You are on page 1of 16
Event Report August 2011 Agenda for an États généraux in Haiti: Third Roundtable of the Willson

Event Report August 2011

Agenda for an États généraux in Haiti:

Third Roundtable of the Willson House Process

FOCAL PROJECT REPORT: Haiti and the Private Sector

Washington, D.C. – May 16-17, 2011

Executive Summary

In May 2011, leaders of the principal private enterprises and private sector associations of Haiti and international donors convened in Washington, D.C. for a roundtable meeting on the role of the Haitian private sector in the development of Haiti. The objective of the meeting was to focus on actions to enable and improve effective co-operation between the private sector, the new government of Haiti and international donors to promote growth, good governance and development. In addition to broad areas of public and private governance and economic growth, participants discussed Haitian manufacturing, agriculture, technology, tourism and improvements in economic competitiveness.

The roundtable reviewed the history of public-private dialogue (PPD) in Haiti to help lay the basis for a new dialogue model that can produce effective, sustained and efficient collaboration. The roundtable also articulated a coherent and forceful declaration by the private sector of its role and responsibility toward the country’s development, drawing a clear distinction between modern progressive elements of the private sector and those wedded to the past. Finally, the roundtable marked the progression of the Haitian private sector from active participant to leader of the Willson House process. The Willson House process is a series of dialogues between leaders of the Haitian private sector and the international community named after the venue of the first such dialogue, convened at Meech Lake, Quebec, and chaired by former Canadian prime minister the Rt Hon. Joe Clark and former president of the Inter-American Development Bank Enrique Iglesias. The agenda, list of participants, and discussions at the third roundtable in this process were chosen and developed by members of the Haitian private sector, and the future direction of the process now rests firmly in their hands.


The following are key ideas that emerged from the discussions and preparatory work for the meeting done by the Haitian private sector. They are intended to inform and guide the development of an états généraux to be held in Haiti in the summer of 2011.

1) Pacte d’engagement

Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) was highlighted as an essential mechanism for building and acting upon a shared vision for economic growth in Haiti. Participants agreed that a first priority for the new government should be institutionalizing, in partnership with the private sector, an inclusive, transparent and accountable PPD process, built upon past experience in Haiti, to create efficiency, legitimacy and continuity of dialogue.

2) Nouveau consensus social pour une révolution de croissance

The only way Haiti can move forward is by strengthening democracy, rule of law, good governance and open markets to ensure economic growth that brings opportunities and benefits for all Haitians.

Haiti must create a “Revolution of Growth for All.” Participants asserted that the old business model of crony capitalism and rent-seeking behaviour that benefited a privileged minority

was unsustainable and dangerous for the private sector and the country. The only way Haiti can move forward is by strengthening democracy, rule of law, good governance and open markets to ensure economic growth that brings opportunities and benefits for all Haitians.

3) Business opportunities

The Revolution of Growth for All must ensure opportunities for Haitian businesses of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and those in the informal sector. It is a strategic priority for Haiti to enlarge the middle class and to support the transition of entrepreneurs from the informal sector to the formal economy. This will increase the

size of the tax base, thereby growing government revenue while expanding economic

opportunities to more Haitians.

4) Clarity on land ownership

Lack of clarity on land ownership and the absence of a national cadastre is one of the most significant challenges to unlocking access to capital, which is a necessary precondition for launching a Revolution of Growth for All, modernizing key sectors of the economy, and recovering from the 2010 earthquake. As well as prioritizing the creation of a national cadastre, land title and ownership systems could also be facilitated by reducing land transaction taxes, launching efforts to distinguish titles and tenures, and creating a title insurance program.

5) Private investment and public support for agriculture

Haiti’s agricultural sector is well placed to help reduce poverty by increasing productivity and job creation with relatively limited investments in infrastructure, training, and processing facilities. Improvements in agriculture may not be the fastest way to grow the overall Haitian economy, but it can contribute significantly to a stronger, more broad-based, and more diversified Haitian economy. In addition, infrastructure investments in roads and ports to further open the market for Haiti’s farmers can also improve access to the country’s regions


for tourism development. These potential synergies could help improve spending strategies if priority is given to those projects that have a double use —in tourism and agriculture, or agriculture and trade, for example.

