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Washington, D.C. - Today United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed introduction by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees of a bill to expand and extend trade benefits available to Haiti, increasing Haiti’s duty-free access to the U.S. market for certain Haitian-made apparel and other articles. Ambassador Kirk noted that the bill would also extend until the year 2020 the slated expiration date of the benefits under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II). He issued the following statement:
"I commend this bipartisan, bicameral effort to provide much needed economic opportunities to the Haitian people," said Ambassador Kirk. "One of the most powerful tools we can use to help Haiti recover and thrive after January’s devastating earthquake is to extend trade opportunities that lead to job-creating investment there."
The HOPE II Act was enacted in 2008 as a continuation and expansion of the original HOPE Act of 2006. These laws expanded the benefits provided to Haiti under the Caribbean Basin Initiative trade programs, with the goals of fostering stability and economic development in Haiti. About 90 percent of Haiti’s exports to the United States are in the apparel sector.
In February 2010, Ambassador Kirk announced a new initiative to assist post-earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. The initiative, called the Plus One for Haiti program, is encouraging U.S. brands and retailers to work toward sourcing one percent of their total apparel production from Haiti. Companies participating in the Plus One for Haiti program can utilize existing HOPE II duty-free access for Haitian-made apparel, and the pledges for increased sourcing efforts are encouraging investors to get Haitian factories fully operational as soon as possible. The legislative initiative announced today would further promote such investment in Haiti.