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Clintons open Haiti industry park

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Hillary and Bill Clinton say the project could create thousands of jobsUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has attended the launch of a $300m (£187m) industrial park in the Haitian town of Caracol.

The project is part of US efforts to help Haiti recover from the devastation it suffered in the 2010 earthquake.

The US has invested $124m (£77m) in the project, which it hopes will create thousands of jobs.

At a grand opening ceremony Haiti's President Michel Martelly said the country was "open for business". Mr Martelly said that too often the images of Haiti shown around the world were sad, but that Haiti had more to offer. "We are committed to taking all appropriate measures to make it easier for you to invest in Haiti," President Martelly told investors and celebrities at the opening ceremony. 

Former US President Bill Clinton, who now serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, also attended the launch of the park in the impoverished north of Haiti, some 160km (100 miles) from the capital, Port-au-Prince.

South Korean clothing manufacturer Sae-A Trading says it will create 20,000 permanent jobs over the next six years at the Caracol park and build 5,000 houses in the surrounding area for its workers.

Critics fear the project could benefit foreign investors more than local workers. They say factory jobs rarely manage to pull locals out of poverty.

But Hillary Clinton said projects such as the Caracol industrial park created sustainable economic growth.

She said the US had "learned that supporting long-term prosperity in Haiti meant more than providing aid, it required investments in infrastructure and the economy that would help the Haitian people achieve their own dreams".

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and suffered further in the 2010 earthquake, which destroyed much of the country, and from a subsequent cholera epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people.

October 23 2012, 18:14

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