U.S. program lifts Haiti's textile duties


Stacey Vanek-Smith: More than three months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Congress has introduced the Haiti Economic Lift Program, or HELP. The act would allow more Haitian textiles to be sold in the U.S. without import duties. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.

Jeff Tyler: Textiles and apparel make up more than 80 percent of Haiti's exports, and the U.S. buys most of it. So, if Congress does away with import duties for clothes made in Haiti, it provides an incentive for international companies to open factories there.

Fabrizio Opertti is with the Inter-American Development Bank:

Fabrizio Opertti: This is very positive for investment in Haiti and the textile and apparel sector. And it's very important for job creation.

Some worry that most of the jobs will still be in a single, dominant industry. But Stephanie Burgos with Oxfam America says those jobs are key to Haiti's recovery. Oxfam supports the bill in Congress. At the same time, Burgos agrees on the need to diversify the economy.

Stephanie Burgos: We should be helping Haitians to repair their agricultural sector and to build their domestic economy to produce food. But I don't think one is exclusive of the other.

She says the legislation would expand a program that monitors labor conditions so that the apparel industry could grow while reducing the number sweat shops.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.


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