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 is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Haiti, helping to meet the needs of the most vulnerable Haitians through health care, shelter, food, nutrition, water/sanitation, and other relief.
Another pillar of U.S.-Haiti bilateral cooperation is assistance for long-term development and institution building. Priority areas include support for economic growth and poverty reduction, improved healthcare, and food security, respect for human rights, stronger democratic institutions and strengthening the Haitian National Police (HNP) so Haiti can provide its own security, be a stronger partner against transnational crime, and foster long-term stability. To help combat poverty and tackle chronic unemployment, which requires job creation, the United States facilitates bilateral trade with and investment in 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.
For decades, Haiti has faced significant challenges, including natural disasters and environmental shocks as well as multiple political crises. Intensified gang violence and recurring political and civil unrest since July 2018 have severely exacerbated Haiti’s dire economic and humanitarian conditions: unemployment and inflation are high; the national currency is volatile; fuel shortages are recurring and severe; foreign reserves are dangerously low; more than 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and more than four million Haitians face crisis- or emergency-level food insecurity. The proportion of people in Haiti facing acute food insecurity has increased significantly, from 1 in 3 people in 2018 to almost 1 in 2 people in 2022, according to the study “Food security in Central America, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Haiti,” published by the Inter-American Development Bank. In addition to grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7, 2021, and weeks later a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit southern Haiti on August 14. A nearly two-month long gang-led blockage of the nation’s largest fuel terminal from late September to early November 2022 led to a nationwide fuel shortage, shutting down hospitals and water treatment facilities at the same time cholera reemerged for the first time since 2019.
While humanitarian assistance will alleviate some urgent needs, it will not, and cannot, address the root causes of the current economic and political paralysis in Haiti.
Haiti’s transition to a functional democracy is important to the United States. Strong democratic institutions, including holding 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, security, and the rule of law 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 attract needed foreign investment. However, Haiti suffered another setback in its democratic development with the assassination of President Moïse, who had been ruling by decree since Parliament lapsed in January 2020 but was set to leave office February 2022. Prime Minister Ariel Henry became head of government, but Haiti still lacks fully functioning legislative and judicial branches. The October 2019 local and parliamentary elections did not take place as scheduled. The terms of the final 10 senators, who began serving their terms in 2017, will expire on January 9, 2023, leaving no nationally elected officials remaining in Haiti. The twelve-person Supreme Court lost its president to COVID-19 in June 2021, and because of dismissals, retirements and deaths, only three judges remain.
The exacerbation of Haiti’s humanitarian, security, and political crises has also led to an uptick in the outward flow of Haitians from Haiti, a number of whom have attempted to migrate irregularly to the United States. Haitian migrants frequently depart via dangerous land and sea routes facilitated by illegal migrant smuggling networks. The decision to migrate may result in the loss of money, possessions, and even life. As the Biden Administration prepares for the end of Title 42, the United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking these dangerous journeys, by both land and sea, to the United States. Although DHS extended and redesignated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians already residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022, TPS does not apply to individuals without legal basis to enter or remain in the United States. DHS continues to regularly repatriate Haitians who attempt to enter the United States illegally. The United States remains 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 irregular migration and preserving life, the United States works to address the root causes of irregular migration from Haiti by helping to create more economic opportunity for Haitians in their own country.
U.S. Assistance to Haiti
Even before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was among the least developed nations and faced chronic challenges to meaningful poverty reduction. Since the 2010 earthquake, the United States has provided over $5.6 billion for assistance to Haiti to support life-saving post-disaster relief as well as longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs. After the 2021 earthquake, the United States again mobilized a whole-of-government effort to provide immediate assistance at the Haitian government’s request. Against this backdrop, the country’s reconstruction and development will continue for many years. In addition to chronic cycles of poverty, a worsening political and security crisis have exacerbated persistent humanitarian needs in Haiti. Since fiscal year (FY) 2021, the United States, through USAID, has provided nearly $172 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance in response to persistent needs, and more than $106 million in development and health assistance. Highlighted U.S. assistance to Haiti includes:
- U.S. assistance helped over 40 partner financial institutions to disburse over $100 million in loans to over 50,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises, and helped participating SME businesses generate $110 million in sales.
- In the agricultural sector, U.S. assistance has helped 105,000 farmers increase crop yields through improved techniques and seeds, generating nearly $30 million in agricultural sales and $15 million in private sector investments into the agriculture sector.
- In the Water Supply and Sanitation sector, U.S. assistance, in conjunction with the National Potable Water and Sanitation Directorate (DINEPA), has increased access to water services to over 300,000 Haitians since 2018. This assistance has included the provision of fuel to DINEPA water treatment and pumping sites impacted by the Varreux fuel terminal blockage by gangs in October 2021, capacity building for local water distributors to maintain international standards, and public education on personal hygiene.
- The Haitian National Police is stronger, and U.S. assistance has helped increase the HNP to roughly 14,000 officers from less than 10,000 in 2010.
- Thanks to U.S. assistance, more Haitians have access to police services following the construction of six police commissariats. The United States helped the HNP establish a community policing unit geared at gaining public trust and improving community relations. In addition, the role of women within the force has been amplified. This is reflected by the robust recruitment efforts to target more women to make the HNP more gender inclusive.
- 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. Over the past 10 years, infant mortality has remained steady at 59 deaths per 1,000 live births; and under-five mortality has dropped from 88 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births.
- U.S. assistance has helped increase access to basic healthcare through165 hospitals and clinics across the country. Our assistance has increased access to and quality of basic healthcare in those clinics, reaching over 4 million of the most vulnerable among Haiti’s population of 11 million.
- Health infrastructure in Haiti has been strengthened by U.S. assistance which establishedthe national public health reference laboratory and an early warning surveillance system that screens a subset of all biological specimen from 67 hospitals across the country for high-risk contagions.
- U.S. assistance has supported the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in Haiti for the past 10 years, facilitating intensified response training for more than 130 public health leaders and frontline workers. These cadres were first responders for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti, including deployments to all 10 departments and the high-risk border region with the Dominican Republic.
- Under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. assistance has stabilized the HIV prevalence rate in Haiti at about 2 percent since 2008. U.S. assistance offers life-saving antiretroviral treatment to 91 percent (128,000) of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and has helped Haiti to adopt innovative drug distribution and dispensing methods and limit unnecessary COVID-19 risk exposure to PLHIV. These methods include multi-month dispensing, community drug distribution, group services such as psycho-social support groups, and mothers’ clubs implemented remotely online or by phone.
- The U.S. government contributed funding towards a solar energy program, initiated by the Inter-American Development Bank, for the construction of two solar power plants in northern Haiti. These plants aim to provide an increased supply of sustainable and affordable renewable energy in the region. These plants will help expand support to energy grids being serviced by the existing U.S.-funded 10-megawatt thermal power plant that provides 24/7 electricity to five industrial clients operating 14 factories inside the Caracol Industrial Park and more than 14,000 households and businesses in five neighboring communities.
- Under the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, the United States will implement a 10-year plan that prioritizes partnering with Haiti and takes a long-term view to address drivers of instability and conflict. This includes a targeted approach to foster stability in the most severely affected communities – identified through analysis and field-based consultations – while also gradually addressing the underlying drivers of conflict, instability, and violence and mitigating the impact of future environmental shocks.
- The United States provided technical assistance to the Superior Judiciary Council (CSPJ), the institution in charge of the management, oversight, and evaluation of judiciary members. The CSPJ has since vetted 44 judges and prosecutors to ascertain if they have the moral and professional integrity to serve in the justice system. Through this system a total of 25 judges and prosecutors were approved; helping renew accountability of judicial members and build public trust in the justice sector.
- To address a lack of transparency within the court system, the United States supported the installation of a digitized Case Management Information System (CMIS) to reduce Haiti’s prolonged pretrial detention. This system permits chief judges and chief prosecutors to monitor case processing time enabling improved transparency and accountability in case recording and processing. The system is now operational in 13 jurisdictions, including two new locations. Approximately 5,320 cases were entered in the system this year for nearly 46,800 cases.
- The United States is improving transparency, oversight, and accountability of local government actors and institutions by increasing public involvement at the commune-level investment and development planning process. During FY 2021, USAID’s Community Driven Development activity helped 15 communes create municipal investment plans with local stakeholders by working to reach consensus on the prioritization of projects to be implemented and on long-term strategic planning in the targeted communes.
For more information on the strategy and budget, please visit: https://www.state.gov/haiti-reports/.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Since 2011, the Government of Haiti has emphasized encouraging foreign investment and developing private-led, market-based economic growth. The Haitian government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has articulated a commitment to improve the business environment and attract foreign investors. However, recurring fuel shortages and the Haitian government’s unilateral actions to stop payment on, and cancel contracts with, independent power producers have slowed investment. U.S. companies considering investing in Haiti’s energy sector have expressed concern about the Haitian government’s lack of adherence to its contractual obligations and capacity to provide security.
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. Nevertheless, overall costs to start and operate a new business in Haiti remain high, and 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. International Development Finance Corporation to offer programs in Haiti.
The United States is Haiti’s largest trading partner. A 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.
Grinding poverty remains a challenge for the Haitian people, the government, and the international donor community. Three-quarters of the population lives on approximately $2.41 per day; the poorest live in extreme poverty, surviving on only $1.23 per day. In July 2021, 36 percent of individuals who had been working in February 2020 were no longer employed. Among the employed, about 86 percent reported being informally employed. Private transfers (remittances) to Haiti amount to over $4.7 billion per year, equivalent to about 22 percent of GDP in 2021; and a large percentage of these funds are used for consumption of imported goods and basic household support (e.g., education, health, nutrition)
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 the subheadings of Market Intelligence and 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 II 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 II and HELP Acts have been instrumental in the redevelopment of Haiti’s apparel industry which accounts for over 80 percent of national export earnings and around 10 percent of GDP (2020).
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.
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:
CIA World Factbook Haiti Page
USAID Haiti Page
History of U.S. Bilateral Relations
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