the quake, and Virginia-based Agility Logistics, which already supplies food rations to U.N. peacekeeping troops in Somalia.
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More than one million Haitians were left homeless and displaced by the January quake and Harbor Homes' Richard Rivette said his company could provide easily assembled, storm- and quake-resistant galvanized steel homes to create the new villages expected to be set up outside of Port-au-Prince. But he and other executives at the Miami meeting said they needed to have from the Haitian government and its relief partners a clearer idea of the planned rebuilding strategy.
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"Without a master plan, it's hard to cost estimate it," said Rivette. "I think everyone's looking for the direction, where's it going to go, how's it going to work," said Agility Logistics' Thomas Shortley, who runs the firm's business with the United Nations.
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Other speakers said any survivors' resettlement or relocation program could be bedeviled by land ownership issues. "Land rights are the elephant in the room," said Ian Ridley of World Vision International, an aid group. Weather forecasters are already predicting a more active than normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2010 and storm-swept Haiti could face a fresh humanitarian disaster if the hundreds of thousands of quake homeless are not under adequate shelter by the time the season starts on June 1.
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Political analysts and aid workers say that social unrest -- a feature of the cycle of poverty, corruption and violence that has dogged Haiti for decades -- is a also major risk if employment and shelter solutions are not found quickly.
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"It will not take long before some kind of civil unrest occurs," said Derell Griffith of Sabre International, a security company, referring to quake survivors' impatience over delays in relief efforts.
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Present too at the Miami meeting was the U.S. government insurer and lender Overseas Private Investment Corporation. "Haiti has become a very strong priority for the U.S. government right now," said OPIC'S Suzanne Etcheverry.
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U.S. President Barack Obama met his Haitian counterpart Rene Preval in Washington on Wednesday, and said many Haitians were still in desperate need of shelter, food, and medicine. "The situation on the ground remains dire," Obama said. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington, Editing by Jackie Frank)

Reuters
By Pascal Fletcher
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Rebuilding Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake should generate major contracts for private companies specializing in construction, logistics, transport and security, but US executives say they need a clear reconstruction strategy to shape their business plans. Private sector firms that focus on post-conflict or disaster relief operations gathered at a meeting in Miami this week to consider the business opportunities offered by Haiti's recovery from the January 12 quake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns.
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With Haiti's government saying up to 300,000 people may have died, some economists are calling the Haitian quake the deadliest natural disaster in modern times. Relief experts and business leaders agree the mammoth task of rebuilding what was already the Western Hemisphere's poorest state will be impossible without private sector participation.
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"I don't think they have any option but to get private companies in to help reconstruct Haiti," Kevin Lumb, CEO of London-based Global Investment Summits Ltd, which organized the Haiti Reconstruction meeting in Miami, told Reuters.
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"I think it opens up a great deal of business opportunities. Most of their infrastructure is destroyed, their roads, communications, buildings, it's obviously affected water supply, electricity, so that all needs rebuilding," Lumb said. The Miami summit was also organized by the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group of companies working in conflict, post-conflict and disaster zones. IPOA President Doug Brooks cited $13 billion to $14 billion as estimates of the scale of damage inflicted by the Haitian quake, which could provide some measure of the business opportunities created by the reconstruction effort.
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Brooks called the Miami meeting a "nuts and bolts conference" bringing together service providers, major humanitarian groups and other stakeholders in Haiti's rebuilding. The aim was to fit needs to potential contract opportunities ahead of an international donors' conference for Haiti scheduled for March 31 in New York. "When the policies come down and the money starts flowing for the reconstruction, we'll be ready to go," Brooks said.
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Companies looking for business at the Haiti reconstruction meeting included Georgia-based Harbor Homes LLC, which offers self-assembled PermaShelter houses for those left homeless by the quake, and Virginia-based Agility Logistics, which already supplies food rations to U.N. peacekeeping troops in Somalia. More than one million Haitians were left homeless and displaced by the January quake and Harbor Homes' Richard Rivette said his company could provide easily assembled, storm- and quake-resistant galvanized steel homes to create the new villages expected to be set up outside of Port-au-Prince.
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But he and other executives at the Miami meeting said they needed to have from the Haitian government and its relief partners a clearer idea of the planned rebuilding strategy. "Without a master plan, it's hard to cost estimate it," said Rivette.
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"I think everyone's looking for the direction, where's it going to go, how's it going to work," said Agility Logistics' Thomas Shortley, who runs the firm's business with the United Nations. Other speakers said any survivors' resettlement or relocation program could be bedeviled by land ownership issues. "Land rights are the elephant in the room," said Ian Ridley of World Vision International, an aid group.
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Weather forecasters are already predicting a more active than normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2010 and storm-swept Haiti could face a fresh humanitarian disaster if the hundreds of thousands of quake homeless are not under adequate shelter by the time the season starts on June 1. Political analysts and aid workers say that social unrest -- a feature of the cycle of poverty, corruption and violence that has dogged Haiti for decades -- is a also major risk if employment and shelter solutions are not found quickly.
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"It will not take long before some kind of civil unrest occurs," said Derell Griffith of Sabre International, a security company, referring to quake survivors' impatience over delays in relief efforts. Present too at the Miami meeting was the US government insurer and lender Overseas Private Investment Corporation. "Haiti has become a very strong priority for the US government right now," said OPIC'S Suzanne Etcheverry.
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President Barack Obama met his Haitian counterpart Rene Preval in Washington on Wednesday, and said many Haitians were still in desperate need of shelter, food, and medicine. "The situation on the ground remains dire," Obama said.

IDB
3/16/2010
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Haitian government authorities and private sector leaders reached broad agreements on proposals to foster local and foreign investments and to modernize Haiti's economy in the wake of the January 12 earthquake. At a consultation meeting held Monday with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, Haitian public and private sector representatives agreed on the need to set appropriate conditions to revitalize key economic sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, housing, education and tourism.
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The meeting held at a hotel north of Port-au-Prince was part of a broader process to reach out to different sectors of Haitian society to seek consensus on a national reconstruction and development plan to be presented at an international donors meeting in New York on March 31. In his words of welcome, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive commended the local private sector for its support and thanked international agencies and foreign investors for their interest in backing Haiti's recovery.
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Bellerive underscored that a significant part of the resources that will be required to rebuild and modernize the Haitian economy will have to come from private investment, from both local and foreign firms.
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Reginald Boulos, coordinator of the Haitian Private Sector Forum, noted that the emergency caused by the earthquake had led the Haitian business community to overcome past divisions and rally for national recovery.
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Boulos said the Haitian private sector was committed to a vision of a modern, prosperous and inclusive Haiti, with a dynamic economy, a growing middle class, businesses that create jobs and pay taxes, and an efficient public sector.
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IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno underscored the importance of holding such a meeting in Haiti in order to send a clear message to the rest of the world that Haitians are ready to take on the "monumental task" of rebuilding their country.
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Besides leaders from Haitian business associations, chambers of commerce and sector groups, the meeting was also attended by foreign business people, including a large delegation of executives from the neighboring Dominican Republic, and by delegates from various international agencies active in Haiti.
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After the opening ceremony, during which leading businessman Gregory Brandt presented a detailed analysis of the challenges Haiti faces in becoming more competitive, participants joined several workshops to discuss specific problems of the country's key economic sectors and propose solutions.
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During the workshops, which were moderated by Haitian officials, participants found issues common to different sectors, such as the need to achieve greater synergies between the public and private sectors, the urgency of improving the business climate and the country's infrastructure, the advantages of decentralizing economic activity traditionally concentrated in Port-au-Prince and the importance of protecting investor rights.
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According to participants of various panels, if Haiti created appropriate conditions for private investment in key sectors, its economy could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, boost its competitiveness and begin to overcome a historic legacy of poverty and inequality. In closing, Haitian Finance Minister Roland Baudin said the private sector proposals to revitalize the national economy would be taken into consideration in the plan the Haitian government will take to the donors' conference in New York.
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Baudin, who agreed with the need to make legal and regulatory reforms to set correct incentives for private sector investment, urged Haitian business people to prioritize investments in the country's interior to support decentralization and generate more jobs beyond the capital city.
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In his closing remarks, IDB Vice President for the Private Sector Steven Puig reiterated the Bank's commitment to continue working in priority sectors for Haiti's development, as well as on catalyzing more private investments in Haiti.

By JOSEPH A. MANN JR.
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Haiti's WIN Group and Miami-based Santé Holding Corp. on Tuesday announced a $70 million project to redevelop Terminal Varreux, Haiti's largest privately-owned shipping terminal and port facility.
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This initiative, the largest private sector investment made public in Haiti since January's earthquake, will support relief efforts and lay the foundation for the modernization of the country's shipping industry, said Youri Mevs, managing partner of the WIN Group, a family-owned conglomerate.
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WIN Group owns and operates Terminal Varreux, about two miles north of Port-au-Prince's main public port. The plan includes a new port and jetties, a 150-acre terminal open to all maritime lines, improvements in existing infrastructure plus additional facilities. Using private funding, the project is expected to create about 3,000 jobs in Haiti. ``People really needed to see a project like this to know that there is a better future for Haiti,'' Mevs said in a telephone interview. ``We import almost everything we use and a healthy port system has an impact on every segment of society. If Haiti wants to enter this century, we must have structures that work and that can deliver results.''
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The first step in the three-to-five-year project involves building two deep-water jetties for container cargo at a cost of between $20 million and $25 million. Construction on this stage will begin in about 60 days and will generate about 800 jobs, Mevs said. The jetties should be operating by this summer, she added. ``The creation of new port facilities will greatly increase the capacity of Port-au-Prince to accommodate ongoing demand for relief and recovery cargo into Haiti,'' Bruno E. Ramos, chairman and chief executive of Santé Holding, a marine transportation company based in Florida, said in a news release.
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The holding company owns and operates Santé Shipping Lines, which offers direct container service from the Miami River to ports in northern Haiti. Santé Holding is partnering with the Rovirosa family, operators of terminals at the Port of Miami and Port Everglades, for the project. They will develop, manage, and operate the new container facility at Varreux. Terminal Varreux now has multiple berths connected to pipelines carrying liquid and dry bulk materials. It was damaged during January's earthquake but was repaired in order to handle fuel imports. The terminal receives and stores about 70 percent of the petroleum used in Haiti.
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Under the agreement announced Tuesday, WIN Group will retain control of the dry bulk, liquid bulk, and petroleum operations at Terminal Varreux, while the new facilities will be operated by the new joint venture. WIN Group and the Soros Economic Development Fund last year announced a $45 million program to develop an industrial park near Port-au-Prince's Cité Soleil neighborhood. The project has been halted temporarily due to the earthquake.