6) Decentralization of private investment and public services

Growth could be stimulated outside Port-au-Prince through decentralization of private investment and public services. The majority of public servants, banks and businesses are concentrated in the capital region. A healthy, diverse and regionally integrated economy requires the private sector, donors and the government to make major investments outside the capital region. This process can be facilitated through key infrastructure investments, steps to improve access to capital for SMEs, and the growth and formalization of micro- enterprises.

A healthy, diverse and regionally integrated economy requires the private sector, donors and the government to make major investments outside the capital region.

7) Modernization of the alliance between the Haitian private sector and the state

The Haitian state and the private sector must modernize and unify. Haiti is faced with four options to confront the current and ongoing crisis in Haiti: a return to the authoritarian past; a continuation of the present state of political and economic dysfunction and crisis; a return to anti-market populism; or the evolution of both the state and the private sector toward transparency, accountability and effectiveness. For the private sector, the latter requires a commitment to fulfill all of its social, legal and moral responsibilities. For the state, this requires a move toward openness, responsiveness and serious commitment to follow through on the tasks taken up. For both sectors, this evolution demands a commitment to serious dialogue, enhanced co-operation and the provision of the necessary resources to sustain the process over an extended period.


In 2005, former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark and then-president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Enrique Iglesias, met at the Willson House at Meech Lake, Quebec for the first of a series of open discussions involving representatives of the Haitian private sector and international donors. The goal of these roundtables has been to find ways to leverage the talents and resources of the private sector in Haiti to make significant contributions to the broad economic and governance issues facing the country. The roundtables have served as critical forums for information sharing, confidence building and introduction onto the international stage of a progressive and modern Haitian private sector. This series of roundtables has come to be known as the Willson House process.

The first roundtable introduced the Haitian private sector as a development actor to the international donor community. Discussions at the first roundtable focused on the recent history of private sector engagement and began to lay the foundation for how a modern and progressive private sector could evolve and assist in the development of the country.


Since 2009, the Haitian private sector has played a more active and constructive role in public life in Haiti by producing comprehensive and well-developed strategies for

economic growth and management of the economy.

The first roundtable articulated themes that have grown in importance and visibility such as the need for mutual responsibility and accountability among the private sector, government and other societal actors. At the meeting, the private sector started to articulate a plan for

equitable and inclusive growth in Haiti: a “Revolution of Growth for All.”

The second roundtable in 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia focused on the reform of the education sector in Haiti. In addition to many participants from the first Willson House meeting, education experts from Haiti and other countries in the Americas joined, including the Deputy Mayor of New York City in charge of education. Emerging from this meeting, the Partnership for Educational Revitalization in the Americas (PREAL) at the Inter-American Dialogue commissioned a detailed study on education reform in Haiti, Education in Haiti: The Way Forward. The issues, findings and recommendations of this report provided in large part the basis for post-earthquake education reform in Haiti.

Since 2009, the Haitian private sector has played a more active and constructive role in public life in Haiti by producing comprehensive and well-developed strategies for economic growth and management of the economy. Public polling by the private sector around the 2010-2011 elections played a critical role in ensuring that the outcomes were democratic and reflected the will of the people.

The third roundtable, originally scheduled to be held in the margins of the IDB annual

meeting in



presidential election.



2011, was moved into

May to follow

the Haitian

Third Roundtable of the Willson House Process

The third roundtable between the Haitian private sector and the international community took place May 16-17, 2011 at the offices of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington D.C. It brought together 19 leaders of the Haitian private sector, members of the international donor community and a representative of newly elected President Michel Martelly. Presentations by members of the Haitian private sector initiated each session and helped guide the discussions about initiatives that both the public and private sectors can take to improve co-operation and to contribute to Haiti’s economic growth.

The Haitian private sector had decided that the Washington meeting was to be a starting point for an états généraux-type event to bring together the private sector and the Haitian government in the summer of 2011. A principal goal of the planned états généraux would be to produce a blueprint for a sustained forum and mechanism for PPD in Haiti. The meeting in Washington was also intended to provide the new Haitian government with proposals from the private sector on how to organize PPD, to describe what would be needed from both parties to achieve this, and to affirm the intention of the private sector to support a new Pacte d’engagement.


