US Bishops Request Trade Preferences for Haiti

Stress Need for Long-Term Reconstruction

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 3, 2010 ( In the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, the U.S. bishops are appealing for trade preferences to help the country with long-term reconstruction.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. bishops’ conference, made this request in a letter that was publicized today.

The letter, dated Feb. 19, was sent to the members of the Senate’s Finance Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee to express support for the «Renewing Hope for Haiti Act.»

The act, proposed at the beginning of February by Senators Ron Wyden and Bill Nelson, specifically addresses policies for helping Haiti rebuild its apparel industry, which constituted 75% of the nation’s exports before the quake.

After the disaster, which demolished at least one factory and killed the 500 workers inside, the industry’s capacity was cut in half.

The apparel sector has been a source of economic growth for the impoverished country in part due to laws permitting Haiti to export goods to the United States with greater preferences than other nations.

The act proposes to renew these laws, some of which will expire in September, giving Haiti an advantage over other trade partners. Supporters state that approving the bill now will renew retailer confidence in the Haitian producers, ultimately bringing more long-term growth to the country’s economy.


Bishop Hubbard asked the senators to cosponsor the bill «so that it moves quickly through the legislative process.»

«While an integrated vision of what it will take to help Haiti recover,» he acknowledged, «the people of Haiti cannot wait until a comprehensive strategic plan is developed.»

The prelate continued: «Thousands of jobs could be quickly created in Haiti if this legislation passes. The bill represents an important start and an opportunity to improve the lives of the Haitian people.»

«A critically important part of any integrated strategy is the extension of the trade preferences that Haiti was granted through the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Acts (HOPE I and HOPE II), which our conference strongly supported,» he said.

The bishop acknowledged that the Renewing Hope for Haiti Act will do this as well.

«While under this modest legislation Haitian factories are still limited in what they can produce and export under the U.S. preference program to basic garments that have ‘little’ added value,» Bishop Hubbard affirmed, «extending the existing trade preferences will help the Haitian economy quickly create badly needed jobs and can reduce poverty in the long-term as well as encourage exporters to rebuild more quickly.»

He pointed out that later «it will be important to adopt broader preferential treatment for Haitian goods.»

The bishop urged the lawmakers to respond to «the need for a long-term coherent strategy for recovery, development and poverty reduction in Haiti.»

He assured them of the efforts of the bishops’ conference and their humanitarian arm, Catholic Relief Services, to do «everything possible to act in solidarity with the people and Church in Haiti as they rebuild their country.»

— — —

On the Net:

Bishop’s letter:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation