In T&T: Haiti wants trade, not aid

9 December 2011


They don’t need fish and they don’t need to learn how to fish. They want you to buy their fish!

Haiti is open for business, declared Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Lamothe, as he met the media and business community yesterday at the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) headquarters in St Clair. His message was that Haiti wants investment and trade, not aid. Opportunities abound for persons wishing to help in the rebuilding of Haiti from its 2010 earthquake.

Lamothe arrived at Piarco International Airport with Haitian President Michel Martelly who went to the Caricom-Cuba Summit at NAPA, Port-of-Spain. Lam-

othe briefly visited NAPA and then went to the ACS where he was met by ACS secretary-general, Luis Fernando Andrade Falla.

At the ACS, Lamothe declared, “I have some good news to tell you about Haiti, and about the future prospects of doing business there and investing there. I stand ready to welcome you very soon in Haiti.”

Newsday asked what Haiti can offer TT in trade and investment.

Lamothe enthused that Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) is one of the first TT companies to invest in Haiti. “An investment has just been made of over US$16 million into the cement (industry). They are about to start operations there,” said Lamothe.

“As you know, there is a massive reconstruction that is about to get underway in Haiti. From our own funds we are planning on investing US$468 million into reconstruction. From the reconstruction aid there is over US$1 billion that is coming in from different multi-lateral agencies and bilateral relationships that we have. We are pushing strongly for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to come in…”

Haiti will dip into the PetroCaribe Fund to build a US$44 million public housing complex in northern Port-au-Prince, and to invest in the Haitian people.

“So there is a wealth of opportunities…Money will be used for many of these constructions that are going to be happening, so we are very excited about that.”

Lamothe saw artwork as a likely export item to TT.

“Haiti has a very large arts and crafts industry. We have a lot of that to export.”

Haiti also has agricultural products to export.

“Banana, coffee, mangoes — the Haitian mango is one of the best in the world, for my taste.” He wanted to link the 10 million population of Haiti to the markets of Caricom.

“There was a ‘Chubby’ soft-drink that was in Haiti and we encourage it to come back, as it is an extremely large market for that brand,” related Lamothe, referring to Trinidad-based SM Jaleel Co Ltd’s popular soft drink.

“We are here today to promote the investment opportunities in Haiti into the different sectors that I mentioned. I mentioned the sources of funds that will be used and we feel that it’s a great opportunity.

“Now is a very good time for the TT private sector and the private sector of Caricom and the ACS to come and take a look at these investment opportunities that we have.”

Lamothe said, “We are very, very serious about pushing Haiti as an investment destination.”

The country has wonderful beaches and has a new, democratically-elected government, he said.

He was optimistic that 200 years of political instability would be overcome by a “new investment climate” created by the new, pro-business government, comprised of many young Ministers who hold MBAs (Masters in Business Administration degrees). Companies going to Haiti will earn a good return on their investment, assured Lamothe.

“We have the whole world with their eyes on us, wanting us to succeed,” he said. “We are not asking for handouts but for investments.”

Lamothe played on Haiti’s Davis Cup tennis team in 1994 and 1995, runs the Global Voice Group that supplies telecommunications to the developing world, and was a 2008 nominee for Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

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