The letter, which was written by the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) to the US government, calls for the “immediate and long-term” reauthorisation of the HOPE/HELP Acts ahead of its expiry in 2025.
These trade preference programmes allow duty-free access to certain apparel products from Haiti and the letter highlights renewal will serve as security for both businesses operating in Haiti and Haitians employed within the garment sector.
In fact, a report from the US International Trade Commission showed the value of US imports of apparel from Haiti increased 2.1% to $866.7m in 2017, with the value of imports entering under the HOPE/HELP Acts increasing 7.9% to $577m.
The letter points out US Congress agrees that nearshoring for apparel production is a top priority and the co-signees believe Haiti’s apparel sector has the potential to play a transformative role in this effort.
The organisations are calling for a seamless renewal of the HOPE/HELP Acts without further delay so Haiti remains a “viable nearshoring option for businesses.”
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The letter states: “Our Associations represent US businesses that invest in this sector, and our industry relies on predictability. We strongly urge Congress to renew this essential legislation for at least a further ten years.
“The recent uptick in gang violence and deteriorating security situation has made Haiti an increasingly difficult place to do business. Nevertheless, several factories and buyers have worked through these challenges and remained in Haiti. As HOPE/HELP is set to expire in 2025, these factories and buyers are making decisions now about whether to continue doing business in Haiti.
“HOPE/HELP has been foundational in facilitating investment in Haiti’s garment sector and the security of this programme’s long-term renewal is critical for continued operations in the region. With the programme expiring in two short years, every month that goes by without a reauthorisation increases the risk of factories and buyers leaving Haiti. Some already have.”
Moreover, the conglomeration believes that despite the challenges Haiti faces, HOPE/HELP has allowed it to build a “thriving garment sector.”
Finally, it notes that the Administration strongly supports the renewal of this programme and recently called upon US Congress to take action, noting: “At this critical time, it is important that producers and investors in Haiti, those they do business with, and the workers upon whom they rely have certainty about the uninterrupted continuation of the HOPE/HELP programme.”