COUNTRYAAH, Haiti is one of America's poorest countries and highly
dependent on financial aid from the United States, the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Agriculture is characterized by very low productivity and
extremely unequal ownership conditions. More than half the
country is owned by 4 per cent of the growers, while most
farmers have less than one acre. Haiti is far from
self-sufficient in food. Despite large food imports,
malnutrition is widespread. The economic importance of
coffee has diminished in the 2000s, but is still an
important export commodity. Other important export crops are
sugar and sisal, and the most important staple crop is
maize, with which Haiti is normally self-sufficient. In the
early 1900s, a large part of Haiti was covered with forests,
but the increasing population pressure has meant that almost
all of the forest has been felled for use as building
materials or fuel, which has led to extensive degradation.
In 2010, the capital Port-au-Prince was hit by a powerful
earthquake and nearly 225,000 people were killed. The city
and the country have still not recovered from this disaster.
The situation worsened further in 2012 when the country was
hit by tropical cyclone Sandy.
The country's industry, which employs 11 percent of the
workforce, consists of home-market consumer goods industry
and production for export to mainly the United States of
clothing and electrical products. Foreign (mainly American)
companies were attracted to Haiti in the 1980s by low wages,
tax benefits and free profit taking. However, as a result of
the 1991 trade embargo against Haiti, many of the companies
had to be closed down. Agricultural commodities dominate
exports, but the importance of industrial products has
increased. Imports, which normally exceed exports, consist
mainly of food, oil products and machinery. The United
States is the dominant trading partner.