Work began last year on the construction of the $300m Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti

Work began last year on the construction of the $300m Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti

South Korean apparel giant Sae-A Trading is on track to begin production later this year in Haiti, as part of a $300m multi-stakeholder effort to help the country back to economic growth following a devastating earthquake two years ago.

Sae-A Trading Co is the biggest investor in the Caracol Industrial Park, a massive production complex which, on completion, will be one of the largest and most modern in the Caribbean.

The company supplies major retailers and brands including Zara, H&M, Adidas, Gap, Wal-Mart, Target and JC Penney, and has committed US$85m to set up new vertical operations that will provide jobs for 20,000 Haitian workers.

The Haitian government, the US government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are also backing the 246-hectare park, which is being built in the north of the country. As well as Haiti's first textile mill with knitting and dyeing facilities, the construction will include electrical power, health facilities, housing units, and modernised port facilities.

As spokesperson told just-style the Sae-A production facility in the Caracol Industrial Park will officially open in late October, with the first 24 lines for the sewing factory beginning operation this year.

In total there will be 288 sewing lines producing various knitwear garments, phased in over the next four years. Running alongside them will be washing, print and embroidery, dyeing and knitting facilities.

The investment means Sae-A Trading will become the first manufacturer to produce apparel with textiles made in Haiti. This of course reduces its dependence on imported raw materials, and dramatically increases the value added component in Haiti for each garment manufactured.

As the single largest sector of Haiti's economy, the apparel industry is seen as playing a key role in the country's recovery from the earthquake that hit the country on 12 January 2010, killing nearly 300,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The Caracol facility is also seen as a crucial step in helping to break Haiti's dependence on foreign aid.

Before the disaster, clothing exports to the US were worth around $512m in 2009 - around 90% of the country's total exports - and the industry employed more than 25,000 Haitians.

"We believe that our commitment of technical expertise will elevate Haiti's apparel manufacturing industry to help make it a world class leader, and creation of jobs and skills will empower the Haitian people, and we believe will lead to greater prosperity," the Sae-A spokesperson said.

"The investment will be divided into two phases over a period of seven years. The success of this project will create a rare precedent for investment models in rebuilding a country."

Sae-A Trading is one of the largest apparel manufacturing companies in the world exporting over US$1.3bn worth of products from facilities in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. The company directly employs over 30,000 workers and another 20,000 at partner facilities.