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Nicholas Galt: Haiti’s a good place to invest


Newly-elected chairman of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA), Nicholas Galt, is looking to develop business opportunities in Haiti and he is suggesting that Caricom, of which Haiti is a member, should make travel access of citizens of the country to the region much easier.

Speaking to members of the media last week at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) offices, Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain, Galt said expanding a business means identifying the right location for investment. And he has pinpointed Haiti as one such place.

“Companies like Scotiabank would go into Haiti and would have the six branches and would do well. The big problem is that you have a massive poor population and a small wealthy population (in Haiti). The other problem you have is that one of its biggest trading partners should be the Dominican Republic, but you have an imbalance of trade there.”

“Haiti imports from Dominican Republic US$2 billion per year in goods, Dominican Republic imports from Haiti US$100 million. The only way you are going to find Haiti getting out of that space is to allow Haiti more access to the Dominican Republic market, since they are neighbours. The Dominican Republic purposefully puts in tariffs on goods to deny Haitian goods from entering the DR.”

Though Haiti is a member state in Caricom, it does not have access to Caricom.

“Any Haitian wanting to go to Barbados or T&T has to apply for a visa. This stilted freedom of movement to do business outside is a real problem. I took the issue to Ambassador (Plenipotentiary Mervyn) Assam and he agreed it is an issue. He suggested that the way out, any Haitian businessman who has a United States visa is allowed automatically entry in Latin America.”

Galt said he planned to pursue the matter further to stimulate business activity in Haiti. The owner of Trinidad Systems Ltd is now in talks with Haitian business people to set up a joint venture in that country. 

He did not want to disclose the nature of the joint venture.

“Haiti is a developing country and in a developing country, there are all types of opportunities, which is why Scotiabank and Digicel are doing well. My company is going to be doing a specific solution as it relates to payment transactions.”