Haiti: Risk Assessment
Country Risk Rating
Business Climate Rating
- Development and reconstruction programmes agreed with donors
- Membership of several regional organisations (Association of Caribbean States, Organisation of American States, CARICOM, CARIFORUM)
- Low level of development and extreme poverty (ranked 163rd out of 188 on HDI)
- Highly vulnerable to natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.)
- Fall-off in international aid since the 2010 earthquake (from 16.5% of GDP in 2011 to 5.6% in 2015)
- Inadequate infrastructures
- Political instability and insecurity
- Energy dependency
- Reliance on remittances from migrant workers abroad and on international aid
- Poor governance and difficult business climate
Improved Growth Prospects
Growth is expected to increase substantially, thanks to the recovery of the agricultural sector and a rise in remittances from expatriate workers. Nevertheless, it will still be impacted by political instability and high inflation. Even though inflation is falling, it will stay strong because of the gourde’s depreciation, and will continue to affect consumers’ purchasing power. Moreover, private consumption will still suffer from inequalities and poverty, with the population still suffering from food insecurity, the consequences of the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the cholera epidemic that killed 10,000 people and infected over 800,000. In addition, these natural disasters destroyed many of the country’s infrastructures. Industrial output will remain very weak, as manufacturing capacity is drastically reduced. Domestic investment, both private and public, will remain low, and foreign investment will continue to be discouraged by the political risk, internal unrest, and corruption. The textile sector will still be the main beneficiary of any investments, but a number of foreign companies have threatened to leave the country since the strikes called by workers in the sector in May 2017.
Ongoing Twin Deficits
The IMF monitored a new aid program between June and December 2017, aimed at helping the new government of Jovenel Moise to implement its economic program aimed at stimulating growth, in particular through better management of government revenues so as to fund public investment. The government’s agenda is focused on reconstructing the center of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and its airport, and on implementing an effective healthcare system. Funding for these projects is still uncertain, but should be obtained through public/private partnerships and international aid. However, international funds allocated to the island’s reconstruction are expected to decline further due to poor management. The budget is expected to continue to show a deficit in 2018 given the weak government revenues. Effectively, the fiscal position remains very complex, as budgets are rarely adopted by the Parliament, and when they are, the process is incomplete or comes too late. The public debt is expected to continue to rise.
Trade agreements with the United States will continue to boost the country’s exports, which will benefit the textile sector in particular through the HOPE agreement (Hemispheric Opportunity Through Partnership Encouragement). Imports of food and inputs for textile production are expected to increase, reflecting the challenges the country faces in trying to diversify production. Moreover, Venezuela provides the country with cheap oil, but the economic and political situation in Venezuela raises fears that this preferential regime will be stopped, increasing the cost of imports. The current account balance is, therefore, unlikely to improve significantly.
The New Government Faces Numerous Threats
The election of Jovenel Moise as President, chosen by the former Head of State, Michel Martelly, to succeed him as head of the Haitian Tet Kale (PHTK) Party, has admittedly reduced the level of political uncertainty since his investiture in February 2017, but it has not brought an end to instability. Accused of having been elected thanks to “dirty money”, President Moise has little legitimacy, especially as the turnout for his election was only 21.7%. Nevertheless, the PHTK won the parliamentary elections that followed the February 2017 elections, giving Jovenel Moise 31 seats out of 119 in the Chamber of Deputies and 11 out of 30 in the Senate. This does not give him a majority and the reforms needed, notably to revitalize agriculture and tourism, will be difficult to implement.
Social tensions will continue to be significant, with 2017 marked by a resurgence in confrontations between armed gangs. The government would like to create a new army during the year with the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) – already extended several times to facilitate the process of political transition and reconstruction – expiring in October 2017. It will be replaced by the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (Minujusth), made up of police rather than soldiers.
Diplomatically, Haiti opposed the suspension of Venezuela from the Organization of American States (OAS). This political move pits the country against the United States, its main donor and investor, and against the other countries in the OAS. Relations with the Dominican Republic are expected to remain tense, despite a resumption of talks following the election of President Noise.