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Walter Bastian is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere, a part of Market Access and Compliance.
On January 12, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake. With more than 230,000 lives lost, it is among the ten worst natural disasters in recorded history, and the worst ever felt in the Western Hemisphere. In this island nation, the poorest in our Hemisphere before the quake, an estimated 1.3 million are now homeless. In the path of rebuilding lie 20 to 25 million cubic yards of rubble which – according to the Washington Post – is enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome five times or cover the National Mall to a height of 700 feet.
A recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that the cost of reconstruction in Haiti could reach $14 billion. If Haiti is to be “built back better,” there is little question that private sector investment will have to play a key role. The below events strive to engage the U.S. business community, which I believe is still the most dynamic, and innovative in the world, to consider doing business in Haiti. I am confident that if the Haitian Government and international community succeed in providing a framework of security, stability and transparency, the U.S. private sector will play a leading role in building a new Haiti.
Haiti Reconstruction Business Dialogue (April 20)
Secretary of Commerce Locke will host the Haiti Reconstruction Business Dialogue for all U.S. businesses interested in learning more about opportunities associated with Haiti’s reconstruction. Participants will hear from the leaders of several major companies doing business in Haiti. In addition, officials from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank will discuss financing, political risk insurance, infrastructure-related feasibility studies, and the ourcome of the March International Donors’ Conference. Haitian Minister of Tourism Patrick Delatour, who is charged with leading Haiti’s reconstruction efforts, will deliver the keynote address. For more information, contact: Katherine.Bernardo@trade.gov or 482-3547.
U.S. Business Interest Conference (June 9-11)
The U.S. Commercial Service, American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic, and American Chamber of Commerce of Haiti will be holding a business interest conference on June 9-11, 2010. The purpose of this conference is to disseminate information on Haiti-led rebuilding strategies, and the plans and procurement practices of the multilateral lending institutions and the donor community, including the UN, World Bank, IDB, and USAID. For more information on this conference or to register your interest and receive updates: http://www.buyusa.gov/caribbean/en/
The Department of Commerce will continue to monitor the reconstruction process as opportunities develop for U.S. businesses, including U.S. Government procurement opportunities and opportunities funded by international development banks.
Local Events for Haiti Reconstruction
Subsequent events will be held in Brooklyn, NY on May 10, Miami, FL on May 25, and Philadelphia, PA on June 7.
For New York: http://www.buyusa.gov/nyc/haitireconstruction.html
For Philadelphia: http://www.buyusa.gov/philadelphia/reconstructhaiti.html