3/22/2010
The Miami Herald
BY JOSEPH A. MANN JR.
ma9jose@aol.com
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``Who goes into the shipping business these days -- in a recession?'' asked Charles Towsley, former director of the Port of Miami. Towsley, who now serves as president of Santé Shipping Lines, a small Miami-based cargo carrier, did exactly that.
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``I always felt like Warren Buffet. He said, `The time to get interested is when no one else is.' '' Towsley and Bruno E. Ramos, an architect specializing in the maritime and cruise industries, decided to get into the cargo business in 2009.
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Using private capital, they set up Santé Shipping, with Ramos as chief executive and principal and Towsley as president. David Cardozo, who has worked extensively in the marine sector in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, became the chief operating officer. The company, owned by Santé Holding Corp., bought a used container ship, refurbished it and renamed it Santé Manna. (Ramos and two Miami-based partners are the shareholders of the parent company.)
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Santé is French from ``To your health!'' and the vessel takes its name from the Old Testament's ``manna from heaven.'' The 271-foot Santé Manna is small enough to navigate the narrow Miami River and can carry up to 181 TEUs (a TEU is a cargo capacity measurement equivalent to a 20-foot container). Today, Santé Manna is playing an important role in keeping Haiti's northern cities supplied.
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The ship initiated direct container service to Cap Haitien, the country's second largest city, and Gonaives last November, sailing from the Miami River. Loaded with water, medical supplies, tents, vehicles and construction equipment, the Santé Manna sails every two weeks and provides the first direct container service to these ports, Towsley noted.
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Due to the demand for relief supplies and other equipment, Santé Manna is filled to capacity on each trip to Haiti. ``There is so much demand we unfortunately have to leave some cargo behind,'' Towsley said. On the return trip, however, the vessel is empty. Dozens of cargo shippers drop off freight for Santé, and customers range from such aid agencies as Food for the Poor and the William J. Clinton Foundation to private companies and Haitians sending packages of food and personal items to friends and family.
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``We have the advantage of being able to ship containers full of goods and to help people who want to send a bundle of goods to family members,'' Towsley said. ``Our original idea was to serve niche markets in the Caribbean, but we decided to focus on Haiti and we started with the two northern ports,'' he added.
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The Santé executives saw that most cargo entered Haiti through Port-au-Prince, and shipments destined for cities outside the capital had to be moved by truck -- an expensive and time-consuming process. They also saw that there was unsatisfied demand for container cargo at other Haitian ports even before the January earthquake. Santé Manna was the first cargo vessel to arrive in Haiti with relief supplies after the Jan. 12 earthquake, Towsley said. The quake shut down Port-au-Prince but the ship was able to unload in Cap Haitien and Gonaives since the ports were not damaged, he added.
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To increase cargo capacity to Haiti, the company is rebuilding a seagoing barge that is expected to be ready by the end of March. Pulled by a tugboat, the barge will carry additional containers from Miami into smaller ports in Haiti. Santé Shipping is also studying the acquisition of additional barges to further expand its reach in Haiti. In addition, the shipping line is planning to acquire refrigerated containers to carry perishable food items.
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Food for the Poor, one of Santé's biggest customers before and after the earthquake, stressed the importance of sending relief supplies and equipment directly to cities outside the Haitian capital.
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``Santé started up just a month and a half before the earthquake,'' said Artie Gold, shipping director of Food for the Poor, an international relief and development charity. ``They were in the right place at the right time. ``Ships going to Cap Haitien [after the earthquake] were limited, and Santé was in a position to take our cargo. We work with several lines but we had so much cargo coming in, and there weren't that many avenues to get it into Haiti. Basically, we were feeding Haiti through Cap Haitien.''

The Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce
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The forum for continued engagement and dialogue on Haiti progress and development
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The “Promise of Haiti” is a vision of the former French jewel of 200 of years ago, once the world’s wealthiest colony. Wealth built based on slave labor which consistently turned out generous bounties of sugar, rum, rice, coffee and cacao among other goods; - And the subsequent fight for independence gained through a slave revolt in 1804.
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The “Promise of Haiti” is also Haiti’s unfinished plight towards economic independence and self-sufficiency, the need for dialogue, inclusive engagement and the importance of the ever present partnership between the International Community, Haiti and the newly arrived players on the scene, - the Haitian Diaspora.
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Haitian-Americans hope the US Government is finally listening The representatives of our US Government, Haiti’s 10,000 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and potential investors should remember that Haiti indeed holds great potential and even greater opportunities, - as well as undeniable responsibility for those that would be financing Haiti’s rebuilding/reconstruction efforts and for those who would benefit economically from its plight.
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Haiti represents great economic opportunities
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In spite of the challenges Haiti consistently faced over the recent past, Haiti is has the second lowest crime rate in the whole Caribbean, represents 58 % of the CARICOM markets and needs practically everything.
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Haiti does not have to be a consistent victim
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The post- January 12th earthquake highlighted Haiti’s unenviable place as the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere. The fact that Haiti now imports 80 % of its food, even though 70% of its labor force works directly in the agricultural sector, that 50% of Haiti’s annual trade deficit stemmed from imports of sugar, rice and poultry/egg and yet represent foods that Haiti can grow itself.
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The sugar, rice and poultry/egg industries have seen the direct loss of 891,000 jobs as a result of Trade Programs implemented 20 years, - yet still have existing, viable and operational mills and companies merely in need of investments for capacity expansion and optimization. These industries and actual existing companies can contribute towards food security, job creation and introduce affordable and accessible green energy/electricity.
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Haiti has second lowest crime rate in the whole Caribbean
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In the City of Léogâne, warehouses used to overflow with bags of coffee and cotton and beans for local distribution and exports. Trains of sugar cane used to pass through plantations en route to the HASCO, the then sugar processing plant located in Port-au-Prince, - now closed for some 20 years. And this all actually happened a mere 30 years ago.
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“The Promise of Haiti” is about Private Sector Development, Investments and Initiative
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Haiti does not have to be, nor remain a welfare state. That Haiti, - with aid and remittances, the right political will, financial and technical assistance, Haiti could successfully become a viable and self-sustaining economy again. The Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Haitian-Americans present an alternative option other than the one implemented for the past 20 years by Haiti’s international actors, for which Haiti can show nothing.
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“The Haiti Private Sector Program"
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The “Promise of Haiti” reiterates long-term Haitian economic success tied to the creation of partnerships between viable financing partners and responsible investors willing to develop inclusive business models that are simultaneously profitable businesses and businesses able to benefit all parts of the value chain. The implementation of a Haiti Private Sector Initiative to include Small and Medium Business Enterprise (SME) Program is a direct response to nearly non-existent financing/credit, lack of investment funds, and limited small/medium business entrepreneurial development, the traditional backbone of a viable economy.
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A Haiti Private Sector Program will encourage INNOVATION and OPEN COMPETITION to benefit the overall Haitian economy. For example, such a program will contribute to job creation resulting in local market expansion. The Program will capitalize viable business operations negatively affected by the earthquake to allow [businesses] to reopen and to rehire, while also providing credit/financing to contribute to capacity expansion, encourage New Business Investments and long-term Economic Self-Sufficiency. The Program should also recognize that genuine Haitian Economic Recovery includes a focus on:
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1) Public-Private Partnerships (or PPP's)
2) Agricultural Development
3) Renewable Energy Development (to include agricultural/energy nexus)
4) Rebuilding/Reconstruction post-earthquake
5) Security and Health (not addressed in this paper)
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Blue-Print Solutions: The Haiti Private Sector Program to JUMP-Start the Haitian Economy
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1) Fast-track Project Financing/capitalization of foreign investments in Haitian and of viable local companies
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2) Facilitation of U.S. and foreign business [investment] establishment in Haiti
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3) Provision of adequate and affordable credit towards capacity expansion for local companies
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4) To streamline International (IDB, OPIC, IFC, EXIM, etc…) loan application to funds disbursement process from the current average of 8 months to 30 - 60 days in partnership with local Haitian Banks.
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5) To adopt/adapt and to implement the example of the Export/Import Bank’s successful partnership with HSBC Wells Fargo outsourcing strategy to Haiti.
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6) To work with on-the-Ground US and Haiti firms towards Reconstruction/Rebuilding Haiti in partnership with the Government of Haiti (GOH).
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7) To assist the GOH to address, streamline and fix the bureaucratic challenges detrimental and discouraging to foreign investments in Haiti
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The Program should consider specific solutions, interests and/or projects for Fast-Track Implementation to meet Haiti’s immediate needs; And to allow the necessary timeframe needed towards the adequate design, planning and implementation for medium to long term economic solutions that will best benefit Haiti as a whole.
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To jump-start the Haitian economy, the Program should prioritize enterprises with existing assets and sustainable economic activities to leverage for expeditious return on investment. Loan beneficiaries will contribute towards a synchronized expansion of local market oriented activities. The result will gain economies of scale and synergy by combining all value chain to support Haiti's market activities
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The Haiti Private Sector Program should be implemented immediately. Priorities should be afforded to Agricultural/Reforestation/Conservation, Rebuilding/Reconstruction to include Infrastructure and Renewable Energy sectors to create the foundation towards the building of a healthy economy, with optimum opportunities to create jobs, contribute to food and energy security, to redress the dismal state of the environment and to simultaneously raise the standard of living and encourage foreign investments.
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The Private Sector Initiative will serve to implement long-term economic development and build on existing stability established by President Preval with the contribution of NGOs. The suggested solutions fit together or can be applied independently to pave the way towards a diversified economy and economic self-sufficiency.

