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Haiti

Haiti

Population 11.9 million
GDP 1,765 US$
E
Country risk assessment
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Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators 

  2020 2021 2022 (e) 2023 (f)
GDP growth (%) -3.3 -1.8 -1.7 0.3
Inflation (yearly average, %) 22.9 15.9 27.6 44.5
Budget balance (% GDP) -2.2 -2.5 -3.2 -3.3
Current account balance (% GDP) 1.5 0.7 -1.4 -2.6
Public debt (% GDP) 24.4 25.6 27.7 22.4

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *2021 Fiscal year from 1st October 2023 to 30th September 2024

STRENGTHS

  • Development and reconstruction programmes established with international donors
  • Membership of regional organisations (Association of Caribbean States, Organisation of American States, CARICOM, CARIFORUM)

WEAKNESSES

  • Extreme vulnerability to natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes.
  • Low level of development (HDI ranking of 170 out of 189) and widespread inequalities (Gini coefficient of 41.1)
  • Dependence on remittances from Haitian expatriates in the US and Canada, and on international donations
  • Lack of infrastructure, especially energy (70% of the population has no access to electricity)
  • Poor governance and business environment; large informal sector
  • Tax cost of undeclared imports from the Dominican Republic.
  • Political instability, corruption and insecurity

Risk assessment

Security climate will drag on growth

In 2022, the low vaccination rate against Covid-19 and worsening insecurity in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 prolonged the recession triggered by the political crisis of 2018 and the climatic hazards of 2019. Growth is expected to remain fragile in 2023. Inflation, which is likely to remain high, will continue to squeeze household spending. The end of petrol subsidies in September 2022 and the continuation of government monetary financing will probably continue to fuel price increases. In addition, the slowdown in economic activity and inflation in North America is likely to curb remittances from the Haitian diaspora living there, who contribute more than 20% to Haiti’s GDP. The cholera epidemic will also weigh on household consumption. The contribution of private investment will remain low as a result of security instability. Weaker US demand will slow textile exports (87% of the total), while crime will hurt recovery of the tourism sector (8% of GDP), of which the US is the main driver. Despite preferential access to the US market, smaller textile exports will affect cotton production (less than 9% of GDP). The grant awarded in May 2022 by the World Bank would partly finance it.

 

Moderate stabilisation of the public deficit, deterioration of the current account

The public deficit increased during the 2021-22 fiscal year thanks to a decline in current expenditure and an increase in grants. It is expected to widen slightly in 2022-23 on back of a very low tax base (less than 5.8% of GDP in 2021-22). Low tax mobilisation and financing constraints will continue to dictate fiscal policy. While revenues are expected to increase in line with reforms to broaden the tax base and the return of economic growth, social expenditure is expected to continue to rise. The reduction (by 16%) in subsidies for petroleum products from autumn 2022 will free up fiscal space for them. At the same time, capital expenditure will be concentrated on the reconstruction effort. In addition, additional expenditure will be allocated to the national police in view of the deteriorating security situation. After receiving debt service relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative and IMF assistance (USD 224 million) in 2021, the country entered into a one-year Staff Monitored Programme with the Bretton Woods institution in June 2022. It could pave the way for further IMF financial support by mid-2023. Deficit financing will continue to rely on inflation-generating monetisation by the Central Bank of Haiti and external grants from bilateral and multilateral partners. 

The current account returned to deficit in 2022, mainly due to the rise in the import bill, especially for energy and foodstuffs. In 2023, the deficit should continue to grow, penalised by the large trade balance deficit (around 20% of GDP). Imports, particularly of energy, will continue to weigh heavily, while exports, dominated by textiles, should suffer from the weaker international environment. Even if tourism receipts rebound, the services account is expected to remain largely in deficit (around 2.5% of GDP). These deficits will be largely offset by a surplus in the transfer account, fuelled by large remittances from Haitian expatriates and, to a lesser extent, official transfers. The income account should continue to have a neutral impact on the current account. Despite the small current account deficit, the large import bill and dependence on remittances and official aid represent sources of external vulnerability. In addition, the low level of foreign direct investment does prevents the deficit from being financed, thereby forcing the accumulation of arrears and the draining of foreign exchange reserves. These reserves, covering nearly five months of imports, should make it possible to contain the depreciation of the gourde in the short term.

 

Gang warfare, political uncertainty and inflation cloud future prospects

The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 has created extreme political and security instability which remains largely unresolved. Ariel Henry, appointed by Moïse shortly before his assassination, is serving as Prime Minister of an interim government. While his term should have ended in February 2022, questions surrounding his legitimacy are growing, including within his own party (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale). General elections, originally scheduled for 7 November 2021, were postponed indefinitely after Prime Minister Henry dismissed the council responsible for organising the elections. At the same time, the National Transitional Council (CNT), which emerged from the Montana Accords (August 2021) signed by some of the opposition parties and civil society organisations, defined a roadmap for elections by 2023. On 31 January 2022, the CNT appointed as president Fritz Jean, former Governor of the central bank, and Steven Benoit as Prime Minister. However, the initiatives of the CNT, which is plagued by internal faction infighting, have received little support from the government of Ariel Henry and the international community. The latter, led by the United States, supported Henry's government while underscoring the need to organise elections quickly. Fritz Jean and Steven Benoit are still awaiting their investiture ceremony. Taking advantage of the powerlessness of public authorities, armed gangs have gained ground in the country. Insecurity and the lack of government legitimacy, against a backdrop of inequality, poverty and inflation, have exacerbated social tensions. Since the summer of 2022, the end of petrol subsidies and the announced reduction of subsidies on other petroleum products have provoked more rioting and demonstrations. The political and security outlook continues to be very unstable and uncertain. In September 2022, the US, a privileged partner, proposed in the UN Security Council sanctions against gang leaders and a possible intervention by the Blue Helmets. Chinese diplomacy supports a UN embargo on the sale of light weapons to Haitian gangs. While international funding is constrained by the fragile political situation, the country remains a recipient of humanitarian aid, particularly to support reconstruction following the August 2021 earthquake.

 

Last updated: April 2023

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