U.S. Relations With Haiti

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
March 16, 2018


More information about Haiti is available on the Haiti Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

When Haiti is more prosperous, secure, and firmly rooted in democracy, Haitians and Americans benefit. U.S. policy toward this close neighbor is designed to foster the institutions and infrastructure necessary to achieve strong democratic foundations and meaningful poverty reduction through sustainable development. The United States provides substantial humanitarian assistance so the most vulnerable Haitians can better meet their basic needs in health and nutrition. Assistance for long-term development and institution building is another pillar of U.S.-Haiti bilateral cooperation. Priority areas include support for economic growth and poverty reduction, improved healthcare and food security, promoting respect for human rights, building stronger democratic institutions, and strengthening the Haitian National Police (HNP) so that Haiti provides its own security and can be a stronger partner against international crime. Because poverty reduction and tackling chronic unemployment require job creation, the United States helps facilitate bilateral trade and investment with Haiti. The large Haitian diaspora in the United States is a potentially powerful ally in the effort to expand business opportunities and build on the many links that unite Haitians and Americans.

Much progress has been made in the eight years after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated much of the country. Haiti has transitioned from a post-disaster era to a period of reconstruction and long-term development. As of December 2016, approximately 97 percent of the 1.5 million displaced persons in camps had departed for alternative housing arrangements. Thousands of needed jobs have been created in Haiti’s growing export apparel sector. Since 2011, Haiti has achieved positive annual growth rates, including 5.5 percent in 2011 and 2.8 percent in 2014. With U.S. and international support, Haiti has achieved significant improvements in basic health indicators and seen a steady and substantial decrease in the number of cholera cases since the initial outbreak in 2010.

Haiti’s transition to a strong democracy is important to the United States as the country’s authoritarian history becomes increasingly part of its past rather than its future. Strong democratic institutions, in particular the holding of regular free and fair elections, can help guarantee Haiti’s democratic traditions and ensure a voice for the Haitian people in their governance. Haiti now has a democratically elected president who took office on February 7, 2017. A commitment to democracy and the rule of law also ensures that human rights and fundamental freedoms are better protected. The stability and predictability that come with these institutions are essential for Haiti to achieve sustained economic growth and to attract needed foreign investment.

While Haiti has made progress in many areas, much remains to be done to sustain and build on this progress. The growth of Haiti’s economy slowed to below 2 percent in 2015 and 2016 as political uncertainty, drought conditions, decreasing foreign aid, and the depreciation of the national currency took a toll on public and private investment. Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, made landfall on Haiti on October 4, 2016 with 140 mile-per-hour winds, creating a new humanitarian emergency. An estimated 2.1 million people were affected by the Category 4 storm which caused extensive damage to crops, houses, livestock, and infrastructure across Haiti’s southern peninsula. The slowing of Haiti’s economy continued in 2017, with growth around 1.2 percent, partly due to the economic impact of Hurricane Matthew. The IMF predicts nearly 3 percent growth for 2018, a marked improvement from the last couple of years but still nowhere near the sustained 7-8 percent annual growth needed for the Haitian economy to keep up with population growth. With a new government, the country can continue to develop and coalesce around a comprehensive agenda and address the ongoing challenges the country faces.

Despite measured improvements in Haiti since 2010, a number of Haitians continue to attempt to migrate illegally to the United States. These irregular migrant flows, often over dangerous land and sea routes, are often facilitated through illegal smuggling networks, and frequently result in the loss of money, possessions, and life. The United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking dangerous journeys, both by land and sea, to the United States. In an effort to dissuade illegal migration attempts to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on September 22, 2016 to resume regular removals of Haitians who enter the United States illegally. The United States is also committed to apprehending and prosecuting the human smugglers who profit by organizing and carrying out illegal sea voyages and land movements. In addition to deterring illegal migration and preserving life, the United States works to address the root causes of illegal migration from Haiti by helping to create more economic opportunity for Haitians in their own country.

