Haiti – United States relations: Wikis

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Haiti – United States relations
Haiti   United States
Map indicating location of Haiti and USA
     Haiti      United States

Haiti – United States relations are bilateral relations between Haiti and the United States.

Contents

History

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Haiti/US Relations 1804-1914

After Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804, through slave rebellion, the pro-slavery south worried this event could influence slaves in the US, and America refused to acknowledge Haiti's independence until 1862[1]. President Andrew Johnson suggested annexing the island to secure influence over Europe in the Caribbean[2]. The US government never followed through, but did post active military on the island during this period[3].

The United States Occupation (1915–34)

From 1915 to 1934 the U.S. Marines occupied Haiti.[4] Prior to the occupation, the U.S. military took control of the banks and collected $500,000 to hold in New York.[5] It also repealed an 1804 provision that forbade foreigners from owning land in Haiti. This occupation impacted the nation's economy as well as the people's self-image and independence. Since this period, the U.S. has given aid packages to Haitian governments that support U.S. economic and political interests.[citation needed]

Current Policy

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS), particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group (originally a United Nations group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.[citation needed]

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in fiscal year 1999–2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991–94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.[citation needed]

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. Since 2004, the U.S. has provided over $600 million for improving governance, security, the rule of law, economic recovery, and critical human needs. The President's budget request for FY 2007 was $198 million. U.S. Government funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Additional information on U.S. assistance to Haiti can be found at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/fs/2006/77358.htm.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of over 100,000 in 1986 to fewer than 20,000 in 2006, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.[citation needed]

Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States.[citation needed]

U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2007. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deepwater port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.[citation needed]

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)--which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and the HOPE Act, which provides additional duty-free preferences for qualifying apparel/textiles products and automotive wire harnesses.[citation needed]

U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.[citation needed]

Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.[citation needed]

Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.[citation needed]

Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a high-cost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. There is little direct investment.[citation needed]

In November 2002, the Haitian Parliament passed an investment law prohibiting fiscal and legal discrimination against foreign investors. The 2002 law explicitly recognizes the crucial role of foreign direct investment in spurring economic growth and aims to facilitate, liberalize, and stimulate private investment in Haiti. Foreign investment protection is also provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified.[citation needed]

Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guides. 

Principal U.S. Officials

  • Ambassador—Kenneth H. Merten
  • Deputy Chief of Mission—Thomas C. Tighe
  • Consul General-- Donald Moore
  • Public Affairs Officer—James Ellickson-Brown
  • USAID Director—Paul Tuebner

Principal Haitian Officials

Diplomatic missions

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti is located in Port-au-Prince.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

External links


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