PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – More than 1,000 businesspeople and government officials took part today in the Invest in Haiti Forum, one of the largest meetings of its kind ever held in the Caribbean, underscoring the strong private sector interest in the country’s economic potential.
Participants discussed concrete business opportunities in sectors such as apparel, tourism and agribusiness, as well as infrastructure projects related to Haiti’s reconstruction and long term development efforts.
During the conference organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government of Haiti and the Clinton Foundation, several announcements were made regarding investments in hotels, furniture and cable manufacturing. Haitian President Michele Martelly, President Bill Clinton, and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno launched the event at the Karibe Hotel Convention Center.
"What we need is a country that has construction initiatives, building opportunities that create jobs...This Forum shows us the our visitors are interested in the investment opportunities Haiti offers," Martelly said.
“One of Haiti’s biggest challenges is boosting economic growth and generating jobs,” IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said. “To do this, Haiti must rebuild and upgrade its infrastructure. It has to create the right incentives for private sector investment. It is for this reason that we organized the Invest in Haiti Forum with our partners. There is enough economic firepower here to make a positive impact in the lives of millions of Haitians.”
"The Invest in Haiti Forum highlights the importance of private-sector investment in Haiti, and shows the world that Haiti is again open for business,” said President Clinton.“I am proud that the Clinton Foundation is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Haitian government to create new business opportunities for both Haitians and foreign investors, and help Haiti build back better."
During the two-day conference foreign and local businesspeople will hold more than 700 face-to-face matchmaking sessions. Companies, NGOs and government agencies from 29 different countries and overseas territories are taking part in the forum.
Agreements announced in Port-au-Prince
On the eve of the forum, Marriott International and Digicel Group announced an agreement to build and operate a new hotel in Port-au-Prince. The Bethesda, Maryland-based hotel company will manage the 168-room, $45 million property, which will be owned by a subsidiary of Digicel Group, a leading telecommunications provider in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific Region.
Earlier that same day, Presidents Martelly, Clinton and Moreno participated in a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park, a 250-hectare manufacturing facility on Haiti’s northern shore. The park’s first tenant, South Korean company Sae-A, plans to invest $78 million in an apparel and textile manufacturing plant and hire as many as 20,000 workers at that location.
On Tuesday, LS Cable & Systems, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of energy and telecommunications cables, is to sign an agreement with the government of Haiti to promote infrastructure development. LS Cable, part of the South Korean industrial conglomerate LG Group, is considering an investment in a manufacturing facility in the Caribbean nation.
The IDB and Colombia’s National Coffee Federation announced a partnership to work on transferring agricultural, reforestation and cooperative organization best practices to Haitian coffee growers. The government of Colombia and Nestlé, the world’s largest foods company, also plan to support the project, which is being prepared by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).
The IDB also announced its intentions to join the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves. The MIF is already working on issues related to the alliance in the Latin America and Caribbean region. In collaboration with the Clinton-B ush Haiti Fund, Arc Finance and FoodExpress, the MIF is helping establish a platform to enable Diaspora members to buy and send cleaner-burning cook stoves and other energy efficient devices for their relatives in Haiti.
Finally, the IDB announced that the MIF is coordinating with World Central Kitchen, an NGO founded by renowned chef Jose Andres, and the CODEVI Industrial Park in northeastern Haiti to develop a project to train local cooks who provide food to factory workers.