The present report summarizes key discussions at the roundtable, including the process of building consensus within the private sector, highlights from the presidential commissions organized by former president René Préval, a review of historical efforts at building PPD in Haiti, and some key ideas for moving forward with a new institutional PPD process. This meeting was held under Chatham House rules to ensure open discussions; therefore, this report does not attribute remarks or opinions to specific participants or identify them by name or organization.

A unified and inclusive private sector

Until recently, divisions within the private sector impeded its ability to lead economic growth and co-operate with other sectors of Haitian society. These divisions were described as a struggle of modern versus “crony” capitalism: change-oriented versus status quo; tax- paying versus tax-evading; transparency and anti-corruption versus corruption and opacity; pro-market versus “pro-deal”; and pro-democracy versus authoritarian.

Until 2009, the private sector was characterized by disunity and was represented by a constellation of over 30 organizations. Low levels of co-operation within the private sector made it very difficult to establish a unified voice. Also, major financial and economic players did not participate in these associations, making them weaker organizations. This weakness and disunity made it difficult for the private sector to take the lead in building a continuous and institutionalized dialogue between the public and private sectors. This resulted in limited private sector participation in the formation of public policies.

Various attempts at organizing the private sector had limited success until August 2008 when, after four years of negotiation, the regional chambers of commerce re-organized and were federated, creating the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie d’Haïti , CCIH). This included the establishment and inclusion of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises as a full member. In 2009, under the leadership of the CCIH, the Private Sector’s Economic Forum ( Forum économique du secteur privé , FESP) was created to promote investment for economic growth and job creation, and to become the focal point for the private sector when dealing with the government and the international community. The guiding principles of the FESP are: (1) decentralization and equal growth; (2) commitment to modernization; (3) leadership and mutual accountability; (4) Haitian-led recovery and construction; (5) independence from international aid.

In addition to the targeted involvement of SMEs as part of an expanded and modernized private sector, female participation in the formal sector will also have to be increased. In several regions in Haiti, women are the most numerous and productive elements of the informal private sector. Any program of formalization would have to target female entrepreneurs.

In several regions in Haiti, women are the most numerous and productive elements of the informal private sector.


Figure 1:

The Haitian Private Sector

ADTH CCIHC AMARH APB CHAAB AMCHAM ASAAH CFHCI ATH Chambres départementales: Artibonite, Centre, Grand’Anse, Nippes, Nord,
Chambres départementales: Artibonite, Centre,
Grand’Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest,
Ouest, Sud, Sud-Est
Private Sector Economic Forum

An economic vision for the country

The meeting featured a presentation titled “The Haitian Private Sector and a New Social Consensus for a Revolution of Growth” followed by a discussion of the relationships between Haiti’s political and economic elites, the international community, and Haiti’s citizens.

Haiti is now faced with four options for its future:

Business as usual: Low growth, dependency on foreign aid and foreign peacekeepers, growing popular frustration and international disillusionment;

“Good” old days: Anti-modern private sector and authoritarian political allies;

Populism: Anti-market, chaotic, inflationary, strong anti-democratic elements;

A Revolution of Growth for All: Based on democracy, the rule of law, morality, civic responsibility, good governance, greater private investment and expanded opportunities for all.

Haiti cannot go back to a closed economy or a closed political system. Recovering from the earthquake requires a growth revolution involving the active participation of Haiti’s people, a commitment to fair engagement from the international community, the participation of the modern private sector, and the support of political elites. Maintaining the engagement of these actors will be important for ensuring that strategies for growth and job creation retain support over an extended period. The idea that economic growth must take place while including a social dimension and awareness of potential inequalities was framed as a “Nouveau consensus social pour une révolution de croissance” built on common goals and co-operation rather than on divisive self-interest. As part of its focus on the new growth revolution, private sector representatives spoke of their commitment to good corporate governance, full tax compliance, corporate social responsibility and support for democratic governance.

In return, the Haitian government must live up to its commitments to hold free and fair elections, apply the rule of law consistently and equally, support market principles and free enterprise, and enter into partnership with the private sector based on transparency and accountability. In support of these commitments, political elites and the Haitian government must move with urgency to modernize the public sector, increase transparency and effectiveness, and combat corruption.

