An initiative introduced to help stimulate apparel exports from Haiti following the devastating earthquake that hit the country nearly two years ago has been used by just one company this year, a review of the scheme has shown.

Instead of the Earned Import Allowance Program (EIAP), apparel exporters are using other more flexible provisions - such as the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act and the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) - the Government Accountability Office (GAO) admitted this week.

Exporters also consider other HOPE II provisions to be simpler and more advantageous because they can import most types of apparel duty-free, regardless of the fabric's source, without being required to purchase any kind of qualifying inputs or to register for a programme. 

The EIAP initiative is part of the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010. Under this scheme, for every 2-square-metre equivalent (SME) of qualifying fabric a firm imports to Haiti, it earns a credit to export 1 SME of apparel produced in Haiti to the US duty-free, regardless of the source of the fabric.

In this way, EIAP is designed to both aid Haiti's apparel industry and encourage the use of US-manufactured inputs.

However, the Government Accountability Office says that in 2011, only one company has opted to use EIAP to export apparel from Haiti to the US. The value of these exports (about $350,000) represents 0.2% of total apparel exports under HOPE II - and just 0.07% of total apparel exports from Haiti to the US under all preference programmes in the eight months to August.

During the same period, total apparel exports from Haiti to the US were valued at about $465m. Of this, around $140m was exported under various provisions of HOPE II, including EIAP, and about $313m were exported under the CBTPA.

Three other companies have established EIAP accounts, but not all of these accounts are being used to earn credits, and those with credits have not used them to export apparel from Haiti to the US.