There is strong investor interest in Haiti that could generate 380,000 jobs by 2030. With abundant affordable labor and close proximity to the U.S., Haiti possesses good potential to capture new investments in the apparel, agri-business, construction/building materials, logistics, and tourism sectors in the near term, while transitioning over time to other higher-value industries and services. With highly favorable trade access for apparel products under the U.S. Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, both existing and potential new apparel manufacturers in Haiti are well-positioned to capture a greater share of U.S. market demand, delivering up to an additional 35 million dozen knit products (cotton t-shirts, bottoms, and tops) and 80 million woven products (basic chinos, jeans, and uniforms) each year to U.S. buyers at competitive prices. Based on an analysis of demand, over 2,000 hectares (ha) of serviced land will be needed for apparel, agri-business, construction/building materials, logistics and warehousing (including cold storage), tourism, and residential investors over the next 20 years.
However, a variety of market, legal, regulatory, and institutional constraints continue to impede the realization of this potential that is vital to Haiti’s economic growth. In this context, Integrated Economic Zones (IEZs)1 can facilitate these investment opportunities by providing a precise, targeted, and quickly implementable framework to address these constraints. IEZs can provide serviced land, pre-built facilities, reliable utilities, and a streamlined business environment through transparent procedures and a “one-stop” shop approach. They can also act as platforms to develop clusters and growth poles to energize private sector activity around them. With effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approaches, the private-sector could fund IEZs, which can become flexible market-driven platforms to deliver site-specific infrastructure needs for industrial, residential, and tourism uses across Haiti in line with the GoH’s Reconstruction and Development Goals. A number of other countries have done this elsewhere with significant results (e.g., Jebel Ali in Dubai, Aqaba in Jordan, Subic Bay in the Philippines, Panamá Pacífico in Panamá, zones in the Dominican Republic (DR) and Mexico (Maquiladoras), and a number of IEZs on the eastern seaboard of China). Lessons learned from these countries can be applied in Haiti to catalyze investment generation and growth.