|Haiti “Open for Business” in SoFla|
|Written by Monique McIntosh|
|Thursday, 28 June 2012 11:36|
Haiti's blooming investment opportunities were on display at the recent launch of the "Haiti Invest" Series at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Hosted by the Consulate General of Haiti in Miami and the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida (HACCOF), the forum presented several new projects for Haitian-American businesses to explore in agriculture, manufacturing, construction and tourism attractions.
The keynote speaker was Karl Jean-Louis, CEO of the Haiti's Center of Facilitation for Investments (CFI). In addition to presenting the center's accomplishments, Jean-Louis also outlined the center's new "red carpet service" to streamline the process of launching a business in Haiti for Haitian-American investors – from streamlining the business registering process to creating a "one stop service" that gathers the services of various government ministries into one resource center.
Apart from money investment, the CFI, said Jean-Louis, was also specifically intended to encourage Haitian-Americans to contribute their business expertise.
"We're not looking only for money," said Jean-Louis. "We're looking for knowledge as well."
The forum also hosted a presentation about investment opportunities in the newly built Caracol Industrial Park, by Marc D'Sa, Senior Advisor for Industrial Development in Haiti at U.S. Department of State and Henry-Claude Poitevien of the Tripartite Commission for the Implementation of the Law Hope (CTMO-HOPE). Describing it as a "catalyst" for a thriving city center, D'Sa said the park would generate an estimated $250 million by 2017 and over 60,000 jobs, in additional to thousands more potential jobs from auxiliary services.
Located close to the Cap Haitian International Airport and the Cap Haitian seaport for convenient export, the park will be equipped for manufacturing textiles, industrial packaging, produce processing, recycling of plastics and customer service call centers. The park will also house a 400 room executive hotel to serve Haitian-American investors visiting the country.
Poitevien also discussed the development of historic sites as tourist attractions in the area, including Tortuga Island (the historic headquarters of English and French pirates), and the historic town of La Navidad, where explorer Christopher Columbus first landed on his first voyage to the western hemisphere.
Erick Balthazar, the technical advisor and manager of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Regional Development (CIAT), also made a presentation on the latest innovations in Haiti's agricultural production. Haiti's mango production has seen a resurgence in recent years, but Balthazar stated the need for greater qualify control. Of the 40,000 tons of mangos produced annually in Haiti, three quarters are eventually rejected commercially.
Balthazar in particular highlighted plans to produce medicinal alcohol from sugar cane – an industry worth US$14 million in the local market alone. He also outlined plans to boost Haiti's local production of eggs and chicken, a market currently dominated by exports from the Dominican Republic. Haiti currently only supplies 25 percent of its chicken domestic market, which consumes nearly 15,000 tons annually. For eggs alone, only 1.3 million of the 44 million eggs consumed annually are produced in Haiti. Experts from a Jamaican broiler operation have also come on as advisors for this new venture.
Chamber of commerce officials also presented new useful services available to Haitian-American investors. President of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce (CCAH), Hervé Denis, pledged the chamber's efforts to expand its service beyond Port-au-Price to create a real transnational chamber of commerce. Denis presented the Chamber's new ventures, including a new mediation council to deal with business disputes between companies, and a new program targeting young entrepreneurs.
Denis also assured the audience that "despite the problems, Haiti remains a land of huge opportunity because it is a country to build."
President of the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of South Florida (HACCOF), Pierre Saliba, urged those interested in investing in Haiti to use the chamber's connections to navigate Haiti's law system. Regarding business regulation, Saliba said "there are more laws in Haiti than in the U.S." Saliba said one in nine businesses launched by Haitian-Americans close within one year due to unfamiliarity with the Haitian business environment.
The primary responsibility of the Florida chamber, said Saliba, was to "foster relationships in South Florida."
The chamber's supportive network has led to several successful ventures, including: new products launched through the chamber's "Woman in Production" expo; the Thailand trade mission; and the upcoming Biscayne Landing Project in North Miami.