Socio-political stability would help Haiti to benefit from its
This first Trade Policy Review of Haiti has provided the opportunity
for a better understanding and appreciation of its trade-related
policies. Our discussion has been facilitated by the frank involvement
of Minister Jean-Claude Roche and his delegation.
Members were encouraged by Haiti's unilateral reform efforts that have
made it one of the most liberal economies in Latin America and the
Caribbean. However, because of socio-political problems, the lack of
institutional capacity, supply-side constraints and delays in
structural reforms, the efforts are yet to show their full benefits.
Members encouraged Haiti to tackle these impediments and to pursue its
reforms. The new Investment Code might help attract the FDI needed to
improve Haiti's economic performance.
Members commended Haiti on its active participation in the
multilateral trading system. Noting that Haiti was also becoming
involved in regional trade agreements such as CARICOM, Members
enquired about the likely impact of the agreements and how Haiti
intended to ensure their compatibility with its current trade regime.
Haiti was encouraged to mainstream trade into its development and
poverty reduction strategies. Some Members noted Haiti's technical
assistance needs; they also remarked on Haiti's difficulties in taking
advantage of preferential treatment and on the erosion of preferential
Trade liberalization has been a main component of Haiti's reforms.
Members praised Haiti for the simplification of its tariff structure;
MFN tariffs average 2.9%, with about 67% of lines carrying the zero
rate. However, inconsistencies were noted in the imposition of excise
duties, and other duties and charges (inspection fees in particular)
were deemed relatively high. Members encouraged Haiti to narrow the
gap between bound and applied rates, to transpose its former tariff
bindings into the Harmonized System, and to pursue its reform of
Noting that the waiver granted to Haiti to delay application of the
WTO Customs Valuation Agreement had expired on 30 January 2003,
Members sought clarification about its plans to implement the
Agreement. They urged Haiti to start taking steps to bring its
intellectual property regime into compliance with the TRIPS Agreement,
and stood ready to provide the necessary assistance.
Some Members pointed out that structural problems, inconsistent
policies, and exogenous factors (including bad weather conditions and
unfair competition from foreign countries) had contributed to the
decline of agriculture and manufacturing, and had further concentrated
economic activities in services. The pursuit of the privatization
programme might contribute to economic diversification by enhancing
efficiency, reducing costs of basic services needed for production,
and releasing resources for improvement of infrastructure. This might
also promote Haiti's tourism subsector, which has largely untapped
Members also sought further clarification on a number of issues,
including trade policy formulation; import licensing; local-content
requirements; export assistance; contingency trade remedies; standards
and SPS; and the public procurement regime.
Members appreciated the replies provided by the delegation of Haiti
and looked forward to receiving additional material.
I believe that this Review has highlighted the efforts made by Haiti
to unilaterally liberalize its economy despite various difficulties. I
am pleased that some Members identified areas in which they were
providing trade-related technical assistance to Haiti, and take note
of their commitment to continue their assistance. I urge that we
follow through on this, particularly in the context of the Integrated
Framework. Haiti needs this support to mainstream its trade-related
policy into its development strategy, address its supply-side
constraints, and diversify its economy. In sum, subject to
socio-political stability, further assistance by major trading
partners will be necessary if Haiti is to meet its development
potential and fully integrate into the multilateral trading system.