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DeWine, Nelson Bill Would Spur Trade with Haiti to Prompt Reform

Location: Washington, DC


U.S. Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), late yesterday introduced the Haiti Economic Recovery Opportunity (HERO) Act, intended to improve the economic and political situation in Haiti by promoting trade. This bill would use trade incentives to encourage the Haitian government to make much needed reforms, while encouraging foreign direct investment, a powerful development tool.

"Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere, the people there lack both political stability and a secure future," said Senator DeWine. "This bill would encourage trade with Haiti, helping the country gain a firmer footing in the global economy, while encouraging needed reform. I hope my colleagues will choose to stand with this struggling country in their time of need."

"I believe this legislation is critical to getting the Haitian economy up and running again," Senator Nelson said. "By expanding their economic opportunities and reforming the Haitian government, this is a step towards improving the quality of life of average Haitians."

The HERO Act would amend the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, granting duty-free status to Haitian apparel. Haitian apparel accounts for less than one half of one percent of all U.S. apparel imports, and the bill would cap the duty-free imports at 1.5 percent growing modestly over time to 3.5 percent. In order for Haiti to be eligible for the benefits, the President of the United States must certify to Congress that the Haitian government is making significant political, economic, and social reforms.

The Senate approved a similar in 2004 during the 108th Congress, but it failed to receive a vote in the House of Representatives.

Other cosponsors include Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN), Joe Biden (D-DE), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Jeff Bingaman(D-NM), John Sununu (R-NH), James Jeffords (I-VT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), George Voinovich (R-OH), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KS).

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