12/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/03/2021 14:07
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Haitian Hemisphere Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act and the Haitian Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act. The HOPE Act, introduced as a response to an economic downturn in Haiti in 2005, removes duties from Haitian apparel exports to the United States. The HELP Act, passed by Congress following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, broadens the types of goods eligible for duty free status to over 5,000 types of apparel and footwear. Together, the bills apply to almost 93 percent of Haitian exports to the U.S. and employs more than 56,000 Haitians. The bill would extend these programs through 2035 and will not add to the deficit.
"Families in Haiti are desperate following repeated natural disasters and unrest," said Dr. Cassidy. "Extending trade benefits is good for the U.S., provides the starving Haitian people with needed resources, and will help stem the exodus from the island."
"As Haiti continues to confront political corruption, natural disasters, and rampant crime, it is clear that it is in our national security interest to support our regional neighbor," said Senator Rubio. "This bipartisan bill will help strengthen Haiti's economy and benefit the U.S. by decreasing our nation's dependency on goods manufactured with forced labor in China. Our mutual benefit will encourage safety and prosperity in our hemisphere."
Representatives María Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
"In 2021 alone, the Haitian people have suffered a devastating earthquake, the assassination of their president, emboldened criminal gangs, and an ever-growing economic crisis," said Representative Salazar. "The HELP Extension Act will allow the Haitian people to improve their livelihoods and rebuild their country by ensuring the 60,000+ Haitians in the textile industry continue to enjoy the benefits of unfettered trade with the United States. As one of our closest allies in the Western Hemisphere, we have an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of our Haitian neighbors. That is why I am proud to introduce this crucial bill."
"I am incredibly proud to be a lead co-sponsor of the Haiti Economic Lift Program Extension Act, which will help boost the Haitian apparel industry's economic stability and is sorely needed in a nation where there is so much economic and political insecurity," said Representative Wilson, who represents one of the largest Haitian communities in the United States. "Apparel exports represent a significant portion of the nation's exports and have created tens of thousands of jobs. This extension will create even more."
Cassidy called on the Biden administration to address growing economic and security concerns in Haiti last September, crediting economic and security instability for the island's mass recent exodus.