FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 10, 2010
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Senior Commerce Official Stresses U.S. Public and Private Sector Commitment to Rebuilding Haiti
Haiti Conterence is first meeting of U.S. Haitian and Dominican companies since the eqrthquake
More than 400 companies from the United States, Haiti and the Dominican Republic attended the “Building a New Haiti: Commerce, Business, Investment” conference in Montrouis today – the first meeting to bring companies from all three countries together since the January 12th earthquake. Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, kicked off the two-day conference discussing what the Commerce Department and the Obama administration have been doing to assist Haiti in its post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.
“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,” Wade said. “In Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Miami and Philadelphia, I’ve seen up close the intense devotion that Haitians living in America have for their home country. This conference is a culmination of those efforts; we’re on the ground here in Haiti to identify the areas of need and the opportunities for cooperation.”
In his remarks, Wade discussed the need to help Haiti diversify its economy in agriculture, tourism and other sectors to ensure stronger, more sustainable growth in the future. He also underlined the need for the private sectors of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the United States to develop stronger economic relationships.
The U.S. government is working to assist Haiti’s development by helping to create an environment that fosters job creation 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. On May 28, Locke met with representatives from key U.S. apparel importers and retailers to discuss the 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.”
Co-sponsored by the American Chambers of Commerce in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service office in the Dominican Republic, the conference continues through Friday with discussions titled “Private Sector Vision for a New Haiti: Challenges and Opportunities,” “Financing Private Sector-Led Growth,” and “Strengthening Small and Medium Sized Businesses,” followed by networking and breakout sessions.