Reuters
By Pascal Fletcher
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Earthquake-stricken Haiti's telecoms market could double in size in five years if a donor-backed reconstruction effort successfully multiplies jobs and wealth, an executive of the nation's largest mobile phone operator said on Tuesday. Maarten Boute, CEO of Digicel Haiti, part of the Digicel Group, said overseas investors would be closely watching a conference of donors in New York on Wednesday that will commit funds to Haiti's recovery after the devastating Jan. 12 quake.
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Digicel Group is the largest foreign investor in the Caribbean nation. The United Nations-organized meeting is due to back a plan for Haiti's long-term rebuilding that foresees billions of dollars of donor financing to repair and renew Haiti's quake-shattered infrastructure and other business sectors.
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Boute said Irish-owned Digicel, which since its entry into Haiti in 2006 has brought mobile phones to the poorer masses there, was well positioned to improve on its leading local market share, and to exploit opportunities in Broadband Internet and mobile financial services. Galvanized by Digicel's lower-priced marketing strategy, Haiti's mobile phone users increased in just over three years to 3.5 million from around 600,000. Digicel was the market leader with over 2 million customers.
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But mobile penetration, at 37 percent, remained very low for the Western Hemisphere, leaving lots of room for telecoms expansion, provided the post-quake donor-funded reconstruction had a real impact on people's income and buying power. "If all that money comes in, if jobs are created, yes, there would be more users. That would double the market in five years," Boute said. But he stressed this would depend on the successful delivery and implementation of the reconstruction financing and strategy to be agreed at the donors conference in New York.
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"In the past, a lot of money has been committed to Haiti, but there have been problems spending it," Boute added. Haiti's government and international development partners are hoping that massive donor financing for a viable recovery plan can haul the country out of its poverty trap and set it on a path of economic self-sufficiency and growth.
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Boute stressed the reconstruction should also bring in the private sector by solving bottlenecks and problems, such as land and property issues and past government inability to fully and effectively absorb large-scale aid funds. "We need large private investors coming in behind," he said, recalling that Haiti was the largest market in the Caribbean outside of communist-ruled Cuba.
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Competitors in the Haitian market comprised Comcel, a subsidiary of Bellevue, Washington-based Trilogy International Partners LLC, which operates the Voila mobile service, and HaiTel, owned by a Haitian businessman. Vietnamese military-run company Viettel was also entering the Haitian market, having obtained a contract for fixed line services and other licenses.
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Boute said telecoms operators in the country were lobbying the Haitian government to offer more spectrum range for additional expansion. He also saw the need for a modern fiber optic axle to span the national territory to support wireless technology, a project he said could be funded by big multilateral lenders like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
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In its position as the biggest foreign investor in Haiti, Digicel was also the country's largest single taxpayer, Boute said. The local telecoms sector as a whole accounted for a quarter of Haiti's annual national tax revenues. Boute said next year Digicel would be paying more than $30 million in taxes, adding the company's overall tax contribution was increasing as income tax obligations came into effect.
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Digicel, owned by Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, was a leading employer in Haiti, providing around 1,000 direct jobs, but as many as 25,000 more indirectly, for example through vendors of top-up cards for mobile phones. After the Jan. 12 earthquake, the company donated some $20 million to relief efforts for quake victims, including $5 in free credit to each of its two million customers.
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It was also spending $3 million to deliver around 20,000 tents to homeless survivors of the earthquake, helping to rebuild 50 schools and supporting a project to repair and renovate the damaged 19th century Iron Market in Port-au-Prince, a well-known historic landmark.

Business Week
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Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush want to increase Haiti's clothing exports to the United States. They are uring Congress to boost the tariff-free quota from 70 million to 250 million square meters and extend an existing deal's expiration from 2018 to 2025.
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In a letter to Democratic and Republican leaders and provided to The Associated Press, the former presidents say the expansion would provide thousands of jobs for Haitians and help U.S. cotton exporters. But textile workers in Haiti say the $3.09 a day they earn is not enough to feed their families. Clinton is U.N. special envoy to Haiti. Bush visited Haiti with him last month.

4/27/2010
Miami Herald
By NADEGE CHARLES
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Like many local business owners, Cauvin Bayard wants a shot at work rebuilding earthquake-ravaged Haiti. But he says understanding the process of getting a government contract is dumbfounding. ``There are going to be homes and offices built; if there's going to be a contract, we should know how to get it,'' said Bayard, a Haiti-born electrician with a business in Hollywood.
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Bayard was one of several hundred people -- including business owners and representatives of nonprofit organizations -- who turned out Monday morning to hear tips on how to secure grants and contracts with The U.S. Agency for International Development, an organization responsible for coordinating Haiti relief and recovery efforts in the United States.
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The informational session, hosted by U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, took place in a crowded auditorium at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus. With schools, roads and much of Haiti's infrastructure in ruins or disrepair, post-quake recovery plans have become an attractive business opportunity for some. Representatives from USAID said they wanted to help to demystify the process. ``It's not just having an idea and you expect someone to fund it. It just doesn't work that way,'' said Gary Juste, deputy director of the USAID office of acquisition and assistance.
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Juste said potential applicants need to complete detailed proposals explaining the scope of their services, as well as proposed budgets. It also helps to plan a trip to Haiti to get an accurate picture of the country's needs -- and to help business owners determine if their services would target the right neighborhoods and people. The agency is in the process of seeking supplemental emergency funds to offset expenses in Haiti. If Congress approves the $1.6 billion budget, roughly $800 million will go toward new contracts and grants.
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According to Phil Gary, a senior foreign service officer for USAID, the bulk of the new money will be used to replenish emergency food and medical stocks that were used immediately after the quake. Members of South Florida's Haitian diaspora are especially poised to benefit from the program -- and, in turn, help their homeland, said Meek -- because of their language skills and existing ties to Haiti.
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Todd Gainey, vice president of Gonave Island Development, said he hopes to secure a contract for a project he started 12 years ago. Gainey said he leased 60,000 acres on the island of La Gonave to plant and harvest Jatropha, an indigenous plant, for biodiesel fuel. He attended the FIU session to find out how to secure government funding.
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``It's been a very difficult project to get off the ground,'' said Gainey, whose business partner is the former mayor of La Gonave. For Carline Paul, who runs a nonprofit youth program in North Miami and has never contracted with the government, it's not clear how smaller organizations will be afforded equal opportunities in such a crowded market. She complained that very few local agencies are equippedto help answer questionsor complete the application.
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``What's really missing is a centralized location to disseminate all of this information and to help walk us through this process,'' she said.

4/27/2010
VOA
By Jeff Swicord
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Prior to the January earthquake that devastated Haiti, textile manufacturing accounted for three-quarters of the country's export earnings. The sector employed more than 25,000 people. After the quake, estimates suggest the industry is operating at about 50 percent capacity. If U.S. companies begin manufacturing in Haiti, experts say the industry there could support 100,000 jobs.
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John Park is manager of the Astro Embroidery company in Port au Prince. The company is based in the Caribbean. In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a law, commonly known as Hope II, granting duty-free access for Haitian textiles. Astro Embroidery, which owns factories in Honduras, moved quickly to start operations in Haiti. "First of all, we come here to Haiti because HOPE regulation passed in Congress, USA. And we expected a lot of textile company come to Haiti," Park said. "And then we [are] coming here to prepare service for them."
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Two years later, most of his machines are silent. Only four employees are still working. "If we have 100 percent productivity, there will be 70 to 80 employees can be here," Park said. Is Haiti stable enough to take on such a business venture?
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The American apparel manufacturers have not come. He says they fear Haiti is not stable enough for business. Stephen Lamar is executive vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. He says U.S. apparel firms are interested in manufacturing in Haiti but are reluctant because current legislation, including The Caribbean Basin Initiative, is short term and the volume of goods allowed into the U.S. is too low.
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"What you have right now is people are placing orders on the hope, no pun intended, on the hope that we are going to have the Caribbean Basin Trade Act extended," Lamar said. "Now, it has been extended a couple of times before, but that is no guarantee that it will be extended." But hope is on the horizon. When former President Bill Clinton visited Port au Prince in March he promised to pressure Congress to extend the trade laws and raise the ceiling on duty-free imports. "So we pledged to do what we could to get the changes adopted by Congress that will enable you to make maximum use of this law. And I think it could create a 100,000 jobs in Haiti in short order," he stated.
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For John Park, the extensions will not come soon enough. He says the company had to dip into savings to stay afloat. "We need help. But so far we are okay. We can survive," he said. "But I am really concerned now. One more year if we don't have enough work, we could be out of business."
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Some question whether textile jobs are the best option for Haitian workers. Haiti's minimum wage is about $3 (US) a day. Astro Embroidery pays its employees a salary and bonus equal to about $6 (US) a day. But garment worker Fifi Rico told us that is not a living wage. "Because what they get is enough for them to eat. They don't have enough to pay for housing," he said. The American Apparel And Footwear Association told us the industry has strong interest in helping to rebuild Haiti. Lamar says work has begun on Capitol Hill to extend both trade acts.

Reuters
By Doug Palmer
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Top U.S. lawmakers said on Wednesday they have reached a bipartisan deal to help Haiti rebuild its earthquake-shattered economy by opening the U.S. market to more Haitian clothing and textiles.
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"Today's legislation responds to the clear call to action Americans heard in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti," Democratic U.S. Representative Sander Levin, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
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The deal was reached by the top Democrats and Republicans on two key committees in the House and Senate, boosting the bill's chances of passage. The clothing sector accounted for about 75 percent of Haiti's exports and employed more than 25,000 Haitians before the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people in the Caribbean nation. "The Haitian garment sector, Haiti's flagship industry, was making important strides prior to the earthquake and helping the country's economy establish a stable foothold. With this legislation, we will help to get the garment sector and Haiti's economy back on that critical trajectory," said Representative Charles Rangel, the former Ways and Means Committee chairman.
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The Obama administration has urged U.S. clothing retailers to source at least 1 percent of their clothing from Haiti. Haiti is the 17th largest supplier of clothing to the United States. It exported more than $513 million worth of clothing to the United States in 2009, up almost 25 percent from 2008. Most of the clothing that Haiti sells in the United States comes in duty free under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and a separate program for Haiti known as the Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Act (HOPE).
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The legislation also would extend both the HOPE and the CBTPA programs through September 2020 to give investors confidence that the benefits will remain on the books long enough to justify spending money to help Haiti rebuild. "This bill is a common-sense approach with support from both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate, and I urge my colleagues to work with us to quickly pass this legislation," Democratic Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said.
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The bill was crafted to address "the concerns that have been expressed by the U.S. textile industry with respect to both domestic and regional production of textiles and apparel," Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said. It would give Haiti "meaningful" new access to the U.S. clothing market and would build on earlier U.S. legislation that sped up tax benefits for donations to Haiti, Representative Dave Camp, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said.
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The deal struck on Wednesday would increase the amount of certain Haitian knit and woven clothing products that qualify for U.S. duty-free treatment to 200 million square meter equivalents (SMEs), from 70 million currently. That increase would occur in any year that Haiti ships at least 52 million SMEs of the knit and woven product. However, to provide a buffer for U.S. producers, the bill sets separate "sublimits" of 85 million SMEs for knit clothing and 70 million for woven apparel.
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The American Apparel and Footwear Association, which represents major U.S. clothing importers, said it would push for a quick vote in Congress on the trade legislation. "This bill works to ensure that all facets of the U.S. apparel and textile industry have the opportunity to participate in Haiti's short-term recovery and long-term growth," the group's president, Kevin Burke, said.
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(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Will Dunham)

