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: 6/26/2017

Haiti’s economic growth moderately slowed in 2016, with real GDP valued at $8.2 billion.  According to the World Bank, the economy grew by 1.4 percent, a deceleration compared to Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 when the economy grew at a rate of 1.7 percent.  The deceleration is attributed to the 2015 and 2016 political crisis, a volatile exchange rate, the reduction of international aid, and the October passage of Hurricane Matthew, which devastated agricultural production in the Southern part of Haiti.  The World Bank estimated damages at $1.9 billion, including an estimated loss of $600 million in the agricultural and fishing sectors alone.
Haiti’s total imports reached $4.18 billion during FY 2016, while total exports were only valued at $1.6 billion.   Imports represent more than 70 percent of goods sold on the market. Apparel ($848.87 million), essential oils ($23.71 million), edible fruits and nuts ($19.14 million) and seafood ($ 8.48 million) are among the top exports.  The United States continues to be Haiti’s top trading partner, with approximately $2 billion in trade between the two nations in 2016.
During FY 2017, the World Bank expects growth to accelerate to between 2 and 3 percent.  As of December 2016, weak domestic production, a chronic budget deficit, and the depreciation of Haitian Gourde against the USD, resulted in annualized consumer price inflation of 14.3 percent.

Although the business climate is challenging, Haiti is one of the most open economies in the Caribbean region.  Haiti's legislation encourages foreign direct investment. The Haitian investment code provides the same rights, privileges and equal protection to local and foreign companies.  Import and export policies are non-discriminatory and are not based on nationality. 

The administration of President Jovenal Moise, who was inaugurated in February 2017, has designated agriculture, construction, and manufacturing as key investment sectors, and supports sector-focused investment promotion. The Haitian garment sector, through the HOPE/HELP legislation, continues to perform well with exports to the U.S. totaling $848.87 million in 2016.  With the extension of HOPE/HELP through 2025 and the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), 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 30 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.

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