Haiti has long had a large and unproductive government service sector, a legacy of the Duvalier dictatorship, which created government jobs for its supporters. Social services, however, are almost non-existent, and recent governments have come under pressure to reduce the state payroll through privatization and by firing workers or giving them early retirement.
Retail and transportation are both labor-intensive and largely primitive economic sectors, with large numbers employed in informal vending and rural markets. There are few modern retail outlets in Haiti, and most rural dwellers depend on their own food production and basic items bought at markets or village stores.
In the 1980s, tourism was a relatively important sector, providing Haiti's second largest source of foreign exchange, but the industry was destroyed by adverse publicity about political violence and the dangers of HIV/AIDS in the country. Some hotels have survived by catering to the large numbers of aid workers and other foreign staff who are posted to work in Haiti, but tourism as such has yet to recover. Tourist arrivals numbered 146,367 in 1998, and cruise ships now call at a specially constructed beach resort, Labadee, in the north of the country. The government has invested in promoting the southern town of Jacmel and the northern area around Cap-Haïtien as tourist destinations.
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Haiti|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|