The Haiti trade proposal has been in the works for years, but really emerged as a divisive issue this fall. Perhaps the most controversial proposal on the table would allow Haiti garment makers to produce as much as 60 million square yards of woven apparel, such as chinos and denim jeans, with foreign-made material, while still qualifying for duty-free access to the U.S. Haiti's backers say that accounts for less than 1% of the U.S.'s overall apparel imports each year.The moral high ground is with those supporting Haiti. We feel your pain.
Supporters say the deal would give Haiti greater flexibility to meet the requests of retailers, and is needed to restore some competitive edge Haiti lost after Congress conferred special trade benefits last year on the Dominican Republic and five Central American nations.
Haiti is by far the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with four-fifths of its 8.3 million people living in poverty, and newly elected president René Préval is grappling with the spread of AIDS, unreliable electrical service and criminal gangs, as he seeks to revive the economy.
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But with voter concern over globalization having tipped important races in midterm elections and helped Democrats retake Congress, Haiti now faces an even-tougher environment, trade experts said.
Cross posted at The Emirates Economist.