proposed massive industrial park in beleaguered, low-wage Haiti is being viewed as a major step in the recovery of the Caribbean nation, which in January marked the one-year anniversary of a devastating earthquake.
The Haitian government, the U.S. State Department, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Korean multinational textile manufacturer Sae-A Trading Co. have agreed to support the creation of a textile and garment manufacturing park in northern Haiti. Sae-A Trading, headquartered in Seoul, is expected to be the first of several manufacturing firms to locate in the park, which will be built at the site of a former sisal plantation. Sae-A says it will eventually employ 20,000 workers at the North Industrial Park, which covers more than 600 acres (243 hectares). The park is located between the northern cities of Cap Haitien and Ouanaminthe. The garment jobs will pay about $2,400 annually, nearly four times Haiti's per-capita GDP of $640.
Investment banking firm Taylor-DeJongh is advising the Haiti government on the park's development, including defining the commercial structure, negotiating with tenants and promoting the park to potential tenants.
"By the first quarter of 2012, the gate will be opened and the first shells will be available to tenants," says John Sachs, a director with Taylor-DeJongh. Sae-A will occupy a third of the park in a phased-in investment, Sachs says. The remainder will be occupied by three to 10 additional tenants, he says. Estimates place the park's eventual employment at 50,000 to 65,000, in an area where most people depend on subsistence farming.
More Than Apparel
"Some other investors are in discussions with the government," Sachs says. "It will be a truly mixed-use park, not necessarily dedicated to garment manufacturing. There could be some other types of light manufacturing."
Haitian authorities are in talks with two other Korean firms as well as with companies from the United States, Brazil and Switzerland in various industrial sectors that have expressed interest in the park. Sachs says the Haitian government reached out to many of the largest garment manufacturers in the world, including companies in China, Korea and Brazil.
"They approached these manufacturers to say Haiti is back in business, is developing a world-class industrial park and has a skilled work force," Sachs says. "They got positive responses from quite a few, and Sae-A was one of the first movers."
Sae-A Trading will be the first company to produce apparel made from textiles manufactured in Haiti. The company will commit US$78 million for facility development, machinery and equipment. It will occupy 124 acres (50 hectares) and employ 20,000 Haitian workers in compliance with International Labor Organization standards. Founded in 1986, Sae-A Trading, a major supplier to U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Gap and Levi's, also operates factories in Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Nicaragua.
Through grants made to Haiti, the IDB will support the construction of the industrial park's buildings, internal roads, electricity and water distribution networks and water treatment plant. The U.S. government will underwrite the construction of a power generating facility to supply the park and its surrounding area, as well as a housing program for the park's workers.
Haiti's apparel industry reached its zenith in the early 1990s when it employed an estimated 100,000 workers. That number is now about 28,000. The value of Haitian apparel exports to the U.S. ($512 million) was approximately 10 percent of Haiti's GDP in 2009, constituting approximately 90 percent of the country's exports, according to the U.S. State Dept. Sae-A's investment of $78 million doubles the amount of foreign direct investment that Haiti received during 2009.
n addition to its new multi-phase investment in Turkey, Cummins in mid-January dedicated its new "megasite" facility in Phaltan, India. The site will allow Cummins to significantly expand production capacity for engines, components and generators, and eventually use India as a base for exports to Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Company plans to invest $300 million in the 300-acre (121-hectare) campus over the next several years.
joint venture between Indian truck builder Ashok Leyland, part of the Hinduja Group, and state investment authority RAKIA has opened a factory at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. The facility is the UAE's first vehicle plant.
"This facility is an important building block in our quest to be a global player. Ashok Leyland has enjoyed a dominant position in the popular bus market of the Gulf region and therefore it was only natural for us to set up a manufacturing base closer to our customers," said R. Seshasayee, managing director, Ashok Leyland.
The 20,000-sq.-m. (215,400-sq.-ft.) facility has an initial annual capacity of 2,000 buses and trucks. It will serve markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Africa, and potentially Europe, Seshasayee said.
The UAE's second bus plant won't be far behind. Charlotte-based DesignLine Corp. and UAE-based Liberty Automotive announced on Feb. 11 a $30-million joint venture to open a production facility in Abu Dhabi. The plant will open by the end of 2011 and will have an annual capacity of 300 buses. DesignLine says that increased demand for its hybrid/electric buses will more than double its current work force in Charlotte and Christchurch, New Zealand.
issan Motor Co., Ltd., has begun construction of a state-of-the-art, advanced lithium-ion battery plant in Cacia, Portugal, to support the rollout of electric vehicles from the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Europe.
The battery plant is being built on a 30,450-sq.-m. (327,946-sq.-ft.) plot of land belonging to the Renault Cacia gearbox assembly plant, following an investment of €156 million (US$211 million). The facility will start operations in December 2012 and will have a total capacity of 50,000 units a year. It will employ about 200.
"The Cacia plant will be one of three facilities in Europe supplying batteries to electric vehicles produced by the Alliance, starting with the 100-percent-electric Nissan Leaf," said Nissan's Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga, speaking at the Feb. 11 groundbreaking ceremony. "Together, the three plants will enable the Alliance to roll out electric vehicles in Europe on an unprecedented scale, bringing the world one step closer to a zero-emission future."
Last April, Nissan began construction of a battery plant in Sunderland, U.K., which will start operations in early 2012 with an annual capacity of 60,000 units. Renault's battery plant in Flins, France, will have a total production capacity of 100,000 units a year.