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Investors conference holds hope for apparel sector
Oct '09
The Inter-American Development Bank has organised one of the biggest investors conference ever held in Haiti and which was attended by representatives from iconic brands like Gap, Levis, American Eagle Outfitters and a host of other North and Latin American apparel retailers.

The Prime Minister of Haiti, Michele Pierre-Louis, who gave the opening address and welcomed the hundreds of potential investors said, “At the government, we are doing our share and now we turn to you and ask you to do yours, but time is of the essence."

Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, who was also appointed as a special UN envoy to Haiti, said, “Representatives of the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which offers political-risk guarantees to investors, are attending the meeting”.

He added by saying "That should be an encouraging sign, although I can tell you that, your political risk in Haiti is lower than it has been in my lifetime". Pierre-Louis also spoke about the improving security atmosphere in her country.

The focus of the conference mainly rested on agriculture and textiles and was held on a day when the government raised the minimum wage for textile and workers from other industrial sectors from US $1.75 per day to $3.10, per day.

Georges Sassine, President of Haiti's Industrial Association, said there was a great amount of interest in low-cost Haiti from Latin American garment companies and they are looking at setting up textile mills and factories.

The clothing manufacturing sector in Haiti at its peak in the 1980's used to employ around 130,000 people, but has fallen to a few thousands in recent years. Hopes of a turnaround have revived with the passage of the HOPE II act in the US Congress.

The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act allows textile and apparel products, entry in the US markets, duty-free in unlimited quantities if they are cut and sewn in Haiti regardless of where the fabric originated.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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