Haiti Economy Facts

Economical overview

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and a large part of the population lives in deep poverty. The gap between the poor and the rich is huge. The country is severely affected by natural disasters that have caused enormous damage to infrastructure and agriculture. Between several severe hurricanes in 2008 and 2016 came the great earthquake in early 2010.

Haiti’s economy would collapse completely without international aid and money sent by Haitians abroad. The money shipments, the remittances, corresponded to just over one third of GDP in 2019.

  • Countryaah.com: Major imports by Haiti, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Ten years earlier, in 2009, international lenders approved Haiti’s attempts at economic reform and donated more than 60 percent of the country’s US $ 1.9 billion foreign debt.

After the 2010 earthquake, the world quickly pledged the equivalent of about $ 10 billion to the reconstruction of the country and most of the remaining debt was written off. At the same time, the country was promised new loans. The devastation of the earthquake, and the loss of jobs, may have cost the country up to US $ 14 billion, equivalent to more than two years of GDP.

Yet several years after the earthquake, only about two-thirds of the promised money was estimated to have been paid out, most to various aid organizations and not directly to the Haitian government, which was not always trusted.

  • Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including HTI which represents the country of Haiti. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Haiti.

Agriculture and industry

The old main industry, agriculture, is responsible for a little over a fifth of GDP despite major shortcomings. The industry consists primarily of textile industries and small compound factories for export, but violence and corruption have slowed foreign investment and economic reform. Haiti has had difficulty coping with competition from other low-wage countries with more stable conditions and better infrastructure.

The majority of well-educated Haitians have fled the country. One of the few “industries” that is booming is the smuggling of cocaine from Latin America via Haiti to the United States.

The 1991-1994 military regime and the resulting international sanctions caused a sharp economic downturn. In 1995, however, loans and assistance from abroad began to flow again. The economy began to recover and some reforms were initiated, a demand from donors. Among other things, the number of government employees was reduced and two of the country’s nine fallen state companies were privatized. But financial neglect and political disputes led to a reduction in foreign direct aid to the state to cease completely in 2001.

Following the fall of President Aristide in 2004 (see Modern History), a new collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began in an effort to get the economy settled. After 2005, GDP has grown every year with the exception of the 2010 disaster year, but never with the 6 to 7 percent that would be required to reduce poverty.

Corruption, tax evasion and inefficient authorities have led to small tax collections, only about 10 per cent of GDP.

trade Deficit

Foreign trade data is often uncertain, but officially there is a very large trade deficit, which is dominated by textiles and clothing, mangoes and coffee, and with the United States as by far the largest trading partner. In 2016, imports were more than three times that of exports. Deficits are largely offset by foreign aid and money sent by Haitians abroad. For several years, these contributions from the exile have been more than twice the country’s export earnings. While foreign Haitians have become more generous, there is a growing fatigue in international donors, not least with the United States following Donald Trump’s presidency.

Haiti has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1996. In 2006, the country joined the so-called Petrocaribe Agreement, a kind of aid program intended to give states in the region access to Venezuelan oil on favorable terms. But Petrocaribe has in practice been put out of operation since 2018, as a result of the crisis in Venezuela and US sanctions on the country. In addition, there were data in 2018 that a large part of the aid money in Haiti had dissipated, which has grown into a political scandal (see Calendar).


GDP per person

US $ 868 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 9,658 million (2018)

GDP growth

1.5 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

21.0 percent (2016) 1

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

19.0 percent (2016) 2

The service sector’s share of GDP

60.0 percent (2016) 3


17.6 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

33.3 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 2,213 million (2017)



Merchandise exports

US $ 1,078 million (2018)


US $ 4 484 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 343 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

61 percent (2018)

Main export goods

clothing, shoes, cocoa, mango fruit, essential oils, coffee

Largest trading partner

USA, Dominican Republic, Netherlands Antilles, China

  1. estimate made by europaworld.com
    2. estimate made by europaworld.com
    3. estimate made by europaworld.com



New Prime Minister appointed

Michèle Pierre-Louis succeeds Alexis as Prime Minister (see April 2008).

Severe storms hit Haiti

Since four tropical storms hit Haiti in August and September, it has been found that nearly 800 Haitians have died and a million have become homeless.


Promise for extra food assistance

The United States and the World Bank announce that Haiti will receive extra food assistance totaling approximately $ 30 million.


The Prime Minister is set aside after food scraps

April 12

Food cravings erupt since prices for basic commodities have risen sharply. Prime Minister Alexis is dismissed by the Senate, accused of responding too slowly and ineffectively to the problem of rising food prices.



UN support in the fight against crime

UN force Minustah, together with police, launch an offensive against criminal leagues in Cité Soleil, one of the largest and most violent slums in Port-au-Prince. The leagues that deal with arms and drug smuggling are guilty of numerous murders and kidnappings.

Haiti Economy Facts

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