Haiti occupies the western three-eighths of Hispaniola located on the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, sharing the remaining area of the island with the Dominican Republic.
The latest available country-specific data from 2017 shows that 89.9% of products exported from Haiti were bought by importers in: United States (56.4% of the global total), France (12.4%), Canada (4.5%), Thailand (4.2%), Spain (2.8%), Taiwan (2.3%), United Kingdom (2.2%), Dominican Republic (2%), Vietnam (1.6%) and China (1.4%).
From a continental perspective, 61.1% of Haiti’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 19.8% were sold to European importers. Haiti shipped another 12.6% worth of goods to Asia. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (4.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (1.4%) then Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given Haiti’s population of 11.2 million people, its total $1.3 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $120 for every resident in the West Indian country.
Haiti’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Haitian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Haiti.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$960.9 million (72.7% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $136.5 million (10.3%)
- Fish: $62.2 million (4.7%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $39.5 million (3%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $16 million (1.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $13.7 million (1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $12.4 million (0.9%)
- Iron, steel: $11.9 million (0.9%)
- Cocoa: $10.2 million (0.8%)
- Headgear: $7.3 million (0.6%)
Haiti’s top 10 exports accounted for 96.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Headgear was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 184.4% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was fish via a 123% gain. Haiti’s shipments of cocoa posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 68.3%.
The leading decliner among Haiti’s top 10 export categories was perfumes and cosmetics, thanks to a -44% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests represent Haiti’s most valuable exported product at 41.5% of the country’s total. In second place was knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (19.8%) trailed by knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (7.5%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers (4.8%), live fish (4.3%), essential oils (2.9%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s shirts (2.2%), unknitted and non-crocheted tracksuits and swimwear (1.7%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (1.2%) and miscellaneous furnishings (also 1.2%).
The following types of Haitian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$854 million (Up by 31.9% since 2018)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $126.4 million (Down by -14.4%)
- Fish: $44.2 million (Reversing a -$7.8 million deficit)
- Fruits, nuts: $12.8 million (Reversing a -$5.9 million deficit)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $11.5 million (Down by -63.1%)
- Cocoa: $9.4 million (Up by 283.5%)
- Headgear: $6.4 million (Up by 460.3%)
- Copper: $6.1 million (Down by -18.9%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $3.7 million (Up by 71.2%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $1.6 million (Up by 10.7%)
Haiti has highly positive net exports in the international trade of clothing and related accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Haiti’s strong competitive advantages under the clothing and accessories product categories.
Overall Haiti incurred an estimated -$1.3 billion trade deficit for 2019 down by -55% from -$2.9 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Haiti that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Haiti’s goods trail Haitian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$287.9 million (Down by -7.1% since 2018)
- Cereals: -$277.3 million (Down by -3.7%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$171.5 million (Down by -11.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$128.1 million (Down by -31.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$123.8 million (Down by -19.2%)
- Vehicles: -$108.2 million (Down by -46.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$95.5 million (Down by -29.6%)
- Meat: -$85.8 million (Down by -13.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$73.2 million (Down by -58.7%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$56.2 million (Down by -26.1%)
Haiti has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related product category. These product-specific negative balances are largely for refined petroleum oils.
Haitian Export Companies
Not one Haitian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists some exports-related companies from Haiti. Selected examples are shown below.
- Brasserie de la Couronne (soft drinks)
- Brasserie Nationale d’Haïti (brewery)
- Comme Il Faut (tobacco)
- Handxom (electronics)
- Rhum Barbancourt (alcoholic beverages)
- Sûrtab (computer hardware including tablets)
- Unibank (commercial bank)
In macroeconomic terms, Haiti’s total exported goods represent 6.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($21.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 5.9% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Haiti’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Haiti’s average unemployment rate was 13.5% for 2019, same as one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Haiti’s capital city is Port-au-Prince.
See also Aruba’s Top 10 Exports, Mexico’s Top Trading Partners and Top Central American Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Central America and Caribbean: Haiti. Accessed on June 18, 2020
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Haiti. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 18, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 18, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Wikipedia, Jordan. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Haiti. Accessed on June 18, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 18, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Accessed on June 18, 2020