Associated Press
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ
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An increasing number of small businesses are helping the Dominican government play a larger economic role in rebuilding Haiti. In the last three months, more than 100 Dominican companies have sold $5.5 million in products, including bread and latrines, to nonprofit organizations and United Nations agencies providing help in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
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"The Dominican Republic has a built-in capacity to provide a quick and competitive response," said Eddy Martinez, director of the government's Center for Export and Investment, which certifies companies to do business in Haiti and helped organize an exhibition for their products in the Dominican Republic.International leaders have pledged more than $3.8 billion over 18 months to help Haiti rebuild from the quake, which killed an estimated 230,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless.
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Dominican exports to Haiti fell nearly 20 percent in January and February compared to the same period last year. The two countries share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. A government study on how the earthquake affected commerce with Haiti warned that the Dominican economy would continue to suffer if other countries become the main suppliers during the rebuilding. The Foreign Ministry taught local business owners in March how to seek contracts with the U.N. and will offer another session next week.
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Many of the companies are doing business in Haiti for the first time. "I immediately began searching the Internet for ideas to create my own design," said carpenter Erasmo Morel, whose wood-furnishing factory on the outskirts of Santo Domingo expects to ship 10 homes to Haiti worth a total of $35,000.
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Grace Baptist Church will use them to house 60 orphans near the Haitian town of Ganthier, just east of Port-au-Prince. The children's orphanage in the capital was destroyed. Miguel Nadal, a spokesman for Gerardino Real Estate Company, said that company also is selling prefabricated homes worth $3,500 each. He has already made a presentation to U.N. and nonprofit officials, but has not received any offers.
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The Dominican Republic earned a total of $647 million in 2009 from goods exported to Haiti, including food, cement and zinc.

The Miami Herald
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles@MiamiHerald.com
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- They line up well before the break of dawn, as early as 3 a.m. next to a collapsed hospital in this quake-ravaged capital. With yellow envelopes in hand, and a color photo attached to their hand-printed applications, they wait -- holding out hope and a prayer they will be among the chosen few. ``I just want to work,'' said Jimmy Antoine, 30, an unemployed manager who lost his livelihood when the hotel he worked in toppled into rubble during the deadly Jan. 12, 7.0-magnitude earthquake. ``It doesn't matter what kind of job. I'll take whatever I can find.''
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Since Jan. 18, the operators of SODEC International, one of Haiti's few employment agencies, have collected 147,000 applications from job-seeking Haitians like Antoine, who spent hours braving the Haitian heat and chasing rumors of employment opportunities. Haiti's desperate plea for jobs is poised to get a huge boost Wednesday when U.S. lawmakers from both chambers and parties approve legislation aimed at bolstering long-term investments in Haiti's textile and apparel market by giving the Caribbean nation greater access to the U.S. clothing market.
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The expansion of the trade preferences would allow Haiti to triple its duty-free access for knits and woven fabrics -- while extending the benefits well into the next decade. In 2006, Congress passed the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act to boost Haitian exports to the United States. It was then modified. This is the third modification. It's a move Haitian officials had been pushing for well before the Jan. 12 catastrophic quake but pursued in earnest after the devastation shattered what little there was of Haiti's economy, and leaving 1.3 million Haitians homeless.
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``I heartly welcome this latest move by such a broad coalition of both parties and of both houses of the U.S. Congress to help attract massive investment to Haiti in the textile sector,'' President René Préval told The Miami Herald. Préval said the new access should help to create tens of thousands of jobs -- a huge nod ``toward the reconstruction of the Haitian economy.''
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Following the quake that Préval now says has left 300,000 dead, the world community rushed to Haiti's aid, spending and pledging billions on the relief and recovery. But supporters of Haiti have long argued that jobs, not handouts, are key to helping the disaster-prone nation get back on its feet.
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``The survival and stability of Haiti will be determined in large part by rebuilding a viable economy,'' said Sen. Bill Nelson, a cosponsor of the bill. ``Expanding Haiti's access to the U.S. market is exactly the right thing to do at this critical juncture.'' Nelson said the bill is expected to pass the senate chamber unanimously, and could reach President Barack Obama for his signature as early as next week after passing the house.
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Mark D'Sa, senior director for sourcing and production with Gap, said the legislation ``is a significant step in the right direction.'' Even with the limits the HELP ACT -- as the legislation is being called -- puts on woven pants and knit T-shirts to protect U.S. jobs and not negatively impact other trade legislations in the region, it will promote benefits, he said. But he warned, while a balanced agreement, it is ``not the panacea to Haiti's problems.''
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Still with the Haitian government expressing a desire to create at least three industrial parks outside of Port-au-Prince, and three Korean textile manufactures expressing interest in creating between 10,000 and 30,000 new jobs in Haiti, the legislation comes at an opportune time, say Haitians. For instance in recent months, at least three Korean manufacturers and government officials have expressed interest in investing in Haiti, visiting the country at least on four different occasions. Two weeks ago the Haitian government hand-delivered a letter to Korea's foreign minister offering to provide land in exchange for a $50 million investment by the Korean government. The money would go into the creation of a new industrial park outside of the capital near Croix-des- Bouquets where the government and international community recently moved hundreds of homeless families living in a dangerous golf course.
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The new industrial park would include housing, as well as the latest factory models. ``There's going to be a minimum of 50,000 jobs created in the next three to four years and this is important,'' said Lionel Delatour, a consultant for the Haitian government who has been instrumental in getting all three special trade legislations on Haiti's behalf passed. Delatour said though the initial jobs will be in the garment sector, ``the new investors are interested in dying and finising and building textile plants,'' which would lead to higher-paying jobs. Today, there are a total of 28 companies and 28,000 workers in an industry that once offered as many as 130,000 jobs.
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Georges Sassine, the Haitian government liaison on the trade legislation, said now that the U.S. lawmakers have done their part, the ball is now in the court of the foreign companies. He and Delatour are in Brazil selling Haiti to that South American nation's biggest manufactures. The need for jobs here is evident on any given day as Haitians take over sidewalks hoping for work.
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On Tuesday, more than 500 people had already handed in applications well before noon closing time to Henry Chery, the director general of SODEC International. An employment agency, the group most recently ran a nine-story hospital that pancaked with 151 people including new mothers inside.
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The fact that Haitians would take a job in a factory, even if they are overqualified to operate a sewing machine is the new reality of Haiti, a country where even out-of-work doctors are agreeing to stack boxes for foreign nonprofit groups for $12-a-day because they have a family to feed, Chery said.
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``That is what pains me the most,'' he said, working from out of a shipping container parked next to the hospital. ``People don't want to live like homeless victims, waiting for a handout. They want to work hard so that they can eat.'' Chery says his goal is to collect 400,000 applications, basing that number on statements, he said, made by Préval during a recent visit by former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to Haiti. The two last month wrote a letter to key lawmakers asking them to support the trade bill.
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``President Préval said the international community would create 200,000 jobs in Haiti,'' he said, believing the number. ``They will provide it if everything bodes well for Haiti. They cannot reconstruct without the people to do the labor, a secretary to welcome the people to the offices or a receptionist, or without the people to do the payroll.''
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Miami Herald staff writer Lesley Clark contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

5/5/2010
CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
By Jennifer Scholtes
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In another attempt to throw a lifeline to the struggling Haitian economy, the House passed a bill Wednesday to bolster the country’s textile and apparel businesses, its main export industry.
The measure (HR 5160), which the House passed by voice vote, would extend and expand certain trade benefits provided to such products from Haiti to encourage long-term investment in the industry.
The textile and apparel businesses, which make up about 90 percent of Haiti’s exports to the United States, were hit hard by January’s devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
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The disaster damaged the factories as well as the seaports and roadways needed to transport the goods. The Commerce Department estimates that U.S. imports of Haitian apparel have decreased by 43 percent from the same period in 2009. The legislation would increase the respective tariff preference levels under which certain Haitian knit and woven apparel products could receive duty-free treatment. It would extend, through Sept. 30, 2020, existing Haitian and Caribbean Basin trade programs set to expire on Sept. 30 (PL 106-200, PL 109-432, PL 110-234).
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“These benefits will encourage the long-term investment in Haiti that they desperately need for economic recovery and future stability,” Republican Dave Camp of Michigan said on the floor Wednesday. “I am convinced that the bill will promote trade and investment in the region and to create a strong hemispheric partnership with U.S. interests.”
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Lawmakers have worked with the U.S. apparel industry for several months to develop acceptable provisions. With assurance that tight controls would be maintained on certain products, domestic manufacturers accepted the lower tariff barriers proposed by the bill.
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The measure was introduced on April 28 by Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., and came directly to the floor without a markup. The Ways and Means Committee did, however, make changes to the bill before it was considered by the House, adding language that would offset the bill’s costs by extending customs user fees. The change would ensure the bill complies with pay-as-you-go rules.
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With support from U.S. manufacturers and members on both sides of the aisle, the measure is expected to pass quickly in the Senate as well. Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has introduced a companion measure (S 3275) with identical provisions, but neither the committee nor the chamber has acted on the legislation.
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Despite support from industry interests and lawmakers, the measure could have negative economic impacts for the United States and some of its trade partners. U.S. companies provide the yarn and fabric used in factories in the region covered by the Central American Free Trade Agreement (PL 109-53), and increased production in Haiti could take a toll on those countries, reducing orders to U.S. mills.
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Groups also have raised concern about provisions that would offer duty-free treatment to additional textile and apparel goods that are wholly assembled or knit-to-shape in Haiti, regardless of the origin of the materials. The critics argue the change will spur an increase of Haitian imports made with yarn or fabric from countries other than the United States.
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“This legislation will allow for duty-free access to yarns and fabrics produced in other Third World countries, and Haiti will simply be more of a location for shipment than other nations,” North Carolina Republican Patrick T. McHenry said during floor debate Wednesday.
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“Bad trade deals like this one have devastated my district in North Carolina and manufacturing in the United States.” Duty-free treatment also would be extended, through Dec. 20, 2016, to wire harness automotive components imported from Haiti.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Homeland Security Department, would be required to verify that apparel imported under the tariff preference levels has not been unlawfully shipped into the United States. The bill would authorize the president to reduce the preference levels to account for illegal shipments.
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The agency would be required to assess Haiti’s customs needs and to provide assistance to re-establish the country’s port operations. An initial $100,000, as well as $750,000 annually for fiscal years 2011 through 2020, would be authorized for assistance to Haiti’s customs infrastructure.
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This legislation is not the first time Congress has reached out to Haiti’s flagship industries. In 2006, a special trade program was enacted to increase Haitian exports to the United States. The program is one of the two that the bill would extend.
The measure passed Wednesday is one of several offered to ease the burden on Haiti following the disaster.
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Ten days after the earthquake, legislation (PL 111-126) was enacted allowing individuals who made donations to Haitian relief in the early part of 2010 to claim the deduction on their 2009 tax return, rather than waiting until filing their taxes next year.
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In late April, the president signed a law (PL 111-158) that would encourage the cancellation of Haiti’s foreign debt. The law called for the U.S. representatives at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and other multilateral development institutions to use the “voice, vote and influence” of the United States to cancel $709 million in debts that Haiti owes to the organizations.
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Joseph J. Schatz and Robert Tomkin contributed to this story.

