Inappropriate economic policies and political tensions for a long period of time have led to Haiti’s economic stagnation and continued deficits in international trade. The US is Haiti’s main trading partner in both exports and imports. Haiti’s trade deficit is partly offset by international aid and the remittances from Haitians working overseas. The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti’s inadequate infrastructure make it highly dependant on imports from the US and other nations. Haiti’s international trade accounted for 22.5% of its GDP in 2008.
Haiti Balance of Trade
Traditionally, Haiti has reported high levels of trade deficit due to significant import of food and raw materials. The country, devastated by a series of natural disasters, relies heavily on international aid, both monetary and food. Haiti’s balance of current account stood at -$566 million in 2009, as compared to -$611 million in 2008.
The country’s exports for the year 2009 stood at $524 million, as compared to $490 million. The major items exported by Haiti include apparel, oil, cocoa, coffee and mangoes. Nearly 70% of these exports are destined to the United States with another 9% going to the Dominican Republic and 3% to Canada. Cotton apparel, clothes made from wool and household goods dominate Haiti’s exports to the US.
Haiti’s imports have declined marginally from $2.107 billion in 2008 to $2.023 billion in 2009. Major items being imported by Haiti are food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuel and raw materials. The US is Haiti’s biggest import partner and accounts for over 30% of Haiti’s imports. Haiti’s other import partners are the Dominican Republic at 23.3%, Netherlands Antilles at 10.6% and China at 4.5%, according to the 2008 estimates. Rice and wheat, along with other food items, constitute the main items of import from the US.
Haiti Trade: Relations with the US
Apparel exports play a key role in trade relations between Haiti and the US. The growth of Haiti’s apparel industry and its exports have been driven by the US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act of December 2006. The act provided tariff free access to the US market for certain types of Haitian made apparel and other articles. These preferences have been extended to 2018 by HOPE II, passed in October 2008.