Haitian private sector leaders have repeatedly stated a desire to build relationships with the international community and begin a dialogue with leading NGOs. Improving this relationship will require that international actors move away from the concept of an “NGO Republic” and accept a strong, performing Haitian state at the centre of national life. The international community must recognize the modern progressive Haitian private sector as a responsible and essential partner in the development of the country. Old negative perceptions about Haitian elites must be confined to those elements of the private sector that have not modernized and have not concretely demonstrated their commitment by taking an active and sustained role in fostering the shared priorities of openness, inclusion and growth.

Haitians must be the leaders of investment and job creation, with international actors playing a key supportive role. While foreign direct investment (FDI) is often heralded as essential to Haitian development, Haiti’s lack of competitiveness means that FDI is not yet a prime stimulator of job creation. FDI plays a role in funding partnerships at the top of the food chain, but domestic entrepreneurship is essential for creating opportunities for the SMEs and informal businesses that form the bulk of the economy. Domestic investment, together with migrant remittances and donor aid, has kept the economy functioning during the worst political trouble, yet it has been undeservedly downplayed by the international community. It is important that the domestic private sector not be crowded out by NGOs and foreign charity organizations that provide basic services but in so doing impede the development of Haitian enterprises —most often small enterprises— that can provide the same services.

A nation of opportunities: Priority sectors for development

The Washington meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the actions and plans of the presidential commissions created by former president Préval that brought together government and private sector leaders to work on strategies for breaking Haiti’s survival cycle.

The presidential commissions

The Commission on Competitiveness was given a mandate to propose a plan for Haiti’s recovery. This strategic plan, published in August 2010, described a vision for long-term competitiveness and highlighted opportunities for rapid improvements in the investment climate, or “quick wins.” The plan described how Haiti could take advantage of the opportunities arising from crisis recovery to create up to one million jobs in five years.

The goals highlighted by the Commission on Competitiveness are: to create jobs, emphasize decentralization, support SMEs, work with housing and urban development, and create an effective PPD mechanism. This strategic plan sketches five priority clusters (cultivation of fruits and tubers, animal husbandry, tourism, housing and urban development, and garments and industry) to upgrade Haiti’s economy, and five cross-cutting clusters (construction and infrastructure, finance, information and communication technology (ICT), education and training, and a business-enabling environment) to support the growth of the priority clusters.

Enhancing competitiveness should not be simply about accumulating capital but should focus on improving productivity. For that reason, the private sector needs to take the lead in making national investment decisions about where and what to produce. Competitiveness partnership initiatives should be built to involve: (1) public-public actions such as regulatory improvements, which are the responsibility of the public sector; (2) public-private actions, such as public-private partnerships and joint investments; and (3) private-private actions, which are joint efforts involving different members of the private sector.

There is a pressing need to get rural areas engaged as economic contributors through new business investment, improved access to rural credit, and improvements in access to health and education.

Two of the priority clusters of the commission involved agriculture, the largest employment sector in Haiti. Haiti’s agricultural production has decreased significantly in recent years as productivity has lagged while food imports have increased dramatically, now accounting for more than 60 per cent of food consumed in Haiti. There is a pressing need to get rural areas engaged as economic contributors through new business investment, improved access to rural credit, and improvements in access to health and education. Improvements in agriculture and rural incomes can support essential structural, long-term reductions in poverty and inequality. Rather than being perceived as a social activity whose primary benefit is to slow urbanization, agriculture should be viewed as a business with both risks

and potential. While not everyone with a few seeds can build a competitive business, there


must be a way to support small independent farmers while also investing in transportation infrastructure and a more efficient and integrated chain for supply, collection and export.

Haiti’s tourism sector can also benefit from investments in roads, ports and airports targeted at the agricultural sector, creating synergies between agro-industrial and tourism development. Haiti has enormous potential for tourism with large under-explored regions that have a lot to offer including untouched nature, pristine beaches and famous historic sites. Haiti has designed a comprehensive plan to develop tourism, but the plan has never been implemented. Nevertheless, after the earthquake, there is a consensus that tourism is one of the pillars for future development.

The ICT cross-cutting cluster is an important tool to enhance competitiveness because it can increase private sector investments in Haiti and modernize public enterprises. ICT can enhance the efficiency of other sectors and can also create jobs outside and within the sector. The Haitian government will at some point have to improve on ICTs, most notably in adopting a modern regulatory framework.

