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26816: Hermantin(News)Group to push for U.S.-Haiti trade pact (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Thu, Dec. 08, 2005
Group to push for U.S.-Haiti trade pact
A Washington-based group ended its three-day conference in Miami agreeing to
lobby U.S. lawmakers on Haiti's behalf, and urge Haitian business leaders to
agree on common goals.
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
A powerful Washington lobbying group that promotes economic development in the
Caribbean basin has agreed to go to bat for a preferential trade agreement for
Haiti with expectations that a deal ahead of the island-nation's presidential
elections would provide Haitians with much hope.
Haitian business leaders and others attending the Caribbean-Central American
Action's conference in Miami say in an incredibly poor nation like Haiti, the
hope of jobs could be the key to ending the spate of violence gripping the
volatile nation, and motivating Haitians to vote on election day, now scheduled
for Jan. 8. Thirty-five candidates are running for the presidency.
''It's not going to solve all of our problems,'' Maryse Kedar, president of
Haiti's manufacturer's association, said of the Haiti aid bill, called HOPE.
``But it's going to take people off the streets by putting them to work. This
will create some hope.''
But the prospects of the U.S. Congress passing the bill before lawmakers recess
for Christmas break and before Jan. 8 appear dim, said Chandri Navarro-Bowman,
who has been trying unsuccessfully to get lawmakers to agree to the textile
trade legislation. Navarro-Bowman, who brought her pleas to a Wednesday
afternoon workshop on the role of Haiti's private sector on the last day of
CCAA's Miami conference, said Washington lawmakers are apathetic toward Haiti.
''It is only when Haiti gets a trade preference program that sets Haiti's
imports into the U.S. apart that true investments incentives will be there for
U.S. companies and others to establish operations in Haiti,'' Navarro-Bowman
said before session moderator and CCAA Executive Committee Member Peter Johnson
agreed to have CCAA write a letter to the House Republican leadership
supporting the Haiti aid legislation.
Haitian manufacturers estimate that the bill, aptly called HOPE, would create
about 40,000 textile jobs over the next two years in the country. It would be
more than twice the number the country currently has.
''Haiti needs help,'' Johnson said.
``But Haiti is not doing enough to help itself.''
Johnson said Haiti's private sector needs to use the next few weeks to come up
with a common agenda to present to all of the presidential candidates and the
new Haitian government after election on what its needs are.
At the top of that list said some non-Haitian business leaders needs to be
security, a properly working justice system and an end to corruption.
''No matter what best efforts come from Washington as long as those conditions
are not there, you will not see the kind of quality investments pouring into
Haiti that are required to create jobs,'' said Pat Minicucci, an executive with
Scotiabank which this year opened its fourth branch in Haiti.
``There is so much money poised and waiting for Haiti.''
Adolfo Franco, assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean of
the U.S. Agency for International Development, agreed Haiti is a good
''The private sector should look at Haiti not as a charity case but as a place
for enormous growth and potential,'' said Franco, who gave the final keynote
luncheon address. ``Haiti is a good investment for the future, a good bet for