Business Wire
5/14/010
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The commercial sea port of Port au Prince, Haiti now boasts an advanced vessel tracking and communications system, designed to aid port management and international relief organizations. The identification and second-by-second position, course and speed of any ship within tens of kilometers of the port is presented to Haitian port operators and relayed to the US DOT / Volpe Center Maritime Safety and Security Information System (MSSIS) server. The MSSIS server delivers Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) from around the world and enables the Navy and the Haitian port authority to expertly manage vessel traffic, making the receipt of relief supplies and regular Haitian maritime trade safer and more efficient.
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The vessel tracking system was donated to the Haitian Port Authority by an industry team of network and communications product manufacturers and service providers. Digi International /quotes/comstock/15*!dgii/quotes/nls/dgii (DGII 9.61, -0.05, -0.52%) donated a Connect WAN 3G cellular router, ORBCOMM and T-Mobile USA provided free wireless services, and L-3 Aviation Recorders donated a PROTEC Automated Identification System (AIS) Transceiver. The Digi router links the L-3 AIS transceiver via high-speed T-Mobile cellular data to the MSSIS server.
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"Our goal of establishing systems, technologies and procedures in the opening of the Port au Prince port is a critical task," said Captain Andy Bjork, U.S. Navy. "The team helped us by providing the remote network equipment and installation support. Now the Haitian Port Authority can operate with higher effectiveness and efficiency, a tremendous benefit as the country rebuilds."
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"We are pleased to provide assistance in any way possible to aid the Haitian people," said Steve Mazur, director of government sales, Digi International. "The U.S. Navy faced a challenge in opening and managing the Port au Prince port, and we are happy to have made that process easier."
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Digi International is making wireless M2M easy by developing reliable products and solutions to connect and securely manage local or remote electronic devices over the network or via the Web. Digi offers the highest levels of performance, flexibility and quality, and markets its products through a global network of distributors and resellers, systems integrators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). For more information, visit Digi's Web site at www.digi.com, or call 877-912-3444.
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Press Contacts:
Jan McBride
Digi International
(952) 912-3473
jan_mcbride@digi.com
or
Matt Serra
Mulberry Marketing Communications
(312) 664-1532
mserra@mulberrymc.com

Miami Herald
By JIM WYSS
jwyss@miamiherald.com
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Randal Perkins, the chief executive of South Florida's AshBritt, stood before Haiti's ruined National Palace -- with its crumbled columns and shattered domes -- watching two of his yellow excavators sift through the rubble. It was a powerful photo-op in front of the nation's most symbolic political institution. But there was one wrinkle in the picture: AshBritt doesn't have a contract to work on the high-profile project.
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More than four months after Haiti's lethal earthquake, the international commission overseeing the recovery is still mulling how to spend the $9.9 billion pledged to the nation. But U.S. contractors are diving in, making high-stakes bets that reconstruction deals will eventually bring a windfall. Companies have spent millions moving personnel and machinery to the shattered island since the Jan. 12 earthquake. Others have started on projects despite having no formal agreements to be compensated for the work. And all are lining up political allies as they elbow for a spot at the front of the line.
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That has some here worried that deep pockets and powerful interests may be warping the playing field before the business of rebuilding Haiti truly begins.
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``If you are doing work with the expectation that it will turn into a contract, then you are disrupting the system,'' said Reginald Bolous, the president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. ``We should give everyone a chance to compete for jobs -- particularly small local enterprises.''
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According to the Federal Procurement Database, about $93 million in U.S. government contracts have already been awarded in Haiti since the earthquake. But billions more will be poured into rebuilding roads, bridges and government offices. The massive earthquake killed a government-estimated 300,000 people and destroyed more than 250,000 buildings -- leaving the streets clogged with about 60 million cubic meters of rubble -- enough to fill the Rose Bowl 188 times.
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While small-scale demolition and debris removal is under way, much of the heavy lifting awaits, and will require machinery not available in the country. Pompano Beach-based AshBritt joined forces with Haiti's GB Group, a large industrial and commercial company, and Alabama-based D&J Enterprises to form the Haiti Recovery Group.
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HRG, as the company is known, has invested about $25 million in getting ready for Haiti contracts and has moved 106 pieces of heavy equipment into position, Perkins said. `You can't wait to react. We made a business decision to work in Haiti, we assessed the risks, and made a capital investment,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, this is a place where you have to put the cart before the horse.''
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While the company waits for contracts, Perkins loaned the government's CNE construction company two specialized excavators to work on demolishing the National Palace. However, outside of a brief photo-op, the two excavators seemed to sit idle in front of the ailing mansion, and CNE refused to talk about the contractor's role at the site. Other companies are also forging ahead. Fort Lauderdale-based Bergeron Emergency Services is working in partnership with a Haiti-based rice and cement importer, SAJ, which also runs a private port just outside of Port-au-Prince.
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Company president J.R. Bergeron said he has spent more than $1 million moving staff into the country, setting up local offices and securing 40 million tons of lime-rock from neighboring Dominican Republic that will be a key ingredient in a proposed asphalt plant. Alabama-based DRC is another major player. Working with one of Haiti's largest road builders, V&F Construction, DRC helped recover bodies from the Montana hotel.
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Since then, DRC has taken over operations at the municipal landfill that sits along a prominent road to the international airport. A DRC spokeswoman said that the work there was started on a voluntary basis, but she would not provide further details.
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In a statement, the World Bank said it financed a feasibility study on the landfill, which it has forwarded to the Haitian government. If the government pursues the project -- which the World Bank might finance for six to 12 months -- an international bidding process would be launched.
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``No proposal from DRC or V&F has been communicated to the World Bank to clear rubble at the Truitier landfill and the World Bank has never offered to refund any cost to these firms,'' the bank wrote. ``If the government decides to move ahead with this project, these firms may however present bids for the management contract of the debris site.''
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Doing work on spec is not out of the ordinary, said the U.S. Agency for International Development. ``It can be common for contractors to work -- or offer help -- at their expense after a major disaster strikes a country,'' Melissa Nachatelo-Lee with USAID's Office of Acquisition and Assistance said in an e-mail. ``Some may be doing this to gain experience while others anticipate that their efforts can lead to future opportunities.''
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To date, the only rubble removal contract USAID has issued was a $3.5 million deal with the PHS Group of Silver Spring, Md., a Haitian-American-owned firm that has worked in Iraq and in Florida on Everglades restoration projects. J.R. Bergeron said posturing and aggressive self-promotion in Haiti was an inevitable part of this high-stakes competition.
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``The bottom line is that it's almost not good enough to stand on your own merit,'' he said. ``Politics plays a large role.'' Part of the political game is to tout the benefits to the local economy. All of the contractors have pledged to hire Haitian subcontractors and help support local small businesses. And all of them have joined forces with Haitian companies that are known as much for their capabilities as their political clout.
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Ultimately, it will be up to the international commission, spearheaded by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, to decide how the contracts are issued.
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With so much work to be done in the struggling nation, Perkins said he's confident there will be enough work to go around. But it's still a leap of faith. ``You have to weigh the risks,'' he said, ``then cross your fingers and hope to hell it all works out in the end.''
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Miami Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.

7/6/2010
Associated Press
By Ben Fox
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Like a small-town booster, Randall Perkins proudly shows off his base camp: air-conditioned bedrooms and offices for 120 managers, a mess hall that can serve 1,000 meals a day, a gym and an infirmary alongside his bulldozers and dump trucks. Pompano Beach, Florida-based AshBritt Inc. so far has invested $25 million in its Haitian reconstruction operation covering a soccer field. Now all Perkins needs is a government contract to make his investment pay off.
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Nearly six months after the devastating January quake that killed as many 300,000 and destroyed much of the capital, not one major reconstruction contract has been awarded. That hasn't stopped AshBritt and other masters of disaster from preparing for the day when the pledged international support — some $10 billion over the next decade — starts going up for bid.
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Some companies, such as Ceres Environmental Services Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, are veterans of the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina, where they hauled away tons of downed trees and branches from the 2005 storm. Ceres is building temporary homes for quake victims while preparing to bid for more work. Mobile, Alabama-based DRC Group has a 35-acre service yard in Port-au-Prince for hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment for demolition and debris removal.
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Though they don't know yet how big the contracts will be, they're banking from experience on the tantalizing prospect of work for years to come. AshBritt was awarded nearly $900 million from the U.S. government for debris removal after Katrina, collecting and processing some 21 million cubic yards of wreckage.
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"There's a tremendous amount of work to do here," Perkins said of Haiti. "There are a lot of slices in that pie." So far, governments and private groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on searches, rescues, emergency supplies and clearing rubble. But most of that work was done without competitive bidding and represents only a fraction of what eventually will be spent.
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Very little of the promised foreign aid has been released, caught up either in legislative approval, bureaucratic regulations or in the complications of life in Haiti. The U.S. Congress, for example, is still considering a bill that would provide up to $2 billion to Haiti. The Caribbean country, meanwhile, faces a dizzying — and time-consuming — array of logistical and legal issues, including securing permission to tear down buildings whose owners perished in the quake. Any land cleared for construction risks being taken over immediately by squatters.
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But Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who will oversee the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, said financing and construction contracts would start to be issued within months. There is much work to be done: The quake destroyed about 105,000 homes, 1,300 schools, 50 hospitals, the presidential palace, parliament, courts and the port. Many other structures were damaged, and the country was left with enough rubble to fill the Louisiana Superdome five times.
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Most of the companies seeking work in Haiti won't talk about it, in part to avoid seeming like they are capitalizing on catastrophe. There is also fierce competition for contracts to clear debris, carve new roads and drainage canals, restore the electrical grid and rebuild government offices. AshBritt is one of the more open. The company has formed a joint venture with the GB Group, a conglomerate run by one of Haiti's wealthiest men, Gilbert Bigio, and established partnerships with a number of smaller construction firms.
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Perkins, a tall, garrulous executive who arrived days after the quake, expects to hire 600-700 Haitians within a year, as well as provide capital to the smaller local construction companies that it will work with in partnership. "There is an opportunity in this terrible disaster to use the money that is coming in to make a difference," he said at his base camp, the former site of the Israeli Defence Forces' field hospital set up in the aftermath of the quake.
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DRC Group has formed a partnership with Haiti's V&F Construction and hired 300 local workers to demolish buildings, remove debris and set up portable toilets in the quake zone, according to a corporate statement. It already been hired to demolish buildings and clear streets in Port-au-Prince and is expected to be a major competitor for the large government contracts to come. The company declined requests for an interview.
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Ceres Environmental, which was awarded nearly $500 million from the U.S. government to remove debris after Katrina, is partnering with Yele Haiti, the charity founded by Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean, to build 100 temporary wood-frame homes for quake survivors. David A. Preus, the company's project manager for operations in the country, declined in an interview to discuss future contracts.
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"The future of Haiti is very bright, and Ceres looks forward to being a part of that future," Preus said. Also scouting for prospects are a number of construction companies from the neighbouring Dominican Republic that have experience in operating in Haiti and, perhaps more importantly, easier access to the heavy equipment that is in short supply.
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"No one is doing anything yet. All the companies are waiting for the projects to be approved," said Manuel Estrella, president of Grupo Estrella, which had a pre-quake road project in Haiti and has since found some construction and debris-removal work.
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All the companies are confronting Haiti's reputation for corruption. Those who would discuss the subject insist the problem is no worse in the Caribbean country than elsewhere in the world. "I would not be down here with the money I'm investing if I thought I was going to be overrun by corruption," Perkins said.