Garment manufacturing and light industry were also highlighted as a key cluster for economic development. The HOPE, HOPE II and HELP acts were passed by the U.S. Congress to provide duty-free entry to the United States for clothing products manufactured in Haiti. After HOPE was enacted in 2006, former president Préval created the Tripartite Presidential Commission (CTMO-HOPE) to take advantage of the new legislation. The number of people employed in the garment sector increased from less than 10,000 in 2006 to close to 30,000 in 2009, partly due to the success of this Haitian-American deal. There is significant opportunity for tens of thousands of new jobs in this sector in the coming years, as highlighted by recent massive investments in the North Industrial Park. To capitalize on this opportunity, Haiti needs to improve its manufacturing quality standards. Because there are many actors involved in the sector, co-operation among private, public and international actors will be particularly important.

Informality, land ownership and titles

Issues surrounding land ownership and titles are a problem of national concern, as they affect the potential success and growth of the priority and cross-cutting clusters. The formal private sector has presented various proposals to address this issue, but these have not been taken up by any government, and the issue has never been seriously addressed.

Difficulties with land titles and subsequent problems with mortgages, insurance and collaterals are some of the primary reasons why foreign investment in Haiti is so limited. The government could begin to address the issue by making a distinction between titles and tenures on a sector-by-sector basis, starting with agriculture. Whichever approach to the problem is tried must be accompanied by the building of a national cadastre, along with sufficient legislation to support it. A successful intermediate system was put in place in Port- au-Prince after the earthquake by building a detailed database of land ownership based on

wide community recognition of such ownership. This could represent a good model for the solution to the title problems.

Corollary improvements that should take place alongside the creation of the cadastre include the elimination of high fees to register a mortgage —which are an obstacle for people to buy homes— and the development of a title insurance program with private sector participation to promote financing for housing.

A new public-private dialogue

The conference reviewed past attempts at PPD in Haiti and discussed ideas for the development of a new PPD process.

The key objective of PPD is to establish a partnership between the private and public sectors to build economic growth in Haiti. PPD can help identify and address roadblocks for investors while ensuring a level playing field. It can also provide a platform for the private sector to push for broad government accountability. Over the past 18 months, private sector representatives have done a significant amount of preparatory work to determine priorities and to make itself an effective partner in any potential mechanism. However, the decision on what mechanisms to develop will require further analysis and must be taken together with the government with input from society more broadly.

The work done by the membership of FESP for the May 2011 Washington, D.C. meeting included an analysis of past PPD initiatives in the country. Beginning with the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, formal PPD efforts went through multiple cycles of renewal and decay as the country suffered through repeated bouts of political turmoil. Two distinct types of mechanisms have been implemented at different times. First, joint public-private councils have been created with mandates to improve the investment climate and/or encourage economic reform and modernization. The presidential commissions established by former president Préval between 2007 and 2008 fall into this category. Second, public bodies have been established with the involvement of private sector representatives on the boards of directors with the objective to promote investment and/or exports. The former Haitian Bureau of Investment Promotion (BHPI) and today’s Centre for Investment Facilitation (CFI) fall into this category.

These institutions have generally operated with limited scope, had variable success in achieving their objectives and have been ineffective at institutionalizing co-operative dialogue. PPD efforts have been largely driven by the private sector, but efforts have been erratic due to difficulties in building political stability based on the rule of law and democratic principles. Whenever the democratic environment was weakened, so was PPD. The two weakest periods in PPD efforts occurred during times of contested government legitimacy (1988-1994 and 2000-2006). The most promising period prior to today began in 1994-1996,

when the return to democracy led to the creation of the Presidential Commission for Growth and Economic Modernization, which included significant private sector representation. This commission developed a detailed agenda for economic and institutional reform and a significant number of planning studies.

Much of this progress was lost between 2000 and 2006 before being revived by Préval with the creation of seven thematic presidential commissions in 2007. Several of these new commissions have produced useful strategic plans and, while limited in scope, were examples of how improved public-private co-operation could be effective, laying the groundwork for further joint endeavours. The goal for future PPD work is to move beyond analysis and reports to lead the implementation of plans for growth and job creation. The new government is seen as legitimate and open to talk, following in the footsteps of an outgoing government that was genuinely engaged. The tragedy of the earthquake highlights the pressure on all actors to share the responsibility of national development. All Haitians share the same goal: strong and widespread economic growth.

