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With an estimated 40 percent of Haitians unemployed, job creation is key to poverty reduction. The U.S. Government is helping the Haitian government in its goal to create jobs by increasing domestic investment and attracting foreign direct investment. In the early 1980s, the garment sector in Haiti was a significant source of employment. But since then, employment in the sector had dropped dramatically due to embargoes, instability, and lack of investment. Today, however, Haiti’s garment sector is re-emerging as a source of needed employment, thanks in part to U.S. trade preferences enacted through the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE), HOPE II, and Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010 (HELP) legislation, which have made Haiti a more attractive place to invest. As a result, the apparel industry has created jobs for more than 35,000 Haitians and is growing.
Caracol Industrial Park
In its 2010 National Action Plan, the Government of Haiti prioritized the creation of centers of economic development outside of Port-au-Prince to spur economic growth and bring jobs to underserved regions. The Caracol Industrial Park (CIP) is an important step toward achieving this goal by creating a new source of investment and job creation in Haiti’s northern region. The CIP is a mixed-use light manufacturing facility that began operating in 2012 in the commune of Caracol. At 246 hectares, it is one of the largest and most modern facilities of its kind in the Caribbean. Owned by the Government of Haiti, the CIP is managed by the National Society of Industrial Parks (SONAPI) under Haiti’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Conceived as a public-private partnership, it was constructed with the support of the Government of Haiti, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Government, and Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd.― Korea’s leading garment manufacturer and the park’s anchor corporate tenant.
U.S. Government Support
To support the Government of Haiti’s plan to strengthen economic development and bring jobs to the underserved northern region of Haiti, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), supported Caracol by funding the construction of a 10-megawatt power plant to provide reliable electricity to the park. USAID is also supporting the plant’s operations and maintenance over three years. The power plant also allows for opportunities to expand reliable electricity to communities beyond the CIP. USAID is currently supporting a program to provide reliable electricity distribution to four nearby communities: Caracol, Trou du Nord, Terrier Rouge, and Limonade. As of October 2014, more than 8,600 households, businesses, and government institutions had been connected to the power grid, and more connections are expected in the coming months. The U.S. Department of State is currently considering additional support for the construction of new factory buildings located within the CIP.
USAID also supported various communications campaigns as well as rehabilitated clinics, community centers, libraries, and sports fields to benefit thousands of people in surrounding communities. USAID supported the construction of the nearby Caracol-EKAM permanent shelter site to help integrate the local community into the development of the park. USAID also assisted with security for the park’s perimeter and supported skills training for industrial sewing workers.
Since its opening in 2012, employment at the CIP has increased steadily as the park expands, from 1,200 jobs in the first year of operation to 6,200 as of April 2015. More jobs are expected to come online as the facility expands further. The first phase of construction – 88,000 square meters – was completed in April 2015, and the second is currently underway. The largest complex of its kind in the Caribbean, the CIP can eventually expand to nearly one million square meters. When eventually operating at full capacity, which could take up to ten years, the CIP could generate up to 65,000 jobs.
Last updated: May 13, 2015