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9697: Durban to Karshan on creating 100,000 jobs (fwd)
From: Lance Durban <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My query last week about the Haitian Government's plans to
create the 500,000 jobs promised a year ago was not intended to
annoy. Indeed, if a campaign promise is made there should be
some plan to bring it to fruition. (Mind you, if it was only
campaign rhetoric, then the office holder should be ready to
answer some difficult questions... first and foremost by the
people who voted him into office). But please, bear with me...
The latest issue of "Bobbin", a trade publication for the
sewing industry includes some interesting trade data showing
that both Haiti and the DR have lost market share of U.S.
clothing imports in the past year:
12 Months % of Total U.S. % Change from
Ending Clothing Imports Previous Year
------------ ---------------- -------------
HAITI 06/30/99 0.49% n/a
06/30/00 0.44% +0.80%
06/30/01 0.42% -2.64%
DOMINICAN 06/30/99 4.60% n/a
REPUBLIC 06/30/00 4.24% +3.80%
06/30/01 4.08% -0.35%
That's right, the DR's considerably smaller population ships 10
times Haiti's volume. Shocking statistics when one starts with
the fact that sewing is a very labor intensive business that
should favor the least expensive labor force. It still takes
lots of people operating relatively inexpensive machines sewing
zillions of pieces of fabric together to create the clothes we
all wear. Indeed, low wages have almost completely knocked U.S.
labor out of the picture even though Americans buy tons of
Now, there are lots of people who think that Haiti shouldn’t
bother with such low wage jobs. Corbett people in that camp
(Kathy Dorce, Tom Driver, et al) might like to propose other
sources of new employment for 500,000 job seekers. Personally,
I favor sticking with the tried and true where a ready market
Let’s assume we want to increase Haiti's U.S. market share by a
factor of 10... We want to be supplying 4.2% of the clothing
imported into the U.S. by the time your patron, President
Aristide, leaves office. If 10,000 Haitians are employed in
sewing for export now (my guess), a tenfold increase in the U.S.
import market will require the creation of 100,000 new jobs... a
bit less than what was promised, but heck this is only one
So how do we get there? Here are 7 concrete proposals that
don’t cost much:
1. President Aristide should get out and spend a couple of
days visiting a half dozen sewing plants... to listen
and learn. Local management already in this industry
is the best source of information on what is needed to
expand market share tenfold.
2. Facilitate the accelerated import and export of
containers of work. Recognize that taxing imports of
piecework which is going to be re-exported will deter
such work from ever entering Haiti in the first place.
Countless jobs have already been driven elsewhere by
your Ministry of Finance and I can give specifics.
3. Encourage potential customer visits to Haiti and roll
out the red carpet as most other countries do. Work
out a huge discount with a local hotel for first time
business prospects who have registered with the
Ministry of Commerce and/or the Association of Haitian
4. Solicite a new kind of bi-lateral aid from Taiwan. Ask
them to assist THEIR textile (fabric) manufacturers by
paying for free shipment of containers containing
fabric to Haiti. In exchange, offer them duty free
entry of ALL such fabric shipments even those for the
local market. Your natural ally are Taiwanese textile
mills. Suddenly your industry will be able to offer
'full package' to U.S. customers at truly competitive
prices. (Figure out how many jobs are created by each
container to help with your scorekeeping assignment in
point 7 below).
5. Check out Haiti Trade Mission 2002 on my company's
website <www.manutec.com>. This subsidized weekend
excursion next March for potential investors is geared
mostly to our electronics business, but if President
Aristide will come out and be one of the keynote
speakers at our Sunday Morning Conference, we’d be
glad to work with the Association of Haitian
Manufacturers to use our weekend event to match sewing
people from the States with Haitian companies already
in the business.
6. Most sewing contractors pay by piecework, and my guess
is that most Haitian contractors are using either a
completely manual or rudimentary computer system...
costly and error-prone. My company has a fully
automated piecework payroll system that is perfect for
sewing (regrettably, somewhat less appropriate for our
electronics business). We would be amenable to
making it available to the Haitian sewing industry
assuming the U.S. software owner is protected.
7. Keep score and change mindset. The Haitian Government
should know exactly how many people are employed in
this sector every month, and all Ministries should be
made aware of the importance of raising the score.
Keeping score is the easy part, however; since many
Haitian Ministries currently see the private sector
as the enemy and act accordingly! Getting public and
private sectors to work toward the same goal is a given
in the States, but quite the opposite in Haiti.
In closing, I do applaud your public relations efforts to
promote Haiti. I continue to believe, however, that private
sector job creation will do a lot more for your country than any
international loans. The latter, I fear, would only be
frittered away with little to show.
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