Haiti’s manufacturing industry has experienced a decline since the 1980s, due in part to the fact that the domestic market is small and the buying elite prefers imported goods.
The military regime in the early 1990s and the UN sanctions in 1994 led to the closure of most foreign-owned assembly plants, which were located in two economic free zones and accounted for a large part of exports. In the years before and after the turn of the century, there was a certain recovery when textile companies were attracted by economic benefits and the region’s lowest cost of labor. Mainly, simple garments were manufactured for export, but after 2005 competition from China, for example, increased.
The United States passed new laws in 2007 and 2008 that gave Haiti duty-free quotas for the export of clothing and textiles, and the agreements were extended to 2020. Interest in new investments has nevertheless been limited, although rising production costs in countries such as China and Mexico have made Haiti more competitive. during the 2010s. In a 2015 report, the World Bank listed four main causes of the problems for Haiti’s industrial sector: lack of educated manpower, poor infrastructure, poor access to capital and widespread corruption.
Aid countries and international economic experts have identified the simple textile industry as the industry in which Haiti would, after all, have the greatest chance of success. In 2011–2012, the first steps were taken to create an industrial zone in the city of Caracol in northern Haiti. The target was 65,000 industrial jobs, but after a couple of years they had managed to create just over 5,000 jobs. In 2016, however, an attempt was also made to outsource administrative duties in Caracol.
For domestic consumption, food and simple household goods, cement, beverages and shoes are mainly manufactured. About three-quarters of all small businesses were destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. Some have been rebuilt but far from all. In 2016, the manufacturing industry accounted for just over 8 percent of GDP.
US citizens are urged to leave Haiti
The repeated and violent protests against the government lead to the United States calling on US diplomats who do not “have to” be left to leave the country with their relatives. Demonstrations against President Jovenel Moïse continue, demanding an investigation into the embezzlement of Petrocaribe funds (see October 2018).
Violent protests against the government
At least three people are shot dead in connection with new large demonstrations in several cities demanding the departure of President Jovenel Moïse. According to the opposition, the eleven are dead. About 50 people are also injured. The protests have continued since the summer.
Heads roll in corruption scandal
President Jovenel Moïse dismisses two leading government officials and 15 advisers as a result of the Petrocaribe revival, the corruption scandal that has sparked mass protests in the country lately. Those who are now kicked have had to do with Petrocaribe but are not convicted of any crime. About ten former ministers have been identified as being involved in the corruption scandal, including the two who are now allowed to go.
Mass protests against corruption
At least two people are shot dead and a dozen injured in connection with demonstrations around the country against corruption. Tens of thousands of Haitians take part in the mass demonstrations that come after several weeks of growing anger against the government. The reason is mainly that the Senate in investigations made in 2016 and 2017 has concluded that close to $ 2 billion has been forfeited from Petrocaribe, an agreement with Venezuela that would provide oil at favorable prices and which was intended to support poor Haiti. The government’s failure to try to find out where the money has gone has now triggered protests.
New government approved
The Second Chamber is voting for the new government after a debate of more than ten hours. Thus Jean-Henry Céant joins his government. The day before, the Senate has given the government its support, after a debate of just over 15 hours.
New government ready
A new government is appointed with 18 ministers, six of whom are still sitting. Five of the ministers are women, the same proportion as in the previous government.
New prime minister nominated
President Moïse nominates Jean-Henry Céant as new prime minister, after two days of intensive negotiations with the leaders of both parliament’s chambers. Céant heads the political organization Renmen Ayiti and was presidential candidate in both 2010 and 2016.
The Prime Minister resigns after fuel scraps
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigns when it is clear he is threatened by a declaration of confidence in Parliament. Since then, Haiti has been shaken by popular protests against the government’s proposal to cut fuel subsidies, which would mean that the price of gasoline, diesel and kerosene would rise by up to 50 percent. At least four people have been killed in the rattles and stores and other buildings have been burned down. The government proposed the subsidies on the advice of the loan body IMF but withdraws the proposal when the protests became violent. The IMF proposes a more gradual abolition of government fuel subsidies.
Renovation in the government
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant is reshaping his government with several new names. The new ministers are reported to have essentially no political experience. The message comes a few days after a majority in Parliament has declared the ultimatum: President Jovenel Moïse must ensure that several ministers are replaced, otherwise Prime Minister Lafontant will be arrested. As a reason, it is stated that the government is ineffective.