The Economic Activity of Haiti
Right now, the economy of Haiti is running on humanitarian aid from the international community after the recent earthquake that hit the country. It is still not known how long rebuilding will take place as priorities are still set on bringing back basic infrastructures like roads, bridges, hospitals and communication centers. Before the earthquake struck, Haiti already has the worst economy in the Western Hemisphere. It was under an IMF-sanctioned program that in 2006, recorded its highest growth of 1.8% which now accounts to nothing because of the severe damage the earthquake caused.
Despite the not so good picture that’s being painted on Haiti, there are some good things going for this Caribbean nation like their mango, coffee and cocoa farms which are getting exported and giving jobs to the thousands of Haitians. Sugarcane has been a traditional cash crop but has been declining in terms of production as a result of declining world sugar prices. Timber was also an economic contributor to Haiti but has contributed much to the country’s deforestation and so not much to expect from this industry in the near future. Fishing is also a thriving industry where an annual average harvest of 5,000 tons is being caught. Agriculture, forestry and fishing together account for about 67% of Haiti’s GDP. Most of Haiti’s agricultural sector are small scale and produces just enough to subsist for the small scale farmers.
Haiti is also known for widespread corruption. By comparison with other Latin American countries, it is known that opening a business in Haiti would actually take 204 days while other country in the region averages only about 73.3 days. This has contributed to the deterrence of foreign capitalists from investing in the country. Haiti officials have been also known to pocket humanitarian aid funds and so most of the foreign aid given has not actually reached its intended target. Because of the extent of damage caused by the earthquake, a total of $1.2 billion debt has been cancelled, so far, so that Haiti can build anew.
In a nutshell, Haiti’s economy is at a standstill right now. But because the international community has vowed and pledged to help Haiti stand back up again, it is now in the position to rethink and make a master plan that will truly benefit the country as a whole.