Carl-Henri Prophète on Haitian economic growth

He writes to me:

…just to let you know that Haiti’s economy grew by 4.3% in 2013. This is the highest growth rate since the 1970s excluding post embargo and post earthquake years (1995 and 2011). Nothing spectacular, but worth noticing I think. Some people may question these numbers in a country where the National Statistics Institute regularly looses its best staff to NGOs where they can earn 3 times their previous salary. But there is a general feel that economic activity was definitely higher than usual in 2013.

This is partly due to luck: There were no hurricanes or major drought period during the year, so agriculture which accounts for around a 1/4 of the economy grew by 4.6%. The construction sector did also well (+9%) thanks to major infrastructure investment by the government funded by generous Venezuelan aid and some major private investments (in the hotel sector for instance). Exports also increased in real terms by 5%. By the way, there are two firms assembling low cost Android tablets in the country now, which may lead to a greater diversification in exports away from garments in the future. (see here here

However, inequality is still very high and even more spatially visible as the relatively wealthy suburb of Petion Ville is booming and has became the de-facto capital since the earthquake. Also, there are questions about how long this Venezuelan aid will last and its impact on the country’s debt, corruption and government accountability. Furthermore, there should be elections for many parliament seats in 2014 which may fuel political instability.


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