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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Plus 1 for Haiti

Recently, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles and Apparel Gail Strickler traveled to Haiti to participate in the Haiti Buyer’s Forum, and to promote the United States’ “Plus 1 for Haiti” trade preference program. This week’s trade spotlight follows-up on the Plus 1 program.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Gail Strickler visited Haiti earlier this month to speak at the Haiti Buyer’s Forum, hosted by Better Work, an International Labor Organization initiative. She encouraged further utilization of U.S. preference programs with Haiti, and addressed the upcoming “Sourcing in the Americas” Pavilion and Summit at MAGIC, the largest apparel trade event in the United States, where Haitian producers will be highlighted in a special USAID-supported Haiti Pavilion showcasing Haitian apparel manufacturing capabilities.

“Plus 1 for Haiti” was launched shortly after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January 2010. The program encourages American brands and retailers to work toward sourcing one percent of their total apparel purchases from Haiti. Since “Plus 1 for Haiti” began, Haiti’s apparel industry has consistently grown - increasing textile exports and attracting new business and investments. The program builds on the ongoing, collaborative effort between USTR and American retailers to expand exports from Haiti through utilization of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II).

HOPE II allows duty-free access to the U.S. market for Haitian-made apparel and other textile articles in order to foster stability and economic development in Haiti. U.S. brands and retailers have the opportunity to use existing HOPE II duty-free access for Haitian-made apparel. Pledges by brands and retailers to buy more from Haiti helps ensure that Haitian factories are fully operational as soon as possible. Currently, Jos. A. Bank, Levi's, Fishman and Tobin, Hanesbrands, and Gildan are meeting the goal of one-percent sourcing, with new factories under construction.

Before the earthquake, the apparel industry in Haiti employed 25,000 people. Today, despite the disaster, the industry has expanded to 29,000 Haitians. Further, a new 623-acre textile industrial park is currently underway and is estimated to support 65,000 additional jobs once it is fully developed. This would increase those employed in the Haitian garment industry by 200 percent. The industrial park is being built as a joint effort between the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the Haitian government, and the U.S. government.

In 2010, the U.S. imported $551 million worth of goods from Haiti, of which 94 percent was knit and woven apparel.

The U.S. textile and apparel industry employs 394,000 workers. In 2010, the U.S. exported a total of $19.7 billion worth of textiles and apparel, with exports up 19 percent as of April 2011.