Haiti - Economy

Economy

Main article: Economy of Haiti

Haiti's economy is still recovering from the massive earthquake in January 2010. Its purchasing power parity GDP fell 8% in 2010 (from $12.15 billion to $11.18 billion) and the GDP per capita remained unchanged at (PPP US$) 1,200. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti ranked 145 of 182 countries in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Index, with 57.3% of the population being deprived in at least three of the HDI's poverty measures.

The World Factbook reports a shortage of skilled labor, widespread unemployment and underemployment, saying "more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs", and describes pre-earthquake Haiti as "already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty." Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day.

Adult literacy is variously reported as 52.9% and 65.3%, and the World Bank estimates that in 2004 over 80% of college graduates from Haiti were living abroad, with their remittances home representing 52.7% of Haiti's GDP. Cité Soleil is considered one of the worst slums in the Americas; most of its 500,000 residents live in extreme poverty. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 Haitian children to work as restavecs (unpaid household servants); the United Nations considers this to be a modern-day form of slavery.

About 66% of all Haitians work in the agricultural sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming, but this activity makes up only 30% of the GDP. The country has experienced little formal job-creation over the past decade, although the informal economy is growing. Mangoes and coffee are two of Haiti's most important exports.

Natural resources of Haiti include bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble and hydropower. Haiti contains relatively small amounts of gold, silver, antimony, tin, lignite, sulphur, coal, nickel, gypsum, limestone, manganese, marble, iron, tungsten, salt, clay, and various building stones. Gold and copper are found in small quantities in the north of the country. The government announced the discovery of new gold deposits in the northern peninsula in 1985, but long-standing plans for gold production proceeded slowly. Copper also was mined, beginning in the 1960s, but production of the ore was sporadic. There are bauxite (aluminum ore) deposits on the southern peninsula, but large scale mining there was discontinued in 1983. The country's only bauxite mine, the Miragoâne mine in the southern peninsula, produced an average of 500,000 tons of bauxite a year in the early 1980s; however, in 1982 the declining metal content of the ore, high production costs, and the oversupplied international bauxite market forced the mine to close. Bauxite had at one time been the country's second leading export. Haiti apparently has no hydrocarbon resources on land or in the Gulf of Gonâve and is therefore heavily dependent on energy imports (petroleum and petroleum products).

Haiti's richest 1% own nearly half the country's wealth. Haiti has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Since the day of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's government has been notorious for its corruption. It is estimated that President "Baby Doc" Duvalier, his wife Michelle, and three other people took $504 million from the Haitian public treasury between 1971 and 1986.

Similarly, some media outlets alleged that millions were stolen by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. However the accuracy of the information is questionable and may have been concocted to discredit Aristide. In March 2004, at the time of Aristide's being kidnapped, a BBC article wrote that the Bush administration State department claimed that Aristide had been involved in drug trafficking. The BBC also described pyramid schemes, in which Haitians lost hundreds of millions in 2002, as the "only real economic initiative" of the Aristide years. However this cannot necessarily be entirely blamed on Aristide since one of his conditions upon being returned to Haiti by the Clinton administration during the 90s was that he not stir the pot away from US Free Market Trade Policies. Clinton recently expressed regret and apologized for the US's trade policies with Haiti Aristide however decided against being further tied to the free market policies that he was restricted to, and he attempted to raise the country's minimum wage.

Foreign aid makes up approximately 30–40% of the national government's budget. The largest donor is the US, followed by Canada and the European Union. From 1990 to 2003, Haiti received more than $4 billion in aid. The United States alone had provided Haiti with 1.5 billion in aid. Venezuela and Cuba also make various contributions to Haiti's economy, especially after alliances were renewed in 2006 and 2007. In January 2010, China promised $4.2 million for the quake-hit island. US President Barack Obama pledged $1.15 billion in assistance. European Union nations promised more than 400 million euros ($616 million) in emergency aid and reconstruction funds.

US aid to the Haitian government was completely cut off from 2001 to 2004, after the 2000 election was disputed and President Aristide was accused of various misdeeds. After Aristide's departure in 2004, aid was restored, and the Brazilian army led the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti peacekeeping operation. Following almost 4 years of recession ending in 2004, the economy grew by 1.5% in 2005.

In 2005 Haiti's total external debt reached an estimated US$1.3 billion, which corresponds to a debt per capita of US$169. In September 2009, Haiti met the conditions set out by the IMF and World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries program to qualify for cancellation of its external debt.

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