US apparel imports (in square metres) grew 3.4% in December 2016 over December 2015, though falls in the previous six months a 2016 annual fall of 1.1%.
Haiti’s President Michel Martelly announced a 6.7% rise in minimum wages for the country’s garment workers on May 1.
Gildan owns garment assembly plants in the Dominican Republic, but uses third-party suppliers in Haiti. Though it is usually just one of several clients at the Haitian plants, it is consistently the client cited whenever a dispute occurs.
The US announced a near-tripling of its Haiti tariff rate quota for the year to September 30, 2014 – on October 21, three weeks after the cut-off date.
Caracol Industrial Park in the North forced to close most of May 5-7 workers protest over the lack of a road. Sporadic protests at the CODEVI park in Ouanaminthe over inadequate power supply, water and road repairs in the area. “Police brutality” claims during Mayday riots over minimum wage offer
12.5% increase with effect from May 1 to $5.11 per day. Inflation in 2013 was 3.2%: unions wanted $10.97.
Claims that, in spite of November promise to ensure minimums are paid, no action yet
Disturbingly similar, deep rooted, tensions – seldom directly linked to garment industry issues – are at the root of most violence recently disturbing Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Thailand, Egypt, and Malaysia. There are interesting questions about why similar problems have not hit other major garment manufacturing centres – but at the end of 2013, political violence was probably looking a greater risk for many garment buyers than risks from bad weather, ethical concerns or unpredictable shifts in input prices.
All agree on one thing: things aren’t getting much better
Two days of violence around Port au Prince over “200%” minimum wage calls
Official comment is muted: activists say it “accuses Haitian garment factories of not being safe enough for their workers”
The HELP Act, trebling the amount of garments made from Asian fabric Haiti can export duty-free to the US, has received an easy and rapid passage through the US Congress. But this is no indication other trade preference Bills under discussion will get anything like the same benign reception.
Should the US increase the amount of clothing Haiti may export duty-free?
Well, put like that, who could possibly say no? There’s a Bill before the US Congress to increase the amount of clothes that can be made in Haiti from fabric made outside the Americas and get duty-free entry to the US. From 70 million square metres to 250 million.
It’s impossible to know with any certainty how much devastation the recent earthquake has caused in Haiti. But, just a day after the quake hit, two unspoken tragedies are revealing themselves.