U.S. Assistance to Haiti

Since the earthquake, the United States has made available over $5.1 billion for assistance to Haiti to support life-saving post-disaster relief as well as longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was among the least developed nations and faced chronic challenges to meaningful poverty reduction. Against this background, the country’s reconstruction and development will continue for many years. Also, U.S. security and rule of law assistance in Haiti is grounded in supporting the Haitian National Police to achieve its development goals to improve the force’s capacity and grow its ranks in order to better serve and protect the Haitian people. Since the 2010 earthquake, U.S. assistance to the police school and HNP leadership helped increase the HNP force to 15,000 officers at the end of 2017, and helped enhance the capacity of the HNP's special units.

Highlights of results of U.S. assistance to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake include:

  • With U.S. assistance, almost 13,000 jobs have been created, largely in the apparel industry at the Caracol Industrial Park (in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Haitian government, and the private sector) in Haiti’s north.
  • U.S. assistance has helped create approximately 4,000 jobs in 2017 and almost 20,000 jobs since 2011 through our Local Enterprise and Value Chain Enhancement (LEVE) and Leveraging Effective Application of Direct Investments (LEAD) projects.
  • In the agricultural sector, U.S. assistance has helped 70,000 farmers increase crop yields. The U.S. government has also introduced improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, and other technologies to more than 118,000 farmers through food security programs.
  • The Haitian National Police is stronger and U.S. assistance has helped increase the HNP to 15,000 officers.
  • More Haitians have access to police services following the construction of new police commissariats built in areas not previously serviced by the police.
  • U.S. assistance has contributed to measured improvements in basic health indicators, including child nutrition and mortality, improved access to maternal healthcare, and the containment of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  • U.S. assistance has helped increase access to basic healthcare in 164 clinics across the country. In 2017, our clinics helped more than 72,000 children become fully immunized and 19,000 pregnant women have safe deliveries.
  • The U.S. government funded the construction of a 10 megawatt (MW) power plant in northern Haiti. This power plant provides 24/7 electricity to the Caracol Industrial Park, and in five communes surrounding the park. To date, more than 11,000 households, businesses, and government institutions have been properly connected with meters to the power grid.

For more information on the strategy and budget see: https://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/ha/index.htm.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Since 2011, the Haitian Government has emphasized encouraging foreign investment and developing private-led market-based economic growth. President Moise campaigned on a platform of economic development, innovation, energy reform, and universal education. The Government of Haiti encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has articulated a commitment to improve the business environment and attract foreign investors. Haiti’s Center of Investment Facilitation aims to facilitate and promote investment in the local economy by reducing administrative delays, streamlining the creation of enterprises, and facilitating the provision of inducements. However, overall costs to start and operate a new business in Haiti remain high; access to credit as well as structures for investor protection are still insufficient. The United States and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti.

The United States is Haiti's largest trading partner. A growing number of U.S. firms maintain operations in Haiti, including commercial banks, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants. Opportunities for U.S. businesses in Haiti include light manufacturing, in particular textile and clothing production; the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; building and modernizing Haiti's infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors such as arts and crafts; business process outsourcing; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations.

Meaningful poverty reduction in Haiti will depend on job creation through economic activity and foreign investment. Toward that end, the United States promotes needed reforms in Haiti to make it easier and more predictable for businesses to operate and to create the kind of stable environment needed for investors.

Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov under market intelligence, Country Commercial Guides.

U.S. Trade Preferences for Haiti

Both Haitian and American importers and exporters can benefit under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act – the successor program of the Caribbean Basin Initiative – that provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials. The 2008 Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act and the 2010 Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP legislation) provide duty-free preferences for certain light-manufacturing products produced in Haiti, in particular apparel products. The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 extended trade benefits provided to Haiti in the HOPE and HELP Acts through September 2025. Haitian apparel factories eligible for duty-free entry into the United States under HOPE II and HELP must comply with international core labor standards and Haitian labor law. The HOPE and HELP Acts have been instrumental in the redevelopment of Haiti’s apparel industry which accounts for over 90 percent of national export earnings and provides over 45,000 jobs (2017).

Haiti's Membership in International Organizations

Haiti and the United States are partners in promoting core values such as democracy, respect for human rights, and economic development both in the region and around the world. Both nations belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States (OAS), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and World Trade Organization (WTO). The United States works closely with the OAS, UN, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to advance its policy goals in Haiti.

Bilateral Representation

Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Haiti maintains an embassy in the United States at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).

More information about Haiti is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Haiti Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Haiti Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Haiti Page
History of U.S. Bilateral Relations
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel Information