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CGI 2011: Haiti Development Workshop

[updates and edits, especially in the 4th-6th grafs]

“The winner” in Haitian development created 12,000 jobs in the garment industry in the past eight years in Haiti.  Seems as if all of the participants today will be garment manufacturers, though WJC notes that companies such as Coca-Cola and Newmont Mining are also considering investment.

When I sent an email out indicating that I was thinking of attending, the best response I got to questions you would like to ask was “Is Haiti doomed forever to be the developed world’s sweat shop? Will it ever be allowed to have an agricultural economy of its own?”

Only 43% of the aid pledged after the earthquake nearly two years ago has been disbursed today. (Take that, “shovel-ready” complainers!) WJC: “Haiti will not have a sustainable economy unless there are new investments, new jobs, and new business.”  President Clinton describes the disaster as “best opportunity in my lifetime” for the country.” (I’m guessing this is in the same way as education privatization has worked in New Orleans since Katrina.)  Most of the donor monies have not gone through the local institutions, but President Martelly is determined to have local government integrated in the discussions. 

As an example of the problems before the earthquake, WJC notes that there was no market in lending—even mortgage lending—in the country before now.

WJC describes Donna Karan as “Haiti has taken over her life to the extent that I am now a back-bencher.”  I think this is a positive statement.  Also gets a pledge for development from the new group run by Mohammed Yunus (who I interviewed at the 2009 CGI) and one other group [update: Zafen appears to be the other Commitment].

WJC, leading up to the President of Haiti, mentions that W. described the President of the United States as the “decider in chief.” Clinton said that he rather agrees with that statement, noting of Martelly that “This man will make a decision.” He also declares that most of them have been good ones, something he did not say, at least now, about GWB.

The President of Haiti Michel Martelly rehashes some of these points in more detail and discusses the plans of his administration to make it easier to start a business in Haiti and complete a new Industrial Park, with two more apparel companies and a furniture manufacturer joining there by the end of the year. Working with USAID, IADB, and others to ensure that their business-friendly approach will be highlighted around the world. Revamping processes and reshaping policies to create trade agreements with other countries, such as Brazil, using the model of the 10-year agreement with the United States.

Upsides: free education for all pledged, as well as opening a state university and (separate) vocational school.  Will be subsidizing the education of 772,000 Haitian children and leverage their location near the largest market (U.S.) and the “booming markets of Latin America.”

WJC notes that even the long-antagonistic Dominican Republic has worked with Haiti to rebuild since the earthquake.

First speaker is Magalie Dresse, owner, Caribbean Craft, who notes that her business has expanded rapidly thanks in large part to Donna Karan’s commitment and some major effort from Ms. Dresse herself.

A representative from the Haiti Action Network—or perhaps Denis O’Brien of Digicell—follows, claiming that Haiti has been a democracy for only five years.  He’s still alive, and follows that by declaring that “there’s no country that has more creativity than Haiti.”

Luis Alberto Moreno, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), follows, declaring that the five-month President”inspired us all.” (I’m hoping I misheard that and that he was really referencing WJC.)  He then goes on to talk about “Juan Valdez” and the Colombian coffee industry.  I cannot tell if the audience is too polite, too young (doesn’t look like the way to bet), or just too stunned.  But he goes on to make good points about possible developments that would not be dependent on the rag trade.

President Martelly speaks again; it’s easy to understand why people like him, and he clearly has a vision for agricultural development as well as economic development.  Not certain I would quit my job to work for him, but it would be worth thinking about.

The next speaker is Woong-Ki Kim, chairman of the Sae-A Trading Company—or, more accurately, Ron Garwood, who is working as his interpreter. Chairman Kim has several reasons for his Haitian investment, including shorter delivery times, “an abundant and motivated labor supply,” a preferential Trade Agreement with the U.S. that provides duty-free entry, and that the U.S. and the IADB are building up the North Industrial Park, including an eco-friendly , state-of-the-art waste-water treatment plant, a power plant, and housing, not to mention giving them land (150 hectares, if I heard correctly). Mr. Alberto Moreno notes that another Korean company—a Fiber-Optic firm—and an American furniture company are also seriously planning to move into that park to create jobs.

