Mr. AmCham President,
Ladies and gentlemen of the AmCham board and distinguished AmCham members,
Friends and dear guests:
I’m delighted to note the presence of so many private sector leaders here this evening as we celebrate the holiday season and the bonds of friendship between Haiti and the United States. The U.S. Embassy and American Chamber of Commerce in Haiti have a long history of working together to encourage trade and investment between our two countries, and of course the American Chamber of Commerce in Haiti has been a catalyst for economic growth for many years.
As I noted when I last addressed AmCham, you — the private sector — are making decisions today that will help determine a bright economic future and investment partnership for both the United States and Haiti. Given your important role and influential voices, we at the U.S. Embassy want to make sure we are closely engaged with you to exchange ideas and to scale up activities that complement and support our Embassy’s economic development, institution-building, and governance-focused goals.
We all know it has been a challenging year for Haiti. All of us remain concerned about the current situation; we’ves seen some businesses forced to downsize their workforces and, in some cases, close their doors. The United States deplores the “pays lok, ” which has directly contributed to violence and interruption of daily life for so many Haitian families. The question we need to ask ourselves this evening is: What role can we play to help Haiti move forward? How can we accompany Haiti in its path forward?
We want to see the private sector, the engine of economic growth and employment, thrive. I have made it a priority since arriving in Haiti to deepen the business and trade relations between Haiti and the United States, as part of an overall focus on boosting Haiti’s prospects for economic growth.
We know that the U.S.-Haiti economic partnership only succeeds when businesses can prosper in a climate that promotes economic growth. Security, good governance, and transparency are all key factors to support sustainable economic growth. I know that you all agree with that sentiment.
Working together with the American Chamber of Commerce, we also want to ensure that U.S. companies can compete on a level playing field and operate in an environment that is predictable, stable, and free of corruption. Fair and due treatment of American investors in Haiti will improve the investment climate for the long-term benefit of the business environment, the Haitian economy, and the Haitian people.
I know we all agree that corruption, in all its forms and outlets, halts Haiti’s development; it is a disincentive to economic growth and stalls our collective efforts to end poverty. Across the region and around the world, fighting corruption is about fighting for a just and prosperous future for our countries. It’s about creating a thriving market economy based on the rule of law for the benefit of all citizens. In fact, lasting prosperity requires strong rule of law and effective democratic institutions that deliver results for their people. The United States stands with those Haitians who value peace while courageously calling for accountability.
Despite the challenges in Haiti of the past year, I am proud that the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince and the American Chamber of Commerce continue to actively work together to promote joint economic growth, job creation, and prosperity. Underpinning our strong ties with the American Chamber of Commerce are our shared values. The U.S. Embassy and American Chamber of Commerce visibly promote the values that the U.S. business community espouses, including the promotion of private enterprise; transparency; good governance; and respect for rule of law, free trade and open markets. And with you, we want to continue to highlight our championing of ethical business practices and visible, strong corporate social responsibility.
I am proud that our Embassy’s relationship with the American Chamber of Commerce is strong, and I have been impressed with the work the American Chamber of Commerce is doing to promote U.S.- Haiti commercial and business ties. I truly believe in your mission: to advocate for the private sector. I believe, just as you do, that pro-business trade and investment policies spur economic growth.
We want to work with you in the private sector to help unleash Haiti’s entrepreneurial talents and activity — economic activity that energizes inclusive economic growth and raises the living standards and self-sufficiency of all Haitians.
We support and applaud the American Chamber of Commerce’s mission of promoting a mutually beneficial economic relationship between the United States and Haiti via advocacy, engagement, and strong communication. All over the world, foreign trade and investment are vital drivers of the American economy and our partner economies, generating revenues and creating jobs.
I know we are all working for positive momentum here in Haiti, and to provide the private sector with the certainty it needs to make sound business decisions. We all want to see a Haitian-U.S. economic partnership that reaches its full potential. To create and maintain such momentum, the private sector must continue to champion economic reforms that will improve the investment climate for their businesses as well as ensure that growth and prosperity are broadly shared across Haitian society.
And of course, the government must also continue to champion the fiscal and monetary reforms that will move Haiti forward. At the U.S. Embassy we continue to urge all of Haiti’s political, economic and civil society stakeholders to enter an inclusive dialogue to identify and pursue a path to form a functioning government that will serve the Haitian people and address the country’s pressing economic and social concerns. Haiti’s leaders need to work together toward a peaceful and democratic solution.
In addition, we want to work closely with all of you to identify and promote business opportunities for the American Chamber of Commerce and American businesses and to encourage the development of supportive business environments.
I turn to our American Chamber of Commerce friends and other private sector partners this evening to tell you what you already know: Haiti needs you now more than ever. Haiti needs your know-how and skills to develop a strategic economic vision with the government. Together, we must tackle the challenges and find long-term solutions.
Working with you, we at the U.S. Embassy believe we can create new opportunities for our shared prosperity. As we look ahead to the new year, we affirm our strong friendship with Haiti and commit to working together to identify opportunities for private sector-led growth and increased investment.
This holiday period is a time for us to celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends, but it is also a period of reflection on the year that is ending, as well as planning for the year ahead of us. We are all hopeful that 2020 will be a year of stability, economic prosperity, and continued partnerships. I hope that all of you, the private sector, as the backbone of the Haitian economy, will continue to work together to advocate for a business climate that is stable, transparent, and based on the rule of law and ethical business practices.
What happens in Haiti is important to the United States; Haiti is a close neighbor whose stability and success bolsters our own security and success. So once again, I am delighted to be here this evening and want to take the opportunity to wish you all good health and prosperity for the holidays and a future full of growth and success for Haiti and for the United States. I would like to now turn it over to the President of AmCham, Laurent Saint-Cyr, to say a few words. Thank you, and I wish each and every one of you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and happy holidays!