6/14/2010
Globe and Mail
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Sweating through their suits behind a podium set a few hundred feet above the staggering coastline that is this city’s best asset, a group of business and political leaders attempted to sell Jacmel over the weekend. Their pitch: the opportunity to help shape this underdog Haitian city into a true tourist paradise. The offer drew such an unprecedented mass of potential investors – abut 80 foreigners travelled from Port-au-Prince to hear it – that many were forced to sleep three to a room in sold-out hotels, an inconvenience softened by a late-night dance show and a steady supply of Prestige, Haiti’s national beer.
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The event, attended by the city’s top politicians, was part of Jacmel’s ongoing mission to force the decentralization of post-earthquake investment by wooing business people away from Haiti’s overrun capital and onto the shores of what was once the country’s top tourist destination. It was also a small power play on the part of local politicians frustrated by the fact that the reconstruction of Jacmel, a city many would argue is Haiti’s most precious cultural gem, is not a national priority.
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“We hope bringing investors here will make the central government aware that Haiti and the diaspora care about Jacmel,” Mayor Edo Zenny said in a speech. He did not articulate the deep fears among leaders here that without private investment, the city will never be rebuilt. In Port-au-Prince, there is still much wrangling over which of the decimated government departments are to oversee urban planning, zoning and mapping the future of collapsed cities.
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However, Patrick Delatour, the national Minister of Tourism, was frank about the grim outlook. It will take the government 10 to 20 years to return Haiti’s tourism sector to its pre-earthquake state, he said. One quarter of the nation’s international-standard hotel rooms – 500 in total – were destroyed on Jan. 12. Investors should see that dearth as an opportunity, he said. “It’s about time people start investing in hotels in this country,” he said, adding: “We need a partnership between the public and private sector to plan the reconstruction.”
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To ease the minds of daunted investors – and to inspire some to take more than baby steps in Jacmel Lesly Kernisant, a Haitian-born doctor who chairs the Société Immobilière d’Agriculture, de Commerce et de Tourisme a group of 51 New York-based shareholders with a range of investments in Haiti, presented an ambitious real-estate project his group is pushing forward.
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“I was able to convince my colleagues, let’s remove our money from Wall Street and put it on Main Street Haiti,” Dr. Kernisant said. Already the owners of the Cap Lamandou, an oceanfront hotel in Jacmel that is the most luxurious in southern Haiti, SIMACT is planning the construction of a new $25-million gated residential and hotel complex on a 24-acre seaside plot just outside of Jacmel. Called Belle Rive, the country club-esque complex is to feature a 120-room luxury hotel and 94 condominiums, a private marina, health spa and movie theatre. Its target buyers, Dr. Kernisant said, are not only tourists in search of an exotic locale, but “Haitian baby-boomers” who have spent their professional lives in Canada and the United States and can afford what is sure to be a steep price tag.
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“They’re the ones whose retirement portfolios are very full,” he said. “If you were to offer them a condo on the shores of Boca Raton [Florida] or Jacmel, the choice is simple.” Shovels at Belle Rive will hit the ground as soon as SIMACT raises sufficient financing for construction, which may not take long now that Haiti has the attention of investors, Dr. Kernisant said. “The earthquake had the paradoxical effect of making Haiti a place people are now looking to invest,” he said.
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The question is whether – and where – international investors will be convinced to do more than just look. “Jacmel is a place where it could really work,” said Guy Hart Jr., managing partner of the Syracuse-based real estate investment firm Hart Lyman Companies LLC, which has spent more than $100,000 since January conducting research for the construction of a planned community. “Before the earthquake, Jacmel was quaint. It had character,” Mr. Hart said. “You might not have been able to say the same thing about Port-au-Prince.”

Associated Press
By JENNIFER KAY
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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Haiti's prime minister visited Florida on Tuesday seeking potential investors for an estimated $5.3-billion in rebuilding projects he is overseeing along with Bill Clinton in the earthquake-ravaged nation. Jean-Max Bellerive said major financing and construction contracts will be issued shortly and some smaller contracts for road rebuilding have already been signed as the Caribbean country seeks to recover from the Jan. 12 quake that devastated Haiti's capital.
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Bellerive sought to assure potential investors that corruption and bureacratic red tape pre-dating the quake have been addressed, that rebuilding will spur jobs' creation and that Haiti's leaders are committed to holding presidential and parliamentary elections later this year. "People know Haiti, and they know Haiti badly. I'm here to stop that," Bellerive told The Associated Press in an interview in which he also sought to boost Haiti's image.
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Haitian President Rene Preval's five-year term expires Feb. 7, 2010, though the country issued a law in May allowing an extension of his term up to three months if the elections are not held as scheduled Nov. 28. Bellerive reiterated Preval's pledge to abide by that timetable and noted that investor confidence is closely linked to unblemished elections.
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"If we don't have transparent elections, we won't have investment, either," he said. "It's one deal." Bellerive and former U.S. president Clinton, presently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will oversee the more than $5 billion in donor pledges for the next 18 months. Bellerive touted economic opportunities in Haiti despite the quake that struck what is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
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Those opportunities include trade breaks for Haiti's textile industry, which have been extended since the quake through 2020, he said. Textiles and apparel are Haiti's most important export to the United States, with apparel exports reaching $513 million last year.
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Bellerive also said hundreds of millions of dollars in debts canceled by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund are not handouts, but constitute recognition of Haiti's efforts to tackle corruption and encourage investment. "They recognize that we fight corruption, that we are a transparent government," he said. "It's the main reason, if not the sole reason, that they erased the debt — not because of the earthquake."
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Builders have complained about delays at the ports and Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic holding up construction. Even before the quake leveled most of the country's capital, navigating Haiti's complicated, corruption-riddled customs system was difficult. The quake killed as many as 300,000 people and destroyed the presidential palace, the port and about 105,000 homes, 1,300 schools and 50 hospitals. About 1.5 million Haitians remain homeless. Thousands of homes are deemed safe, but tent cities are growing as many are unable to secure permanent housing.
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Meanwhile, little of the pledged international support — some $10 billion over the next decade — has been released so far. Some of the aid is awaiting legislative approval, while logistical and legal issues remain to removing the rubble of private homes whose owners cannot be located.
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Bellerive downplayed the delays. "There are a lot of small problems," he said. "What is happening (is) we are progressing — slowly, but we are progressing."

6/17/2010
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Officials from leading companies, including Dow Chemical Company and FedEx, last week met with the Haitian government and leading NGOs during a corporate trip to earthquake-ravaged and poverty-stricken Haiti. The delegation, convened and hosted by the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), CHF International, and Executives Without Borders, sought ways to engage in long-term recovery via activities such as in-country relationship building, international volunteerism, and understanding of the Haitian leadership's priority redevelopment areas.
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"Being on-the-ground in Haiti provided an invaluable view of needs and opportunities for U.S. business involvement in reconstruction and economic development," said U.S. Chamber BCLC Global Corporate Citizenship Manager Taryn Bird. "Yet the challenges to operating in Haiti remain immense. Our delegation benefited from briefings by a wide swath of Haitian business, government, and community leaders while visiting multiple sites, including micro-businesses, transitional shelter sites, and retail training facilities."
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The Haitian government has identified five key areas for redevelopment and foreign investment: agriculture, artisans and crafts, construction, the garment industry, and tourism. The purpose of last week's trip was to analyze and activate corporate opportunities that align with local needs and priorities.
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Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, Dow Chemical Company, FedEx, the Harvard Business School, Pfizer, and Timberland all sent officials to Haiti as part of the invitation-only delegation. Staff from the U.S. Chamber BCLC, the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), CHF International, and Executives Without Borders accompanied the delegates.
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"I quickly saw the need for on-the-ground coordination that will be required for effective rebuilding in Haiti," said FedEx Global Citizenship Program Advisor Shane O'Connor. "An important next step is for corporate America to gain familiarity with operating in-country. Through cultural and situational understanding, trust-building, and long-term relationships with NGOs working in Haiti, FedEx and other companies can leverage their expertise and be a significant force for good."
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As a result of the trip to Haiti, the U.S. Chamber BCLC, CHF International, and Executives Without Borders will work diligently in coming months – and years – to effectively pair local needs with companies desiring to engage in reconstruction and redevelopment. "Even in an emergency situation, our many decades of development experience have taught us at CHF International to consider long-term development from the earliest possible moment. An essential part of that sustainable approach is private sector investment.
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Since 2006 we have been undertaking the largest USAID-funded job and infrastructure creation program in Haiti and through this program we have been working closely with the Haitian and international private sector. Bringing new corporations to experience the country and meet with decision makers and key stakeholders to help match community and commercial needs is an important part of our mission," said Michel Holsten, CHF International Vice President for Business Development.
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For more information, including first-hand accounts, visit BCLCblog at http://bclc.chamberpost.com/tag/haiti.
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About BCLC: The Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC), a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a resource and voice for business' social and philanthropic interests. BCLC's Global Corporate Citizenship Program facilitates effective private-sector engagement in international development. Under its Disaster Assistance and Recovery Program, BCLC tracked corporate donations to the immediate response process after the Haitian Earthquake. Corporate donations exceeded $147 million. Visit www.uschamber.com/bclc.
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About CHF International: CHF International is an international development organization founded in 1952 that works in post-conflict, unstable and developing countries. We partner with communities around the world to help them to improve and direct their lives and livelihoods. We believe that the people best suited to decide what a community needs are the people of the community itself. CHF is a politically neutral, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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About Executives Without Borders: Executives Without Borders serves as the critical link between experienced individuals eager to serve the global community and humanitarian projects around the world. ExecWB recruits experienced business leaders who volunteer for service and place them around the world to execute projects directed at improving the quality of life. Visit http://www.executiveswithoutborders.org.
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CONTACT:
Kitty Taylor, U.S. Chamber BCLC, 202-431-1993 or ctaylor@uschamber.com
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David Humphries, CHF International, 301-563-1891 or dhumphries@chfinternational.org

