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U.S.-Funded Center To Improve Haitian Garment Manufacturing Opens In Haiti

The U.S.-funded Haitian Apparel Center, which aims to train about 2,000 workers per year, was opened in the capital of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. The new center will help Haitian companies evolve from making “simple things, like sheets and T-shirts, to more complex garments,” according to U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten. “And more complex garments mean higher profit margins and more money coming into the country,” he added (Lush, 8/11).

“In addition to providing vocational training, the center will further enable Haiti to maximize the benefits of the Haitian Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act signed into law in May, which improves U.S. market access for Haitian apparel exports,” according to a USAID press release (8/11). Though plans for the center predate the Jan. 12 earthquake, its launch “was delayed because a post-quake emergency health clinic occupied the space for several months,” the AP notes. “The center is part of a four-year, $104.8 million USAID program to improve manufacturing skills of workers,” the news service writes (8/11).

The center’s 6,000-square-meter facility “was provided by the government of Haiti and renovated and operated by USAID partner CHF International-Haiti,” according to the press release (8/11).

In related news, the Los Angeles Times examines unemployment in Haiti and the associated challenges.

“More than six months since the Jan. 12 quake flattened much of Port-au-Prince, one of the biggest challenges facing the recovery effort is finding work for untold thousands of Haitians who lost their toehold in the economy, or never had one. … The quake deepened a jobs crisis in Haiti, where unemployment was already estimated at 70% or higher,” the newspaper writes. To address unemployment in the short-term, aid groups, including USAID, have been hiring Haitians on a temporary basis. The article includes details about other groups’ efforts to deal with unemployment (Ellingwood, 8/12).