Based on analysis of past efforts at PPD, and significant discussion at the Washington roundtable, a series of key ideas can be highlighted:

PPD is most effective when the government has a legitimate democratic mandate.

PPD requires trust and openness from participants and public transparency. While disagreements will arise, there is value in listening to and addressing the concerns of other groups.

Fragmentation and division within the private sector hurts the position of the business community and is an impediment to an efficient PPD. Unanimity of opinion is not required or desired, but co-ordinated representation led by modern and open private sector elements improve the value of PPD initiatives.

It is important to institutionalize PPD efforts. This will ensure that participants are conscious of their responsibilities to the institution, of their collective responsibilities to the country, and of the need to be accountable to Haitian citizens.

There must be a clear definition of structure and goals of PPD to ensure that people will co-operate within a managed framework.

A sustainable and efficient PPD requires local funding, both from the private sector and the government. Foreign political conditionality of funding may undermine the PPD process.

The PPD should be formally connected to broader economic and political mechanisms to ensure that recommendations can lead to concrete results.

The tragedy of the earthquake highlights the pressure on all actors to share the responsibility of national development. All Haitians share the same goal: strong and widespread economic growth.


Mechanisms to enable analysis of the impact of the policy changes must be designed. Given resource constraints in the country, such a mechanism should also serve to help prioritize action.

The agenda of the PPD should be highly streamlined and strictly prioritized to ensure that limited resources are used effectively.

Three questions were highlighted as key to move forward with PPD: What form should the process take? Who should participate? What should the agenda be? Three broad types of mechanisms were suggested, based primarily on the participants involved. The institutionalization of more than one of these mechanisms could be possible, with different mechanisms playing different roles. First, it could take the form of a public-private group with representatives from government and the private sector. Second, it could be based on a broad mechanism for social dialogue with representatives from government, the private sector, unions and civil society groups. Third, a Conseil économique et social could be created with a very broad membership and a broad mandate to address economic, social and political issues.

Participation in the PPD process may include one broad dialogue including many groups or multiple narrowly specified subgroups that can address particular issues. In deciding on participation limits, it will be necessary to balance inclusiveness and effectiveness. This applies both to the organization of the private sector and to the co-ordination of the entire PPD process:

Rather than focusing entirely on the executive branch, PPD efforts must recognize parliament and civil society as important partners.

All participants must have a vested interest in the process and the outcome to encourage people to engage for results.

Rather than focusing entirely on the executive branch, PPD efforts must recognize parliament and civil society as important partners. The country’s history of autocratic regimes has led to the tendency to view the executive branch as the exclusive interlocutor in PPD. But with the advance of democracy, the spectrum of legitimate, capable and necessary stakeholders has expanded. Parliament must be permanently involved and brought in at the beginning of discussions, either in conjunction with the executive branch or through a separate joint mechanism. This would allow dialogue that

can help align interests and address differences over an extended period.

Ensure that any mechanism has government ownership at the highest ministerial levels, and that responsibility is not passed by the minister onto subordinates.

SME representatives should be included in the dialogue.

One possible design would be to have multiple issue-focused bodies (or multiple tiers of participants) led by a central core. The details of these potential arrangements need further elaboration to ensure the balance between effectiveness and representation.

Any new PPD mechanism would also require both financial and human resources to support the process. There was significant discussion around the idea of having a small permanent secretariat to provide operational and research capacity to the PPD process. Without competent staff dedicated solely to supporting the PPD process, the undertaking will not succeed. In addition, the private sector will need dedicated full-time staff behind an entity to co-ordinate inputs, decision-making and facilitate participation from the private sector. The current ad hoc and part-time volunteer efforts are not sustainable over the short term, let alone the longer term, and will severely undermine the PPD process as well as the credibility of the private sector. However, an important point to this and all other advisory councils that would be part of any PPD process is that advisory members should not be paid, following from the example of Préval’s presidential commissions. Any secretariat and technical support would be hired on a professional basis. While the FESP (or other participating private sector representatives) would be funded by the private sector, support from the international community for the PPD mechanism may be appropriate, provided that the design and operation of the mechanism is led by Haitians.

