U.S. emphasizes commitment to Haiti rebuild
A senior U.S. Commerce Department official urged the private sector of the United States, Dominican Republic and Haiti to develop stronger economic relationships as a way to support rebuilding Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
'Over the past few months, I have been traveling across the United States to help encourage U.S. businesses and the Haitian Diaspora to help in Haiti's recovery,' Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, told more than 400 corporate attendees from the United States, Dominican Republic and Haiti at the 'Building a New Haiti: Commerce, Business, Investment' conference in Montrouis, Haiti, on Thursday.
The two-day conference is designed to explain to businesses what the Commerce Department and the Obama administration have been doing to assist Haiti in its post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.
Specifically, the U.S. government is working with Haiti to help create jobs and economic stability. On May 7, Congress passed the Haiti Economic Lift Program, known as HELP, that significantly extends existing trade benefits for Haitian textiles and apparel until 2020.
The apparel sector has the greatest potential to generate jobs relatively quickly and boost Haiti's economic recovery and is a critical component of the Haitian economy, constituting more than 80 percent of Haitian exports to the United States and employing more than 25,000 workers, the Commerce Department noted. On May 28, Locke met with representatives from major U.S. apparel importers and retailers to discuss trade benefits created by the HELP legislation.
'With the passage of HELP, Haiti's apparel sector represents a major opportunity for export-led growth and job creation,' Wade said. 'However, to turn these opportunities into tangible growth and jobs, we need strong private sector involvement.'