The government welcomes foreign investment, granting important concessions to new industries not competing with local production. Such enterprises are exempt from import and export duties for the life of the enterprise and enjoy a full tax exception for the first five years of operation. Companies locating in the industrial park are entitled to tax exception for a further three years. For companies that locate outside the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area there is a 100% income tax exemption for 5 to 15 years with 15% to 20% of the income tax payable thereafter. Additionally, for export and import oriented business, there is an exemption without time limit from customs duties on imported machinery, equipment, raw materials, and accessories needed for production. Foreign capital enjoys equal status treatment with Haitian capital. The National Office for Investment Promotion is in charge of foreign investment.
Substantial foreign investment in Haiti began during World War II as a means of stimulating production of goods considered essential to the US war effort. Agricultural development was financed largely by the US Export-Import Bank and the World Bank, supplemented with private foreign capital.
In October 1996, the IMF approved a $131 million loan to Haiti. The credit, to be provided over a three-year period, is aimed at supporting a national economic reform program. The international donor community committed $2 billion in concessional loans and grants to Haiti for the 1995–99 period, including $390 million from the World Bank. Unfortunately, the political impasse of 2000 caused a freeze on international donations.
Foreign direct investment (FDI), since the lifting of the trade embargo in 1995, has increased only moderately. By 1998, annual FDI inflow to Haiti reached almost $11 million, up from $4.4 million in 1997, and in 1999, FDI inflow peaked at $30 million. The disputed elections in 2000 and continuing political uncertainty helped bring FDI flows down to $13.2 million in 2000 and less than $3 million in 2001. In 2003, Haiti was one of 23 countries that remained on the US "majors" list of countries involved in illicit drug processing and/or illicit drug transit.
Most investment comes from petroleum companies (Texaco, Shell, Esso, and Elf). Other major foreign investors include American Airlines, American Rice Corporation, Citibank, Compagnie Tabac, Continental Grain, Seaboard Marine, and Western Wireless, from the United States; and Royal Caribbean and Scotiabank.