Industry accounted for 20% of GDP in 2001, but employed only 9% of the work force. Industry has traditionally been primarily devoted to the processing of agricultural and forestry products, although the assembly of imported components for export to the US and other markets has grown into a substantial industry. During 1970–78, the industrial sector grew by 8.3% annually; between 1977 and 1987, growth was null; and between 1988 and 1998 the sector declined by 3.1% annually. The parastatal flour refinery and cement factory were sold to foreign interests in 1999. The flour refinery had been out of service for five years before it began operations again in 1998. The cement factory was undergoing restructuring in 1999, and thus was closed. Since the flour refinery and cement factory were privatized in 1999, privatization has stalled. Other industries produce aluminum, enamelware, garments and hats, essential oils, plastic, soap, pharmaceuticals, and paint. A steel plant commenced operations in 1974, converting imported scrap into steel sections. Haitian plants assemble US-made components to create electronic devices, toys and leather goods. In 1986, before the trade embargo, some 140 export assembly firms employed about 40,000 people. The figure was only 400 in 1994, but five years later 25,000 people were employed in such firms.
Industry grew by 6% annually in 1997 and 1998. However, a growing trade imbalance preempted a more robust recovery, and the global economic slowdown in the US that began in 2001 negatively affected the Haitain economy. Construction has been consistently more dynamic than agriculture and manufacturing, which realized only moderate output increases.