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#1945: Why is Investment in Haiti so Unattractive? (fwd)

From: Merrill Smith <advocacy@bellatlantic.net>

> From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>
> The last of the big commercial sugar mills were closed down in the late
> 1980's (including HASCO) because the Haitian business elite who owned them
> realised they could make higher profits by importing sugar from abroad. In a
> land where sugar cane grew in abundance for three centuries, there is
> nowhere for sugar cane to be processed (on a large scale), nowhere for sugar
> to be produced, no domestic sugar production, no domestic employment, no
> domestic market, no equitable economic development...

It actually wouldn't have mattered if the sugar mill owners realized
this or not. If _anybody_ realized that foreign sugar was cheaper than
that grown and refined in Haiti, they would import it. Of course, you
could have tariffs and other trade barriers to keep it out but, if you
did, then HASCO's owners would be the chief beneficiaries (and Haitian
consumers the chief losers).

The real question is _why_ it is so expensive to produce sugar in Haiti.
Lyall's post shed some (rather dismal) light on the dechoukaj problem.
Is that the reason?

Haiti was actually allocated a chunk of the U.S. sugar import quota
(which keeps prices several times higher than the open market -- again,
principally for the benefit of U.S. producers) but could not profitably
produce even at that artificially high price. The DR could and this
generated some employment for Haitians in the bateys (under bad
conditions, I know, but again, the grim question to be addressed is why
work in the DR, dismal as it may be, is evidently better than anything
these workers could find in Haiti).

It would seem more productive to address the reasons why investment in
Haiti is so unattractive than it is to rail against those who make the
rational decision not to do it or to beg for charity or to attempt to
coerce it or even (as some perversely do) rail against those who _do_
invest in Haiti.