WJC, who I still maintain is rivaled by no one in his ability to process and retain data, asks about sugar production in Haiti, noting that it is very fragmented and strongly concentrated in rum manufacturers.  Mr. Alberto Moreno notes that the IADB has been speaking with the Brazilians about their recent efforts in using sugar cane as energy and leveraging that technology into power generation. Haiti pays the highest KwH power cost of anywhere.  “This is insane.” – WJC.  As most of this is effluvia to sugar generation, the marginal cost is almost solely derived from capital investment—virtually no labor cost, even if you provide better (“good”) income to workers.  Mr. Alberto Moreno confirms President Clinton’s vision for energy generation, noting the hydropower generation opportunities as well.

President Martelly notes that Haitian are working to produce sugar—in Santo Domingo.  Providing the opportunities at home would cause repatriation and improve human capital. (“They would rather stay home and do it—so we should try it.”)

Talk goes to tourism, with the best sight gag of the day: President Martelly says, “I could stand up and tell you”—stands up—“that Haiti is the most beautiful country in the world.”  He then goes on to note that voudoun is an attraction. (Maybe I would quit my job and work for his government after all.)

Mr.O’Brien notes that he toured Haiti this summer and that there are many opportunities for “boutique” hotels (20 rooms or fewer) and other boutiques in areas—“either way, left or right, as you come out of the airport”—that are growing in other areas but are underavailable to tourism.

(Having been to Punta Cana, I suspect that the areas outside of Port-au-Prince are more diverse, and therefore more interesting, than those in the DR.  But I could be wrong; if I am, please note so in comments,)

WJC notes that former colonies tend to have “a legacy rules-based government.” (This is standard cant among the technocratic center, with a large grain of truth and somewhat deliberate elision of the reason many of those rules were put in place initially.)

Ms. Dresse notes that Donna Karan’s declaration that the potential for Caribbean Craft is 20-30,000 more jobs “underestimates the potential.”

Mr. Alberto Moreno closes with an announcement of an investor conference on 29-30 November in Haiti. “Guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.”  Had more than 300 investors from Latin America at a conference three months  before the earthquake.

The abiding feeling from this presentation—for me at least—is that the Latin American countries and Korea recognize and are moving toward an opportunity. Whether U.S. investors are so enthusiastic is still TBD.

Clinton Global Initiative, Day 2 – Plenary Session

The second day of the conference, and the first full of the Initiative, is devoted primarily to E&E.

Random notes:

  • President Clinton noted in his opening statement that the Haitian disaster’s immediate effect was to eliminate (kill) 17% of the Haitian workforce.
  • Melinda Gates notes that her efforts are mostly aligned with MDG #4, but it is only through achieving that that they can possibly achieve MDG #1.
  • President Clinton notes that, as an economy develops, age of marriage goes up and birth rate goes down. (Collaterally, this dovetails well with Melinda Gates’s point that we have made great strides in reducing infant mortality.)
  • Eric Schmidt notes that mobile telephony/devices facilitates business, communications, and knowledge; “allows the world to be one world.”
    • Schmidt compares this with President Clinton’s initiative fifteen (15) years previously to put wired computers in all public schools.
  • Melinda Gates notes that smaller groups have to work through goal-oriented process and adapt/learn “on the ground.”
    • Gates Foundation works to reduce risk, but ultimately need to be working with and have the cooperation of the local Government.  (Examples: Ethiopia and Malawi, both of which are working toward goals and identifying the steps along the way, not just declaring the overall view.)
      • Smaller organizations can do the same thing—but really need to pay attention to the facts on the ground. (Example from Ms. Gates was Save the Children.
  • Bob McDonald of P&G works with the governments and other partners.
    • Have reduced the cost of water purification to about $0.01/liter—a “dime a day” to provide clean water for a family of four.
  • What should all the leaders of countries be thinking about with respect to technology?  Eric Schmidt: Goal is to create as many new jobs as possible through using and leveraging the technology that is available. The concentration shouldn’t be on the educational and analytical part so much as “creating jobs.
  • President Clinton asks President Tarja Halonen of Finland what she would do if she were elected the President of Haiti.
    • Encourage creativity; even the smallest entrepreneur is an entrepreneur.
    • “I would speak to the women….I would ask that the President of Haiti would [take] the good counsel of the women.”
  • President Clinton asks the key question: “Why, in 2010, do we still have to have these sessions about the need for female empowerment?”

