Haiti-Dominican Republic Trade, a Ticking Time Bomb

Although, Haiti is a free market economy that enjoys the advantages of low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports, some of the serious impediments to its economic growth are poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, lack of proper economic planning and low levels of education for much of the population. Every year, thousands of Haitians risk to cross the Dominican border illegally in search of low-wage jobs in construction and agriculture, and at the big all-inclusive resorts, albeit they become victims of racism and xenophobia in the DR. The marketplace at the Croix des Bossales is flooded with Dominican products likes of carrots, cabbages, and all other vegetables along with pasta, eggs, tomato pastes, mayonnaise and other prepared foods.


Haiti produces foods no doubt, but the majority of its consumption comes from the Dominicans. Haitian cements are good, but it is more expensive than Dominican cements. The Haitian state was never capable to defend Haitian economic actors.

The local producers are unable to sell their produce as there is no proper infrastructure for marketing. Its 'neoliberal economic policies' have resulted reduction of protective tariffs, privatization of state industries, and cuts to social services...practically it did nothing other than benefiting importers. Since 1995, Haiti's trade deficit has widened from about $500 million to about $2.2 billion in 2011-12 fiscal year. As per IMF statistics, the food deficit of $242 million in 2000 has grown to $342 million in 2007. According to the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture's 2005 record, Haiti had imported 57% of its goods in 2005. The recent figure would be much more today.

In 2013, the GDP (purchasing power parity) in Haiti was $13.42 billion, compared to $101 billion of the DR, and with GDP per capita figure of $1,300 and $9,700 respectively during the same period. The export/ import figures of Haiti in 2013 were $876.8 million / $2.697 billion against the Dominican figures of $9,825 billion/ $16.8 billion respectively. The U.S with 87% share was Haiti's main export partner in 2012, while the DR had the following partnership pattern: US 47%, Haiti 16.1%, China 4.3%. Once in 1937, these two neighboring states had the same per capita income. But today, as the Haitian economy is continuously sloping downward, more and more it is becoming dependable on its next neighbor for support from the other side of the border. If it ever goes off like a bomb, there will be nowhere for them to go.

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