Haiti’s newly elected officials are looking to show the world that they can make the country attractive to FDI, prime minister Laurent Lamothe said in a speech in US capital, Washington, DC. Having suffered from decades of impoverishment and government corruption, and more recently from a three-year embargo by the US and a catastrophic earthquake in 2010, the country is now trying to come back from these difficulties with a redevelopment and reconstruction effort.

“Job creation is a top priority because the majority of Haitians live on only $1 per day,” Mr Lamothe told attendees at a gathering for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Americas programme.

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While Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere, it holds promise in the reconstruction, energy and electricity, real estate, tourism, and mining sectors. Tourism especially is seeing growth. Hotel chains Occidental and Best Western are both scheduled to open resorts in the country this year, while Marriott plans to open a new hotel in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2014. Meanwhile, Haiti is readying itself to welcome its first cruise ship in 25 years in 2013.

The reconstruction of Port-au-Prince International Airport, which was largely destroyed in the earthquake in 2010, is nearly 95% complete, while a second airport, Cap Haitien International Airport – which is being financed by Venezuela – could be completed as soon as February 2013. Revitalisation of the Haitian city Jacmel is set to draw tourists to what was once referred to as the 'pearl of the Caribbean'. 

“We need the support of the private sector, and it is coming,” said Mr Lamothe.

Besides paving some 50 kilometres of road, improving ports and constructing public buildings, the government is also trying to move the Haitian populace out of crowded urban areas, especially Port-au-Prince. To that end, a 246-hectare park in north Haiti, Caracol Industrial Park, is being developed and is expected to become a model for other such projects elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Thousands of jobs are anticipated to be created as a result of investment in the Caracol Industrial Park. Already, South Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A Co has invested $78m and has committed to hiring at least 20,000 Haitians to work there. This is the largest single investment in modern Haitian history. But perhaps the biggest news comes from the mining sector, since an estimated $20bn-worth of gold was recently discovered in the country. 

“There are a few mining companies here now, but we want to make the right decisions before signing contracts,” said Mr Lamonthe. “Mining royalties would make a big difference in improving Haitians lives and the infrastructure of the country.”