WASHINGTON — As part of an effort to address the long-term needs of the Haitian people, the United States needs to extend trade preferences for Haiti, said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a Feb. 19 letter, Bishop Hubbard called on the Senate Foreign Relations and Finance Committees to support the “Renewing Hope for Haitian Trade and Investment Act” (S. 2978) so that it moves quickly through the legislative process.
“While an integrated vision of what it will take to help Haiti recover from the earthquake of January 12, 2010 is needed, the people of Haiti cannot wait until a comprehensive strategic plan is developed,” Bishop Hubbard wrote. “The bill represents an important start and an opportunity to improve the lives of the Haitian people.”
The bishop noted that the “Renewing Hope for Haitian Trade and Investment Act” would extend the preferences already granted to Haiti under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership (HOPE II) Act of 2008 and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act. The latter is due to expire in October and is already influencing importers’ fall season orders of apparel goods manufactured in Haiti. S 2978 would extend HOPE II through 2022 and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act through 2013.
Bishop Hubbard noted that improvements could be made to S. 2978.
“Down the road it will be important to adopt broader preferential treatment for Haitian goods, but immediately extending the existing preferences will be important to the sustainable development of Haiti,” he wrote. “While under this modest legislation Haitian factories are still limited in what they can produce and export under the U.S. preference program to basic garments that have ‘little’ value added, extending the existing trade preferences will help the Haitian economy quickly create badly needed jobs and can reduce poverty in the long-term as well as encourage exporters to rebuild more quickly.”
The letter from Bishop Hubbard can be found online at: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/2010-02-19-let-hubbard-senate-haiti.pdf