President Clinton Leads Trade Delegation to Haiti
1 October 2009
Office Of The Special Envoy For Haiti
1 October 2009, Port-au-Prince, Haiti — Less than two months after his last trip, and at the invitation of the Haitian government and private sector, President Bill Clinton welcomed 500 international business executives to Haiti, as part of the first delegation of this kind in over 25 years.
Speaking before a conference of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), President Clinton emphasized the significant business opportunities in Haiti, across a range of industries including agriculture, renewable energy, textiles, and infrastructure.
“Haiti has great potential for development,” President Clinton said. “This is the right time to invest in Haiti, to help build a better neighbor, a reliable business partner, an alluring tourist destination, and a more prosperous home for its hard-working, resilient people.”
“Three months ago, this was just a conversation between the government and people of Haiti and President Clinton. Today, we welcomed more than 500 investors interested in doing business here,” said President Preval. “President Clinton’s partnership with us has also helped to generate more than a billion dollars in debt forgiveness from the World Bank, the IMF and the IDB, as well a couple of hundred million more from the United States, Italy and other bilateral creditors via the Paris Club. Alongside these external measures, the Government of Haiti has been taking and will continue to take concrete steps to improve the business environment in order to attract foreign direct investment, begin to create the hundreds of thousands of needed sustainable jobs, and improve the lives of its citizens. Just this week, for the first time in decades, our national budget was passed into law by Parliament before the start of the new fiscal year,” he added.
The delegation’s two-day visit coincided with an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Investment Conference and an International Labour Organization (ILO) Betterworks Conference. Together, these events brought unprecedented numbers of companies and investors to Haiti, providing over 500 business leaders from four continents and multinational corporations with a unique opportunity to engage with their Haitian counterparts.
President Clinton also met with Haitian President Préval and Prime Minister Pierre-Louis, and reiterated his support for the Government of Haiti’s comprehensive economic vision and recovery plan.
President Clinton will travel to the northern coast of Haiti on Friday, where he will highlight the world-class tourism opportunities. He and members of his delegation will visit the Sans Souci Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and national park also housing the Citadelle, a historic symbol of freedom for the people of Haiti.
Since beginning work as UN Special Envoy for Haiti in June, President Clinton has announced a number of specific achievements, including:
- The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) recently invested $55 million to develop Labadie – a beach resort area on Cap Hatien – and expects to bring 650,000 – 1 million tourists to Haiti by 2011. RCCL also will create a new vocational school in the region that will be operated jointly with the Ministry of Tourism and the local chamber of commerce, equipping Haitians with training for good jobs in the hospitality industry. In addition, RCCL has committed to contributing to the local economy by purchasing more food products from Haitian producers.
Digicel Founder and Chairman Denis O’Brien has launched a new “young entrepreneurs initiative” with a commitment of $300,000 to allow young entrepreneurs to enter a contest by submitting business proposals which will be reviewed by an independent board. Placing a high priority on proposals that address the needs of women, the board will then provide training and a $15,000 grant to the winning project. The Haitian Minister for Gender Affairs, Madame Lassègue, has agreed to contribute to the Young Entrepreneurs Initiative.
Bio Tek, a private biofuels company, and the Government of Haiti are entering into a Public Private Partnership to increase the use of biofuels in Haiti. This partnership will create hundreds of jobs for local sugar farmers. BioTek also has committed to providing job training, free seeds for crop substitution, and cleaning and maintenance of local watersheds.
- Responding to requests from Haitian businesspeople, President Clinton brought high-level representatives from the arm of the World Bank Group that provides political risk guarantees to foreign investors (MIGA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), significantly enlarging the pool of investors in Haiti.
- Through the support of the Soul of Haiti Foundation, one of the Irish Entrepreneur of the Year finalists, Mr. Terry Clune of Taxback.com, has decided to establish an information phone line in Port au Prince that will provide tax documentation support for interested clients, operating from the new Digicel building. Taxback.com has committed to create new jobs by March 2010, with the initial launch planned for the end of October.
- Last week, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) announced twenty-one commitments valued at $258 million for projects for Haiti — including a three-year $2 million pledge by actor Matt Damon’s Water.org to provide safe water and sanitation to 50,000 people. Also, Habitat for Humanity and the U.S. Agency for International Development pledged $4.5 million to repair 1,500 family homes in two cities damaged by last year’s hurricanes. In addition, CGI member Mouhsine Serrar from Prakti Design Labs and a wide range of partners committed to provide affordable and fuel-efficient cook stoves, to limit the impact of deforestation and create healthier and cleaner indoor living environments for Haitians.
- As part of the $170 million in new projects generated through the 2008 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, a new bridge in Boucan Carré, spanning Fonlanfè, was completed last week. The bridge was created as a result of a commitment by Digicel Founder and Chairman Denis O’Brien and Dr. Paul Farmer, with support from the Government of Haiti and the United Nations.
- The International Finance Corporation is funding a two-year technical assistance initiative to assist Haiti to create approximately 10,000 new jobs through work on the industrial parks that host investment, and through outreach initiatives to bring new foreign investors Haiti.
These commitments build on additional steps being taken by the Soros Economic Development Fund and the Haitian based WIN group, to invest $45 million to expand industrial capacity in Haiti, projected to create 25,000 new jobs, in collaboration with other Haitian businesses.
For further information, please contact:
Jehane Sedky, Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, +1 212 729 8257, [email protected]