Haiti pins hopes on textile industry

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- In immediate response to the Jan.12 earthquake that brought Haiti to its knees, North Carolina-based Hanesbrands sent food and water, 2,000 tents and $2 million worth of underwear to workers who sew T-shirts for the company at plants in Port-au-Prince.

As Haiti's recovery now shifts from emergency needs to national rebuilding, some hope that textile manufacturers can deliver what its people really need.


Like the northeastern U.S. of the early 1800s, the South of the late 1800s, and more recently China, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Haiti is looking at garment-making as one way to put people to work.

Relatively low startup costs and the potential to employ large numbers of unskilled workers have long made the industry attractive to developing nations. Two decades ago, when the country made stuffed animals for Disney, hand-stitched baseballs for Rawlings and assembled high-end electronics for the U.S. military, Haiti also had 125,000 people in garment-making.

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