The private sector needs to develop a strong, credible capacity to articulate pertinent and detailed proposals that can create consensus and be easily implemented by the administration. The FESP is the obvious leading contender to play that role. Its 2010 document Vision and Roadmap of the Private Sector was funded exclusively by the private sector and can be seen both as a prioritization of issues for follow-up and a commitment to the implementation of solutions. The FESP work in bringing together key associations and companies, including a group representing SMEs, provides it with significant legitimacy as the leading private sector interlocutor. Because so much of Haiti’s economy exists in the informal and SME sectors, the FESP, or any other group that would claim to speak on behalf of the private sector, must make continuous efforts to ensure that it remains representative. There is also a need to consistently include voices from all regions of the country and from all parts of the economy. As long as the FESP operates in a transparent manner and engages with a wide array of private sector actors, it could play an important role in the PPD process.

Next steps

Any new PPD process will have to build on the success of small steps in order to gain support as it expands from the centre out, rather than to try implementing a wide-scale PPD system immediately as this may create inappropriate expectations of quick successes. One option to commence this process would be to nominate someone well-regarded by both the public and private sectors to meet with all groups and design a joint platform. Building on this joint platform, an outline of the agenda and operation of the PPD could be presented to a larger audience for discussion and approval rather than as a fait accompli.

With the apparent failure of old PPD mechanisms, the government may want to consider an interim initiative with a limited time frame. This would be a quick process that would

not use up too much energy and political capital, which could then be directed at actual implementation of projects rather than laboriously constructing new institutions. A cautionary note on interim initiatives is that it could become a distraction as a short-term focus could interrupt long-term structural progress.

A pressing issue in the PPD process is how to prioritize activities. Two alternatives were debated in Washington, D.C. On the one hand, all efforts could be focused on ensuring quick wins. This would require choosing activities that could be implemented quickly without losing momentum to the development, debate, passing and implementation of legislation for an unproven idea and process. Success from the first set of activities would build momentum and confidence throughout the government to move more expeditiously and enthusiastically with more difficult issues. The government could then more easily apply the necessary resources to the PPD process. On the other hand, some participants preferred a two-track approach to work on strategic long-term items in parallel with quick wins to ensure that deeper structural changes are set in motion. There was no consensus on the best option.


This event, the fourth in a series of roundtables between the Haitian private sector and international donors, was a collaborative effort between the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) and the Forum économique du secteur privé (FESP) of Haiti. The Inter- American Dialogue provided organizational and strategic support. Funding was provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency.

We would like express our gratitude to the representatives of the Haitian private sector and the members of the international community who gave their time to work on the agenda and participate in this meeting.

This report was written by Gerald Stang, FOCAL consultant, and Rafaela Antoniazzi, Project Co-ordinator at FOCAL, who both served as rapporteurs at the meeting, and edited by FOCAL Executive Director Carlo Dade, who chaired the roundtable. Every effort has been made to remain true to the presentations and interventions that occurred in Washington. We apologize for any inadvertent errors of facts or interpretation occasioned by difficulties in transcribing and summarizing these complex discussions.


Canadian Foundation for the Americas 1 Nicholas St., Suite 720, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Tel: 613-562-0005, Fax: 613-562-2525 Email:

The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FOCAL, its board or staff.

© Canadian Foundation for the Americas. All rights reserved.

The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to strengthening Canadian relations with Latin America and the Caribbean through policy dialogue and analysis. By providing key stakeholders with solutions-oriented research on social, political and economic issues, we strive to create new partnerships and policy options throughout the Western Hemisphere. FOCAL promotes good governance, economic prosperity and social justice, basing our work on principles of intellectual integrity, racial diversity and gender equality.

For more information on FOCAL and its activities and projects, please visit our website at

FOCAL projects are undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian Interna- tional Development Agency (CIDA)

FOCAL Canadian Foundation for the Americas 1 Nicholas St., Suite 720, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Tel:

Les projets de FOCAL sont réalisés avec l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada agissant par l’entremise de l’Agence canadienne de développement international (ACDI)

FOCAL Canadian Foundation for the Americas 1 Nicholas St., Suite 720, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7 Tel: