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. 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, promoting respect for human rights, building stronger democratic institutions, and strengthening the Haitian National Police (HNP) so that Haiti can provide its own security and 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.
Progress has been made in the ten years since the January 2010 earthquake that left much of the country devastated. With U.S. and international support, Haiti has achieved significant improvements in basic health indicators, including the critical milestone of zero laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera in Haiti for the past nine months. More than 27,000 jobs have been created via programs to improve private sector competitiveness, and almost 14,000 jobs have been created at the Caracol Industrial Park, thanks in part to Haiti’s growing export apparel sector and trade preference programs for Haitian-made textiles and apparel.
Nonetheless, Haiti continues to face many challenges. Recurring political and civil unrest since July 2018 and protracted violent protests since mid-September 2019 have severely exacerbated Haiti’s dire economic challenges: unemployment is high and rising; inflation has reached 20 percent; the currency has depreciated 30 percent in the last two years; fuel shortages are recurring; foreign reserves are dangerously low; local and international businesses are shuttering and laying off workers; about two-thirds of the population live in poverty, and one-third face crisis- or emergency-level food insecurity.
Following Article IV consultations with the Government of Haiti in December 2019, the International Monetary Fund lowered its prediction for economic growth to -1.2 percent for FY 2019. On December 16, in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Haiti and requests for international assistance from the Government of Haiti and United Nations partners, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti declared a disaster due to the complex emergency in Haiti. In response, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is providing one million dollars through the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to support the transportation of humanitarian commodities and staff for immediate relief efforts. Additionally, in November, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) authorized the distribution of 2,000 metric tons of emergency food commodities through WFP to address the food needs of vulnerable households. In addition, in fiscal year 2019, FFP provided $20 million to support food assistance and resilience-building activities to mitigate and recover from shocks. While humanitarian assistance will help 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 strong democracy is important to the United States. 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. Currently, Haiti has a democratically elected president who took office on February 7, 2017; however, October 2019 local and parliamentary elections did not take place as scheduled. Parliament is expected to lapse in early January 2020, and, absent a political accord, the president will rule by decree. A commitment to democracy 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.
The exacerbation of Haiti’s humanitarian crisis has also led to an uptick in the outward flow of Haitians from Haiti, a number of whom attempt to migrate illegally to the United States. These irregular migrant flows, frequently over dangerous land and sea routes, are often facilitated through illegal smuggling networks, and many result in the loss of money, possessions, and life. The United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking dangerous journeys, by both land and sea, to the United States. In 2016, in an effort to dissuade illegal migration attempts to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security resumed 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. U.S. security and rule of law assistance in Haiti is grounded in supporting the Haitian National Police (HNP) 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 has helped increase the HNP force to more than 15,300 officers at the end of 2019 and has 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 14,000 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.
- S. assistance has helped create over 27,000 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 more than 15,300 officers.
- More Haitians have access to police services following the construction of new police commissariats built in areas not previously serviced by the police.
- 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.
- S. assistance has helped increase access to basic healthcare in 164 clinics across the country.In 2019 alone, more than 73,000 children were fully vaccinated, 24,500 births were attended by skilled providers, and over 40,000 women accessed antenatal care.
- The U.S. government funded the construction of a 10-megawatt power plant in northern This power plant provides 24/7 electricity to the Caracol Industrial Park and to five communes surrounding the park. To date, more than 14,000 households, businesses, and government institutions have been properly connected with meters to the power grid.
- Under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. government interventions have helped maintain the HIV prevalence rate at 2 percent for the past decade. Currently, PEPFAR supports more than 90,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Haiti.
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. President Moïse campaigned on a platform of economic development, innovation, energy reform, and universal education. 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 begun to discourage 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.
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. Remittances to Haiti amount to over $2.5 billion per year, equivalent to nearly one-third of GDP in 2018; however, 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 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 50,000 jobs (2019).
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