Thoughts

They’ve Got What We Want, and We’ve Got What They Need

August 29, 2017

In pressing news, China is planning to invest $4.711 billion in development project advances for Haiti; however,  the contract has not been signed.

Let’s hold our excitement for a minute and ask some pressing questions. We can’t deny that China has been on the road to becoming a global economic powerhouse, with its investments in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa.  China is in Africa for oil,  gold, iron ore, copper and other natural resources, but to say that the average African is not benefiting in some ways is false. China’s human rights record is less than commendable, and their implicit support for Africa’s corrupt leaders and its partnership with countries such as Sudan have led to genocide.  

But what exactly is their motivation? Do they actually care? Or is there an underlying political plot to use Haiti and others as stepping stones on its relentless march towards global economic domination?   

Those who have a business in Haiti might say “doing business in Haiti is a nightmare” due to the lack of accountability and lack of policies not put in place to protect an investor or small business owner. Most of us wouldn’t know where to begin if we wished to invest in Haiti because of the level of corruption that is publicized in the news, and we tend to stay away with the fear that they will ask us for money that we do not have.  

Given Haiti’s level of development, why would China invest? Labor costs are low, infrastructure is poor (a deal with the Chinese would be a blessing to Haiti’s infrastructure), quality of life is poor, there are political corruption and other factors that would make Haiti a poor choice for economic investment. And the questions keep piling up. There are negative and positive aspects to this deal. For Haiti to protect the future of its citizens, policymakers need to introduce regulations to manage the percentage of hires foreign investors/businesses can employ outside of Haiti (non-citizens).

According to Le Nouvelliste, Ralph Youri Chevry stated, this project will be managed and executed by the Chinese investor for 20-25 years, then they will transfer their management to the municipality. Haiti will be getting what it needs – quality capital that funds investment, job creation, poverty reduction, technological development, and educational growth, something aid has not been able to accomplish. However, without a competent government, workers will remain unable to earn a competitive living wage which will hinder Haiti’s prospects for growth.

As critics, we must ask the questions that need to be answered, demand that policymakers in Haiti work to protect the livelihoods of Haitians, and also ask for more details about this initiative.

 

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