Las Vegas, N.V. - During a visit to the MAGIC Marketplace textile and apparel trade event in Las Vegas, NV, Ambassador Ron Kirk was joined by Haitian apparel manufacturer Richard Coles of Multitex, President of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) Julia K. Hughes, Jerry Cook, Vice President of Government and Trade Relations for Hanesbrands, Inc., and Senior Director at GAP Mark D'Sa as Ambassador Kirk announced a new initiative to assist post-earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. The initiative, called the Plus 1 for Haiti program, will encourage U.S. brands and retailers to work toward sourcing 1 percent of their total apparel production from Haiti.
"To continue to grow Haitian apparel exports and help Haiti's economy for the long term, additional investment in and sourcing from Haiti is critical. And that is where the Plus One for Haiti program can make a difference," said Kirk. "One percent may seem small - but it means new jobs and new opportunities for the Haitian people who so desperately need forward-looking solutions in the wake of January's devastating earthquake. And critically, a coordinated effort that promises increased sourcing can encourage investors to get Haitian factories up and running again and provide the demand necessary to encourage expansion of apparel manufacturing capacity."
"Hanesbrands, Inc has stayed the course over the years with partnerships in Haiti and have provided over $2 million in near-term aid. We remain positive of our on-going ability to export millions of lbs of U.S. cotton-related products for use in Haiti," said Jerry Cook of Hanesbrands. "We are very encouraged by Ambassador Kirk's announcement today. We remain very hopeful that the combined effort will encourage others to invest in the opportunities and development of critical infrastructure badly needed for sustained development."
"We applaud this initiative to create a long-term program to expand the partnerships between the U.S. apparel brands, importers and retailers and the industry in Haiti," said President of USA-ITA Julia K. Hughes. "USA-ITA will work with our member companies who already source in Haiti, and will encourage our members who are new to Haiti to participate in the Plus One initiative."
"Gap Inc. decided to source product in Haiti before the earthquake because of the quality and efficiency of the workforce and its proximity to the U.S.," said Senior Director at GAP Mark D'Sa. "The earthquake has not changed our direction and we continue to work with our vendors in Haiti as they recover. We believe in doing good while doing well."
The Plus 1 for Haiti program builds on the ongoing, collaborative effort between the Office of the United States Trade Representative and American brands and retailers through utilization of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II). Currently, HOPE II allows duty-free access to the U.S. market for Haitian-made apparel and other articles, with the goals of fostering stability and economic development in Haiti. Companies participating in the Plus 1 for Haiti program can utilize existing HOPE II duty-free access for Haitian-made apparel, and the pledges for increased sourcing efforts will encourage investors to get Haitian factories fully operational as soon as possible.
To support the Plus 1 for Haiti program, as well as overall Haitian recovery, USTR will work with American companies, Haitian business leaders, and interagency officials to address existing roadblocks to Haitian apparel exports. Kirk also noted today that USTR looks forward to working with the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees in Congress as they seek to pass legislation regarding Haiti and trade.