* Haiti says thanks for food aid, but needs jobs more
* South Korean textile firm will hire 20,000 workers
* U.S. government, IDB are also major investors
By Joseph Guyler Delva
CARACOL, Haiti, Nov 28 Haiti and its
international partners broke ground on Monday on a $257 million
industrial park that represents the largest foreign investment
since the Caribbean nation was hit by a catastrophic earthquake
nearly two years ago.
The 608-acre (246-hectare) Caracol Industrial Park on
Haiti's northwest coast will be anchored by a South Korean
textile firm, Sae-A Trading Co Ltd, which has committed to hire
20,000 people. That would make it the largest private employer
in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
Haitian President Michel Martelly said the park could
eventually provide jobs for 65,000 workers, which would
increase Haiti's garment industry workforce by more than 200
Martelly thanked international donors for helping provide
food and water to homeless Haitians living in tents in the
aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that wrecked parts of
the capital and killed as many as 300,000 people.
"We thank them for that, but that should change. Today,
here is the model of investment Haitians need from the friends
of Haiti," Martelly said.
"This model of investment will allow Haitians to feel
proud. They go to work, they get their salary and they will buy
their own food and water."
Sae-A is investing $78 million in the initial phase of the
project, while the U.S. government is contributing $124 million
and the Inter-American Development Bank $55 million.
Haiti's government contributed the land for the industrial
park in Caracol, about 15 miles (25 km) from the port city of
The first operations are set to begin in March. The project
will include development of roads, an electricity-generating
facility and housing.
Sae-A is a major supplier to U.S. retailers such as
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp, and Gap Inc. Promoters of the
project say it could revive Haiti's garment industry and are
hoping to attract other clothing manufacturers that might
benefit from increased American trade preferences for
The Haitian government is courting additional tenants in
the textile industry as well as electronics and furniture
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a U.N. Special Envoy to
Haiti, attended the groundbreaking ceremony with other
"The Haitian government has offered real incentives to get
people to come here and I thank all the business leaders who
are with us today," Clinton said.
"This industrial park is the result of people working
together. Haiti is open for business because people are working
Supporters have high hopes for the project. Clinton said
that for every job created in the park, one new job would be
created in the local economy.
The IDB said the project would create more than $500
million in wages and benefits over a decade, with each worker
earning more than three times Haiti's per capita GDP of
It said the initiative would increase the number of jobs in
the formal private sector by at least 20 percent.
(Writing by Jane Sutton; editing by Christopher Wilson)