On January 12, 2010, an earthquake in Haiti devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities. Even as relief efforts are underway to cope with the terrible losses, now is the time to plan for reconstruction.
Rebuilding Haiti’s physical and social infrastructure will take years, resources, and careful planning. Crucial to rebuilding is providing jobs and income to Haiti’s working men and women—and Haiti’s apparel industry holds promise. As noted in Haiti: From Natural Catastrophe to Economic Security, a brief to the UN Secretary-General by renowned economist Paul Collier, the apparel industry has great potential to create thousands of jobs in a very brief time frame.
Indeed, after the U.S. Congress passed the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, the industry began attracting the attention of international investors. And within a mere two weeks of the quake, several of Haiti’s apparel factories had already resumed production.
Nathan Associates’ August 2009 report on the apparel industry in Haiti was prepared for Haiti’s Tripartite Commission for Implementation of the HOPE Act and funded by the World Bank. In it we show how Haiti’s garment industry offered a competitive platform for production of a diverse range of apparel before the earthquake. Given its potential to quickly create thousands of jobs, Haiti’s apparel industry can again spark hope among the people of Haiti.