Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 2/14/2019
Haiti is one of the most open economies in the Caribbean with a number of sectors that are seeking foreign direct investment. Although the business climate is challenging, Haiti's legislation encourages foreign direct investment and the Haitian investment code provides the same rights, privileges, and equal protection to local and foreign companies. The  Government  of  Haiti  provides  two  types  of  incentives  for  foreign  investment: customs duty  incentives  and  income  tax  incentives.  Import and export policies are non-discriminatory and are not based on nationality.     

President Jovenel Moïse has designated agriculture, energy, transportation, and water as key investment sectors and announced his “Seven Priority Axes” for development in Haiti.  The seven axes are:
  • Reform the state apparatus and maintain political and social stability,
  • Transform Haiti into an investment destination,
  • Increase agricultural production and improve the environment,
  • Build energy, transportation, and port infrastructure,
  • Reinforce water and sanitation infrastructure,
  • Improve the infrastructure and quality of the education system,
  • Promote stability through social projects.
The United States is one of Haiti’s top trading partners.  In 2017, imports from the United States represented 24 percent of Haiti’s total imports with approximately $2 billion in trade between the two nations in 2017.  

The Haitian garment sector, through the HOPE/HELP legislation, continues to perform well with exports to the U.S. totaling $960.1 million in 2017. With the extension of HOPE/HELP through 2025, Haiti’s garment sector remains of interest to large-scale manufacturing operations. U.S. companies should consider exporting to Haiti for the following reasons: 
  • The Haitian economy is one of the most open economies in the Caribbean.
  • Haiti offers great proximity to the U.S. and most Haitian businesspeople speak fluent English.
  • Haiti has preferential access to major markets including Canada, the U.S., and the European Union.
  • U.S. imports represent over 24 percent of total imports.
  • Four major international security-certified ports - Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, Lafito, and St. Marc – provide maritime access to Haiti.
  • Two international airports offer multiple daily flights between Haiti and the United States. The one in the northern city of Cap-Haitien facilitates commercial and cultural ties between Haiti’s second city and the United States. It also provides quick access to the CARACOL and CODEVI industrial parks located in free zones in the northeastern region of Haiti. 
  • There are few government controls or subsidies. 
Haiti’s total imports reached $4.392 billion during FY 2017, while total exports were only valued at $960.1 million. Imports represent more than 70 percent of goods sold on the market. The top exports are:
  • Apparel ($833.95 million),
  • Essential oils ($28.27 million),
  • Fruits and nuts ($1.4 million), and
  • Seafood ($6.99 million).  
The transport, telecommunications and oil sectors attract most of the investors.  More recently, construction, textile, and the manufacture of automotive components have also attracted foreign investment.
Haiti’s economic growth moderately slowed in 2017:

Haiti’s real GDP is valued at $8.41 billion. 
The total population is 10.98 million and the per capita GDP is $765.93. 
According to the World Bank, the Haitian economy grew by 1.8 percent in 2017 as of the third trimester of the fiscal year, compared to Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 when the economy grew at a rate of 1.17 percent.  This growth is attributed partly to: 
The 8 percent increase in salaries and wages in public administration, 
The 15 percent increase in the private sector, 
While investment, the other component of aggregate demand, also contributed to the improvement of growth, which reached $92 million, a 0.9 percent increase. 

This increase reflects, among other things, the contribution of foreign direct investment which increased significantly compared to FY 2017, as well as the increase in loans granted by banking institutions in the private sector.
Public expenditures increased to rebuild critical infrastructure after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the 2017 hurricane season. Resource mobilization continues to be a challenge with internal revenues only reaching 12.9 percent of the GDP. In addition, although in 2017  Hurricanes Irma and Maria were less damaging than 2016 Hurricane Matthew and caused agricultural output to fall by 5.1 percent over the first half of the fiscal year, sector production increased by 0.8 percent by the end of the year.
Haiti has taken significant steps to prepare for inevitable natural disasters. While the recent storms Irma and Maria skirted the island of Hispaniola, initial assessments showed that the Government was better prepared and had incorporated lessons learned from the experience with Hurricane Matthew.
During FY 2018, the World Bank expects growth to accelerate to 2 percent. As of December 2017, Haiti experience an annualized consumer price inflation of 13 percent. The inflation is attributed to:
  • Weak domestic production,
  • Chronic budget deficit,
  • Depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the USD.
The depreciation of the Haitian gourde against the dollar continues, decreasing from an average of 62.85 gourdes to one U.S. dollar in October 2017 to 67.45 gourdes by June 2018.
In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2017-2018, the Central Bank noted a slowdown in the rate of inflation despite the relatively high level of monetary financing resulting from the sharp increase in public spending compared to state revenue.

At the external sector level, data for the beginning of the second quarter of fiscal year 2018 indicates a deterioration in the trade balance, and an increase in private transfers received from abroad. For the first four months of the year, the trade deficit reached $1.03 billion, an increase of 26.78 percent over the same period last year. This increase in the trade deficit is due to higher imports compared to exports. For the period under review, imports grew by 24.06 percent to $1.36 billion and exports grew by 16.24 percent to $350.50 million.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Haiti Trade Development and Promotion