Unemployment levels are high in Haiti, with around two thirds of the entire country’s labor force without any sort of stable employment or income. The country is currently highly supported by foreign aid, with around 40% of the government’s budget supplied by other countries, particularly the USA, which is Haiti’s largest financial benefactor.
Haiti has no provision for creating its own energy, so all energy is imported into the country. Due to this, blackouts and power shortages are not uncommon.
Haiti successfully applied to have its external debt cancelled in 2009, after meeting the conditions laid out by the IMF in terms of its high level of poverty. With such a reliance on foreign aid, Haiti’s economic situation has been dire for many years. The situation was worsened by the 2010 earthquake, which completely shattered the economy and led to the country’s heavy reliance on international development agencies and NGOs. Members of these organizations live and work in the country alongside the Haitians.
In 2011, the country had a trade deficit of 3 billion USD. Within the country as a whole, the richest 1% of Haitian citizens are believed to own around half of the country’s overall wealth and there is a very sharp divide between rich and the poor.
Haiti’s main industry is agriculture and around half of the country’s working population is employed in this sector. Some of the crops that Haiti exports to the rest of the world include: mangoes, coffee, papayas and spinach. Nonetheless, the country as a whole imports around 80% of its food each year.
With unemployment such a widespread problem in Haiti, it is almost impossible for expats to find work in Haiti in regular sectors. Work permits within the country are therefore not really an option and the government does only rarely provide them. The main work opportunities for expats in Haiti are with charitable organizations and NGOs, such as Plan and the Red Cross. With over 40% of the government’s budget coming from international aid, the not-for-profit sector in Haiti is huge and has a permanent presence throughout the island.
International development agencies and NGOs are therefore the main employers of expats in Haiti, though many also work on a voluntary basis, either through governmental or religious organizations.
There are many ways in which to be employed or work with NGOs in Haiti, whether you wish to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure, help to combat poverty, get involved in transforming the country’s health and education systems.
Tax in Haiti varies depending on the size of the business, from around 10% to 35% and both corporate and personal incomes are taxed within the country. However, new corporations and businesses that the government considers to be particularly good for the country are offered a five year income tax exemption. VAT, at a standard rate of 10%, is also applied to many items within the country.