U.S. Relations With Haiti
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.
Haiti is a U.S. policy priority. When this close neighbor is more prosperous, secure, and firmly rooted in democracy, Haitians and Americans benefit. U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster the institutions and infrastructure necessary for it to achieve strong democratic foundations and meaningful poverty reduction through sustainable development. The United States provides substantial humanitarian assistance so that the most vulnerable Haitians can better meet their basic needs in health and nutrition. Assistance for longer-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 expanding the Haitian National Police so that Haiti can better provide for its own security and be an effective partner against international crime. Because poverty reduction and tackling chronic unemployment require job creation, the United States facilitates 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.
Six years after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated much of the country, Haiti has transitioned from a post-disaster era to a period of building and long-term development. As of January 2015, more than 95 percent of the 1.5 million displaced persons in camps have found alternative housing. Nearly all earthquake debris that obstructed recovery has been removed. Thousands of needed jobs are being created in Haiti’s growing export apparel sector. Since 2011 Haiti has achieved positive annual growth rates, including 2.9 percent in 2014. With U.S. and international support, Haiti has seen a steady and substantial decrease in the number of cholera cases since the initial outbreak in 2010. Much remains to be done to sustain and build on this progress. Since the earthquake, the United States has made available more than $4.5 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.
Haiti’s transition to a strong democracy is important to the United States as that 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. A commitment to democracy and the rule of law can also ensure 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.
The United States and Haiti share close people-to-people ties. Each year, tens of thousands of Haitians travel to the United States to conduct business, attend school, visit family and friends, or to become permanent residents through legal immigration. Following the 2010 earthquake, the United States granted temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians living in the United States. TPS still applies to Haitians who have continuously resided in the United States since January 12, 2011. In 2014 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program that will allow certain eligible Haitians with already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions an opportunity to enter the United States up to two years in advance of their visa eligibility dates. This program is estimated to be available to approximately 5,000 eligible Haitians per year and will promote safe, orderly, legal immigration to the United States and give participants the opportunity to support Haiti through remittances. Despite measured improvements in Haiti since 2010, each year a number of Haitians attempt dangerous illegal sea migrations. Such voyages on unseaworthy, ill-equipped, and overcrowded vessels are extremely dangerous and have resulted in the capsizing of boats and the death of many Haitians. The United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking these risky voyages. The United States is also committed to apprehending and prosecuting the human smugglers who profit by organizing and carrying out these illegal sea voyages. In addition to deterring illegal migration and preserving life at sea, the United States works every day 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
Haiti’s long-term development is a priority for the United States. To advance this important objective, the United States developed a comprehensive strategy in consultation with the Haitian Government. U.S. programs focus on three geographic development corridors: a) Port-au-Prince, b) Saint Marc and c) Cap Haitien. The St. Marc and Cap Haitien corridors support an important Government of Haiti objective – to create centers of economic activity outside the overcrowded capital of Port-au-Prince. U.S. assistance invests in four sectorial pillars: 1) Infrastructure and Energy, 2) Food and Economic Security, 3) Health and Other Basic Services, and 4) Governance and Rule of Law. Highlights of results of U.S. assistance to Haiti four years after the earthquake include:
- Some 328,000 displaced Haitians housed,
- 2.7 million cubic meters of rubble removed,
- 6,000 jobs created at the Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti’s north,
- 70,000 Haitian farmers have higher crop yields and incomes,
- A new 10 megawatt power plant is providing electricity in the north,
- The Haitian National Police is stronger with the addition of more than 3,000 new officers,
- More Haitians have access to police services as a result of new police commissariats built in areas not previously serviced by the police,
- Provided more than 23,000 children and 770 teachers with innovative reading curricula that meet international standards for literacy instruction,
- Many basic health indicators, including child nutrition and mortality and HIV/AIDS, are improving.
For more information on the strategy and budget see: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/hsc.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Since 2011, the Haitian Government has emphasized encouraging foreign investment and developing private-led market-based economic growth. Haiti encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has stated a commitment to improve the business environment and attract foreign investors. Its Center of Investment Facilitation (CFI) 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. Private investment reached a ten-year high in 2013, outpacing foreign assistance spending in Haiti by more than 100 percent. However, overall costs to start 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 (OPIC) to offer programs in Haiti.
The United States is Haiti's largest trading partner. A growing number of U.S. firms have 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; 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 opportunities, market research, 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 textile and apparel products. Haitian textile and garment 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 some 90 percent of national export earnings and provides approximately 30,000 jobs (2013).
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, particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to advance its policy goals in Haiti.
The U.S. Ambassador to Haiti is Peter F. Mulrean.
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
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Haiti Page
U.S. Embassy: Haiti
USAID Haiti Page
History of U.S. Bilateral Relations
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Department of State Haiti Travel Information