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.
Haiti’s 5 biggest exports are knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests, knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers, knitted or crocheted women’s clothing, unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers, and unknitted and non-crocheted tracksuits, swimwear and other miscellaneous garments. Collectively, those commodities represent 70.6% of the overall value of Haitian exported goods during 2020. That percentage suggests a highly concentrated portfolio of exported goods.
Haiti’s Major Trading Partners
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 11.4 million people, its total $1.04 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $90 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Haiti.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$714.8 million (68.6% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $119.8 million (11.5%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $34.6 million (3.3%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $28.3 million (2.7%)
- Fish: $20.9 million (2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $19.1 million (1.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $15.5 million (1.5%)
- Iron, steel: $10.9 million (1%)
- Headgear: $10.5 million (1%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $7.8 million (0.7%)
Haiti’s top 10 exports accounted for 94.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Headgear represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 43.3% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were miscellaneous textiles including worn clothing via a 40.6% gain.
Haiti’s shipments of fruits and nuts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 38.3%.
The leading decliner among Haiti’s top 10 export categories was fish thanks to its -66.4% 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 35.8% of the country’s total. In second place was knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (18.5%) trailed by knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (9.8%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers (3.2%), unknitted and non-crocheted tracksuits and swimwear (3.2%), essential oils (2.9%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s shirts (2.5%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (1.9%) and dates, figs and fruits like pineapples, mangoes, avocados and guavas (1.7%).
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$573.2 million (Down by -16.4% since 2019)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $89.3 million (Down by -24%)
- Fruits, nuts: $15.3 million (Up by 678.6%)
- Headgear: $8.9 million (Up by 39.3%)
- Feathers, artificial flowers, hair: $7.1 million (Up by 50.3%)
- Cocoa: $4.4 million (Down by -46.1%)
- Copper: $3.5 million (Down by -40.6%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $698,000 (Down by -48.8%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $436,000 (Down by -46.8%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $185,000 (Reversing a -$45,000 deficit)
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 2020 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.
- Cereals: -US$353 million (Up by 21% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$230.9 million (Down by -21.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$198.2 million (Up by 21.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$195.3 million (Up by 49.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$164.8 million (Up by 37.8%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$161.8 million (Down by -11.9%)
- Iron, steel: -$159.5 million (Up by 12.7%)
- Vehicles: -$141 million (Up by 27.2%)
- Machinery including computers: -$122.8 million (Down by -9.4%)
- Cotton: -$120.6 million (Up by 0.2%)
Haiti has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for rice, wheat and to a lesser extent corn under the cereals product category.
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 3.1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($33.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 3.1% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 6.3% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing 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 14.5% for 2020, up from an average 13.5% in 2019 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 August 20, 2021
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Haiti. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 20, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 20, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Wikipedia, Jordan. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Haiti. Accessed on August 20, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on August 20, 2021
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Accessed on August 20, 2021