6/23/2010
Caribbean Net News
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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministerial Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has given its support to a proposal for Haiti to have non-reciprocal access to the Community’s markets for some goods for a period of three years.
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The COTED meeting ended in Georgetown on Friday and Chair of the two-day Meeting, Senator the Honourable Joanne Massiah, Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, lauded the magnanimous gesture of Member States. Haiti, which was represented at the Meeting, has drawn up a list of the products for which it is seeking non-reciprocal access. Member States have a short period within which they will review and provide their responses to the CARICOM Secretariat.
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Senator Massiah expressed optimism that stakeholders in Member States also would lend support to the proposal which she said would go a long way to boost Haiti’s trade position in particular, and its recovery in general. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti had been taking steps to put the necessary arrangements in place to begin participation in the Trade in Goods Regime of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
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Among the other highlights of the Meeting, Senator Massiah said, were discussions on the review of the rules of procedures for COTED. The rules of procedure had an impact on how the Council did business, she pointed out, and made reference to the litigation the Community faced recently. The review is being done against the backdrop of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision in the case brought by TCL against the Community, as well as the recent legal action being brought against the Community by Caribbean Flour Mills.
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The COTED Chair also referred to the deliberations on the Community’s external trade agenda which included the status of the CARICOM-Canada negotiations for a Trade and Development Agreement. Two rounds of negotiations have been held and a third will be held later this year. Updates were also provided on the CARICOM Trade Ministers Mission to the United States, as well as on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
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The formidable agenda of the two-day Meeting included discussions on the CSME, with specific reference to a study to assess the factors and circumstances that constrained the full participation of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (CSME) and Belize in the CSME. The study was commissioned to provide recommendations on the way forward for the full Integration of the OECS and Belize into the CSME.
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Discussions at the meeting also focused on the Regional Integration Policy on Public Procurement in the Caribbean, and on the operationalisation of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) which was launched earlier this year in Suriname. Ministers also received an update on the 9th and 10th European Development Fund Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (CRIP).

6/30/2010
Miami Herald
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles@MiamiHerald.com
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PORT-AU-PRINCE -- It was supposed to be an oasis in an investment-hungry nation riding a wave of improved security and optimism: a 60-room South Beach-inspired hotel offering upscale shops, a 300-car garage and a helipad. Then the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake hit, wiping out $6.4 million in investments as investors lay dead, and others stood in financial ruin. Almost six months after the disaster, the Oasis hotel project is on its way back with more than double the rooms. The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing $7.5 million in low-interest financing to developers to help restart construction as early as next week.
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``It's one thing to say Haiti is now open for business, but how open can we be when we don't even have hotel rooms to lodge potential investors?'' said Jerry Tardieu, chief executive officer of SCIOP S.A., the Haitian company developing the mixed-use hotel complex. With a planned November 2011 opening date, it's expected to be Haiti's first newly built post-quake hotel. In less than a minute, the earthquake left a government-estimated 300,000 dead, and wiped out 848 of Port-au-Prince's 1,621 hotel rooms, including the country's most well-known, and prized brand, Hotel Montana.
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Already under construction in Petionville, the Oasis' hotel building survived, but the restaurant, used to generate revenue to help support the complex's construction, was badly damaged. Henrik Pedersen, IFC tourism sector head, said Oasis' survival of the 7.0-magnitude quake and its ability to create jobs in a shattered economy were among the things that made the project appealing. ``We understand there are very few safe hotel rooms left and this will be a critical part of getting business back to Haiti and improving the business infrastructure,'' he said.
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Pedersen said the IFC plans to also look at how it can assist other hotel owners in rebuilding in support of Haiti's reconstruction efforts. ``We consider tourism and hotels an essential part of a country's business infrastructure,'' he said about the IFC, which has more than 230 hotel projects active in more than 60 countries across the globe.
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Tardieu said plans to create office space were scrapped to increase the rooms from 60 to 132. The IFC also will provide technical assistance. ``There is a void in the market to fill and this is a unique investment opportunity,'' said Tardieu, whose investors range from school teachers to doctors to business moguls, all Haitian. Since the devastation, the international community has pledged more than $5 billion for rebuilding over the next two years, but donors have been slow to fulfill their pledges.
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``This is the first direct signal of the confidence the international community is having in Haiti and tourism remains one of the sectors of economic development of the country,'' said Tourism Minister Patrick Delatour, an architect who is helping to lead reconstruction efforts. Still, Haiti has its challenges. Local hotel owners, like many owners of the businesses destroyed in the quake, are struggling to find financing while haggling with banks and insurance companies. This week, the U.S. Embassy revised its travel warning for U.S. citizens, urging them to avoid travel to Haiti, saying that in recent months at least two U.S. citizens visiting relatives have been shot and killed after leaving Port-au-Prince's airport.
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Since 2006, the IFC has provided $68.6 million to eight private sector projects in Haiti. Earlier this year, it also assisted the Haitian government in a $99 million public-private sector deal with Vietnam's largest mobile telephone operator, Viettel. Viettel will retain a 60 percent stake in state-owned Télécommunications d'Haiti (TELECO).

Sourcing
By Ivan Castano Freeman
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It has been eight months since Haiti's devastating earthquake. Haiti's textile and apparel production has neared pre-earthquake levels but reconstruction efforts remain slow and pose a threat to future competition, industry participants have told just-style. However, echoing a chorus of criticism about the rebuilding effort, they claim a mere 3% of the international aid promised in the wake of the disaster has reached the country. "January saw a 50% drop in US exports but they levelled off in the first five months and we could see a flat or slight increase in exports this year," says Steve Lamar, executive vice-president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).
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Mesh Gelman, one of the organisers of the Choose Haiti group working to promote made-in-Haiti products, agrees, saying production rates are "close" to pre-quake levels as the biggest factories have resumed output. Last year, Haiti exported 237m square metres of textiles to the US, it's biggest buyer. The country's textiles industry is extremely important, accounting for three quarters of exports. With sales estimated at $120m-$150m, Haiti makes mostly T-shirts, underwear and uniforms.
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The powerful quake that struck last January killed 300,000 people, destroying countless factories and jobs in the process. But Lamar is optimistic the worst is now behind, adding that new trade legislation to galvanise US exports, coupled with rising interest from US and global brands to source in Haiti, should help bolster orders in coming months. Before the disaster, "Haiti was becoming the brighter spot in terms of trade and sourcing activity for many US brands," Lamar says. "They were very excited about the country and the new laws will begin to stimulate growth."
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These "new laws" include mainly the so-called HOPE 3 legislative package that expands duty-free benefits for Haitian exports as well as other incentives to encourage foreign players to manufacture in the country. However, Lamar remains cautious about the future, given Haiti's slow and unpredictable reconstruction efforts. "You have the rebuilding challenges and the country is in the middle of an election year so this could create new disruptions," he says. According to Lamar, the slow rebuilding of the country's crucial port has not significantly hindered the export process as most orders are moving via the Dominican Republic border. However, when growth picks up, a stalled port could very well create bottlenecks.
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On that note, Gelman says port throughput is also "close to normal" and that brands are not having trouble moving goods in and out of the country any more. Backing Lamar, he says manufacturers are still struggling to win new production orders though he was optimistic these will increase soon, potentially helping exports outpace 2009 levels. Despite the initial outpuring of aid, Mike Todaro, managing director of the American Apparel Network (AAPN), says many promises apppear broken. "Virtually no aid has reached the country, especially from the US," he says. "A lot of organisations have shown great skill at raising money but not sending it."
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Walter Wilhelm, who runs industry consultancy Walter Wilhelm & Associates, agrees. "There were billions promised but no-one really understands where the money has gone. It's all kind of sad. There are still many people living in tents." Production is also unlikely to have improved as much as the others claimed. "It can't be much better," Wilhelm charges. "I've heard many companies are still struggling to resume full production because they can't get loans to replace their equipment."
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Wilhelm, who is advising an Indian multinational considering sourcing in Haiti, notes shipments remain cluttered. "The port is still not fully operational and any timelines to fix it as well as many roads are likely to have been scaled back," he adds. Gelman rejects suggestions that the aid agencies or the government may have engaged in corruption, pocketing the the aid funds.
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"Only uninformed people can make this claim," he noted. "The reconstruction process is slow because it's very complex and overwhelming. A lot of good people are working very hard to ensure this happens as quickly as possible."