More Haiti

The flak started quickly. Rusty suggested taking Red Cross training and being part of the solution—the very solution that can’t reach the country. kharris compared me (un?)favorably to The Drudge Report for saying (after Robert Gates did) that the delivery obstruction was “deliberate.”

The problem is the evidence keeps mounting—and it’s all on my side. Exhibit One:

US forces last week turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, prompting a complaint from French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet. The plane landed safely the following day.

Exhibit Two:

The State Department has also been denying many seriously injured people in Port-au-Prince visas to be transferred to Miami for surgery and treatment, said Dr. William O’Neill, the dean of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, which has erected a field hospital near the airport there.

“It’s beyond insane,” Dr. O’Neill said Saturday, having just returned to Miami from Haiti. “It’s bureaucracy at its worse.”

Exhibit Three (wrong people doing distribution):

When the aid helicopters descend on the Pétionville Club golf course, once a playground for the wealthy and now a sprawling city of makeshift tents, the residents hurry toward them. But to get there, they must climb a steep embankment to a landing zone on top of a hill where the 82nd Airborne Division distributes the food and water….

The elderly get priority, but some of them cannot make it up. Families with young children also have priority, so some people are said to have borrowed babies and hauled them up the hill….

Since members of the 82nd Airborne, from Fort Bragg, N.C., began distributing food on Saturday, their delivery method has evolved.

On the first day they wore rifles slung around their backs. By Monday, they had ditched the rifles and were trying to present themselves more as aid workers than as soldiers. [emphases mine]

This is the job usually done by the Red Cross (or that was done the first few days in New Orleans by the SCA, who had the advantage of knowing how to move a large amount of supplies through mud and floods), and who know the issues involved in distribution. This is the job those $10 contributions by texting are supposed to be supporting.

This is the job that isn’t being done for nonexistent “security” issues.

New Orleans, without the SCA

Via Constance, I see that the donations are pouring in. Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), Partners in Health, even the American Red Cross.

There is supply. And there is clearly demand. But it appears that delivery is being deliberately impeded:

As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port-au-Prince, and as news networks report a massive international effort to deliver emergency aid, the people in the shattered city are wondering when they will see help….

BBC reporter Andy Gallagher told an 8 pm (Pacific Time) broadcast tonight that he had traveled “extensively” in Port-au-Prince during the day and saw little sign of aid delivery. He said he was shown nothing but courtesy by the Haitians he encountered. Everywhere he went he was taken by residents to see what had happened to their neighbourhood, their homes and their lives. Then they asked, “Where is the help?”

“When the Rescue teams arrive,” Gallagher said, “they will be welcomed with open arms.”…

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates…was asked by media in Washington why relief supplies were not being delivered by air. He answered, “It seems to me that air drops will simply lead to riots.”

Gates says that “security” concerns are impeding the delivery of aid. But Gallagher responded directly to that in his report, saying, “I’m not experiencing that.”

Describing the airport, Gallagher reported, “There are plenty of materials on the ground and plenty of people there. I don’t know what the problem is with delivery.”

The longer the wait, the more likely the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. Which still does not make it true. And, in this case, there is no Superdome to store people in.