THE American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM) plans to lead a trade mission to Haiti from June 14 to 19, 2015. Chief Executive Officer of AMCHAM, Nirad Tewarie, said the trade mission was timed to take advantage of the Business Futures of the Americas Conference, a meeting of members, directors and Presidents of the American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean which will be held in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, while the members of the trade mission are there.
A statement from AMCHAM said the Business Futures of the Americas Conference provides a unique opportunity for business people from Trinidad and Tobago who sign up for the trade mission to network with business leaders from the Caribbean and Latin America.
The statement said executives from 24 American Chambers of Commerce and the US Chamber of Commerce will also be there.
Announcing the planned mission at the Normandie Hotel yesterday, Tewarie said that up to a few weeks ago he would have been skeptical about the idea of a trade mission to Haiti “because of what we see in the media generally and various reports coming out of Haiti over the years.” But Tewarie said he and another AMCHAM executive visited Haiti recently and found the situation in the country “a far cry” from what they expected.
“I walked the streets in a suit,” he said, “and nobody told me to ‘take off your watch and hide it in your pocket,’ as they do in some other countries and you see a lot of activity, a lot of entrepreneurship from the people themselves.”
He said that since the earthquake which devastated Haiti in 2010 and the hurricane which followed two years later, there was a concerted effort by both the Haitian people and the international community to rebuild the country.
“Haiti has been growing at an average of about 3.4 percent over the last five years notwithstanding having to suffer the effects of a hurricane two years after the big earthquake whereas Trinidad and Tobago, for example, has been relatively flat or at 1 percent growth for the last year or so, depending on whose figures we use.
In addition to which, notwithstanding the difference in official language, Haitians are Caribbean people and therefore there is a lot of congruity in terms of culture and a lot of similarity.”
He said Haiti imports more than seventy percent of the goods it consumes, amounting to some US$2 billion worth of products every year. Tewarie said some of these are goods which could easily be provided by Trinidad and Tobago businesses.
He said businesses which enter Haiti now, as it is trying to rebuild will have the advantages of being there first.
Tewarie said despite public perception, a lot has been happening in Haiti since the earthquake and hurricane. He said a Marriot hotel has been built by Digicel, adding that the Digicel Group and its Chief Executive Officer, personally, apart from the group, has been investing heavily in Haiti outside the mobile phone market, “and has become one of their most famous business ambassadors.”
He said the Heinekin Group is investing in Haiti and recently bought up a brewery there. He added that the Chairman of the Business Futures of the Americas (BFA) Conference – a meeting of AMCHAMS in Latin America and the Caribbean – and the Vice President of AMCHAM Haiti work at the brewery.
Article courtesy Trinidad & Tobago Newsday at