Herald-Ledger
By Rich Copley
rcopley@herald-leader.com
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OUANAMINTHE, Haiti — Haven Partnership's development sits atop a hill in Ouanaminthe, a city of 100,000 people in northern Haiti, on the border with the Dominican Republic. The concrete, pastel yellow units modestly house 150 families, but it's far sturdier shelter than the makeshift homes lining the highway below the development. The families have cover from storms, shade from the heat, gardens and clotheslines in their community, even a school down the hill. But at least one important thing is in short supply: jobs.
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Alltech president Pearse Lyons toured Dondon, Haiti, location of a coffee bean-processing cooperative. In the background is Citadelle Laferrière, a historic Haitian fortress. Lyons said he may name Alltech's new coffee products after the fortress. Alltech founder Pearse Lyons and coffee specialist Jennifer Frederick consulted with Jean Luckner of RECOCARNO, an umbrella organization for Northern Haiti coffee cooperatives.
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"The average income per family per month is $10," says Joe Grealy, an Irish builder who came to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, to work as a project manager for Haven when the real estate market dried up. "Those lucky enough to have a job make $3 to $5 a day, if they are lucky. But jobs are thin on the ground." Nicholasville-based Alltech plans to help by creating jobs for the village, as well as expanding its educational opportunities. In a field down the hill from the village by Haven, sort of an Irish version of Habitat for Humanity, wild horses and pigs roam free. But the field will soon be home to an Alltech factory that will manufacture several of the animal-feed products the company sells in the Dominican Republic. Alltech's founder and president, Pearse Lyons, said he already has a commitment from the company's Dominican distributor to buy $2.5 million of products in the factory's first year.
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"The possibility of an Alltech plant and jobs, and the multiple people that takes out of a poverty-stricken situation and into a sustainable situation to support a family, is fantastic," Grealy says. "If it were 20 jobs, that's going to support 300 people with family and extended family. It's a huge difference in people's lives." Alltech's Haitian adventure started with the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, about 80 miles south of Ouanaminthe.
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The next day, Lyons decided to fly to the stricken nation to see how the company could help. "One of the wonderful things about running a company like ours, where we don't have shareholders and we don't have stakeholders, is we can respond," Lyons said during a drive through Cap-Haitien, the largest city in northern Haiti, on a morning in early August. "You can listen, and you can read, but you have to see, and seeing is believing." He had been to Haiti only once before, in his early years as a brewery consultant. So he boarded Alltech's jet the day after the quake and flew into the Dominican Republic and then helicoptered into Haiti.
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"What compelled me to do it was I said, 'Let's go in there and find out if there is something we can do,'" Lyons said. He found a country in chaos, particularly near the devastated capital. Lyons began consulting with Clodys Menacho, general manager for Alltech's Central American operations, for a project they could undertake to help change a little corner of Haiti. Within three weeks, Alltech was in touch with a Haitian school and the city of Ouanaminthe.
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"We searched for a place that was close to the border, where we could go in and have an impact, where we could be a big fish in a little pool," Lyons says. While in Haiti earlier this month, Lyons gave the order to begin construction on its Ouanaminthe factory and look at some school projects in the area it was entering. The Alltech staff also did some other business.
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On a steamy Wednesday night in Cap-Haitien, Lyons and a staff of nine met representatives from RECOCARNO (the abbreviation for a French name that translates Network of North Region Coffee Cooperatives), an umbrella cooperative that represents eight coffee cooperatives in northern Haiti. Over bottles of Barbancourt rum and dinner at the open-air Café Lakay, they discussed a deal that cooperative official Renaud Fils Jean Jacques said would make Alltech the co-op's first U.S. customer. "We have been trying to get into the American market," he said, noting RECOCARNO exports to Europe, "but this will be our first time."

6/18/2010
Global News Wire
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UnderSea Recovery Corporation ("UNSR") (Pink Sheets:LGAL) announced today that it will be issued an exclusive permit for the search and recovery of historic shipwrecks in the territorial waters of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, where a number of valuable wrecks are known to be located. Under the provisions of the written proposal and the proprietary license agreement which were delivered by UNSR to the Mayor of Cap-Haitien on August 2, 2010, the initial term of the exclusive license being issued to UNSR will be five years, with two automatic five-year renewals. Revenues derived from the recovery operations will be used first to reimburse UNSR for project costs, with the remainder to be divided 50-50 between UNSR and the government.
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UNSR's CEO and its Vice President of Permitting have been invited to attend a ceremonial signing of the license agreement in Cap-Haitien, which will be attended by His Worship, the Mayor of Cap-Haitien, the Honourable Philocles St-Fleur, other mayoral officials in Haiti and other Haitian government dignitaries, as well as members of the press. UNSR expects to commence initial search operations under the permit later this year or early next year.
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In making this announcement, Herbert Leeming, UNSR's CEO, stated: "This is wonderful news for everyone involved in bringing about this important permit. We are confident that our partnership in Haiti will be enormously beneficial for our company and our stockholders, as well as the government and citizens of Cap-Haitien and Haiti at large. We are 100% confident that we will be able to locate and recover many items of great historical and economic value and we are anxious to begin operations."
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The Company is engaged in the business of locating and recovering historical shipwrecks, primarily those from the 15th through 19th centuries, and other cultural resources (artifacts and other objects of historical and archaeological interest) from the world's oceans and large lakes by applying advanced technologies in an environmentally responsible manner.
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CONTACT: UnderSea Recovery Corporation
Bobby Goldman, VP - Business Development
212-628-8777
(404) 826-1164
bobby777@rcn.com
P.O. Box 28961
Atlanta, GA 30358

Hotel Online
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The Hotel Villa St. Louis was once a thriving business in Bourdon, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For more than 30 years, the 60-room boutique hotel, a beloved family-run business in the Port-au-Prince community, served as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike, hosting leisure and business travelers, small groups, reunions and weddings. But like many small businesses in the area, the hotel, along with the adjacent St. Louis family residence, was destroyed after collapsing in the earthquake of January 2010, and no insurance proceeds were available to rebuild this once flourishing business.
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Because of the magnitude of the earthquake’s destruction, Port-au-Prince lost more than 50 percent of its hotel room inventory, and the economic impact has been tremendous. Business meetings and conventions have been postponed or moved elsewhere due to the lack of accommodations in the area, resulting in a significant loss of potential income across all industries. But there is hope. A U.S.-based team of experienced hotel operators, designers and architects have come together to help the St. Louis family rebuild its cherished business, leading to hundreds of long-term job opportunities and, ultimately, a revived hospitality sector and economy for the once devastated community of Port-au-Prince.
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With an opening date set for early 2012, the new Hotel Villa St. Louis is positioned to be Port-au-Prince’s first hotel to re-open its doors after being destroyed by the January 2010 earthquake. The new property will be reconstructed upon its original foundation on Avenida John Brown (Avenue Pan Americaine #101). Although the hotel originally consisted of 60 guestrooms and suites, the proposed new development calls for 78 guestrooms and suites, 22 extended stay studio suites and loft apartments, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a comprehensive business center and boutique retail space. Like the original Hotel Villa St. Louis, the new hotel will feature a full-sized restaurant and bar, ample banquet and meeting facilities and a spacious pool. Other modern upgrades will include energy efficient and water saving installations, renewable energy technologies and locally sourced building materials, furniture and décor.
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“The new design takes into account Haiti’s beautiful natural resources and surroundings and also pays tribute to the local culture,” explained Daniel Adache, chairman of Adache Group Architects, the new hotel’s design and architecture firm. “At the same time, we have fully modernized the plans for this hotel, utilizing new technologies to conserve two of our most precious resources: energy and time. For this project, urgency is key, as the community will greatly rely upon a quick reopening to speed up overall recovery.”
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The family looks forward to what this new development will bring to Port-au-Prince, in terms of its impact on both the local economy and the community’s spirit. Their mission is to rebuild an even better hotel where past guests can come to reminisce while new generations can make their own memories and envision an even brighter future for Haiti. As the first hotel to be fully rebuilt and reopened since the January 2010 earthquake, the new Hotel Villa St. Louis looks forward to serving as a leader for the local hospitality industry, providing full-time employment opportunities for many of the currently out-of-work hotel workers.
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The immediate impact of job creation during the design and construction of the new Hotel Villa St. Louis will be significant, providing some 500 to 600 urgently needed employment opportunities. Local consultants, designers and labor workers will also be given preference. An estimated 100 opportunities for employment will be created by Haitian vendors, suppliers and professional service providers, who will support the construction of the project. Additional employment will be created indirectly by purchasing local building materials, artwork and crafts.
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During its initial years of operation, the property will create 100 to 120 full-time permanent employment opportunities. Twenty percent of these roles will be management or supervisory positions. Another 30 part-time employment opportunities will also be available for servicing banquets, meetings and other special events. Operations will also lead to an estimated 100 to 200 indirect work opportunities in related hospitality activities.
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“The redevelopment of the Hotel Villa St. Louis will deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits, all of which will provide a positive impact on the wider community and region,” explained Nikolas Eastwick-Field of NEF & JM Associates, the new hotel’s development management company. “This redevelopment will not only create substantial local employment during construction but also provide direct and indirect job opportunities for Haitian nationals in the immediate and long-term future.”
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Former President Clinton, now UN Special Envoy to Haiti and co-chair of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), in speaking to the Caribbean Investment Conference in San Juan earlier this year, stressed the importance of the hospitality sector in the overall rebuilding process and new job creation for Haiti. “Tourism is critical to the sustained economic growth and sustainability for Haiti’s long-term recovery,” he stated.
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With more than 20 years of experience in the Caribbean, NEF & JM Associates was selected to assist the St. Louis family to rebuild their business by developing a new hotel that would replace and improve upon the destroyed property. NEF & JM Associates will be actively involved in every aspect of the project, from the planning stage through the start of operations, and will manage the hotel for the owner after the project’s completion. Another U.S.-based firm, Adache Group Architects, has been appointed as the project’s architects and engineers. The group’s mission is to design the hotel using modern updates and amenities while taking into consideration the original hotel’s rich history.
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“I began working with the principals of NEF & JM Associates more than 25 years ago when they selected our firm to design some of the most prestigious hotels and resorts in the Caribbean,” explained Adache. “As we continue to work with them today, it never ceases to amaze me how they always seem to get the job done, right and on time. Their knowledge and reputation of the hospitality business is unparalleled.” Both firms looking forward to a strong partnership in helping the St. Louis family, and Haiti, rebuild for a brighter tomorrow.
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NEF & JM Associates is led by experienced hospitality executives with international backgrounds and practice in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Their combined experience has encompassed working in every department of an operating hotel as well as senior positions of increasing responsibility within major international chains in the areas of development, technical assistance, operations and marketing as well as hotel condominium operations. Their Caribbean experience of more than 20 years has included work in Grenada, St. Thomas, Tortola, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Antigua, Aruba, Providenciales, Cancun, the Bahamas and now Haiti. For more information, visit www.nefandjm.com.

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