Follow-up on the Haiti Earned Import Allowance Program
GAO-13-219R: Published: Dec 14, 2012. Publicly Released: Dec 14, 2012.
What GAO Found
Exports of Haitian apparel to the United States under EIAP have increased substantially since we last reported in 2011. Although only three account holders are actively earning credits and two have begun to use them, in the 12-month period ending November 19, 2012, the number of credits OTEXA issued increased to about 42 million SMEs from approximately 8 million SMEs during the same period 1 year earlier. Similarly, over this period, the number of credits redeemed, or used by account holders increased to about 25 million SMEs from approximately million SMEs in 2011. In addition, exports of Haitian apparel to the United States under EIAP have grown faster than non-EIAP exports. Last year, we reported that about $350,000 in Haitian apparel had been exported to the United States under EIAP from January through August of 2011--about 0.07 percent of all Haitian apparel exported to the United States during that period. In contrast, from January through August of 2012, nearly $18 million in Haitian apparel was exported under EIAP--about 4 percent of Haitian apparel exported to the United States during this period. Increased use of the program may be due to the growing awareness of companies already producing apparel in Haiti that their ongoing trade activities may qualify for additional benefits under EIAP.
Why GAO Did This Study
The United States has historically provided assistance to support development in Haiti. Over the last several years, Congress has attempted to promote Haiti's economic development through the use of trade preferences for Haitian products. In 2000, Congress extended preferences under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act to allow for duty-free treatment of apparel through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA). In 2006, Congress passed the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, giving preferential access to U.S. imports of Haitian apparel. In 2008, Congress amended HOPE (now known as HOPE II), expanding trade preference provisions already in place and creating new ones to further support the growth of the apparel industry in Haiti. It was the intent of Congress that HOPE II would help Haiti attract new investment and create jobs while simultaneously providing incentives to encourage the use of inputs manufactured by U.S. companies. Most recently, in an effort to support Haiti's recovery from the devastating earthquake that hit the country in January 2010, Congress passed the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010, expanding and modifying several trade preference provisions under HOPE II. The various provisions included under HOPE II and CBTPA offer different avenues through which qualifying apparel goods produced in Haiti can be exported to the United States duty-free.
One trade preference provision originally created under HOPE II was the "3-for-1" Earned Import Allowance Program (EIAP). The provision under Hope II established that for every 3-square-meter equivalent (SME) of qualifying fabric a firm imports to Haiti, the firm would be allowed to earn a credit to export 1 SME of apparel produced in Haiti to the United States, duty-free, regardless of the source of the fabric. In this way, EIAP was designed to both aid Haiti's apparel industry and encourage the use of U.S.-manufactured inputs. The HELP Act reduced the EIAP exchange ratio from 3-for-1 to 2-for-1. The change sought to encourage the use of EIAP, since no apparel from Haiti was exported to the United States under the original 3-for-1 model. This report responds to a mandate in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which requires GAO to review EIAP annually and conduct an evaluation of the program. We issued our first report under this mandate in June 2010 and a second report in November 2011. This review follows up on the extent to which the EIAP is currently being utilized, as well as trends and developments over the past year.
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