One of the largest textile factories in Haiti will lay off 3,500 people, or half of its workforce, it said in a letter citing unfavorable economic conditions amid record gang violence.
S&H Global, a local subsidiary of the South Korean textile group Sae-A, said Tuesday that a global economic downdraft and multiple “turbulences” in Haiti forced it to carry out the job cuts.
The company cited gang control of the Port-au-Prince oil terminal that led to a “two-month forced closure at the end of the year (2022), when the local power plant had to shut down due to a fuel shortage.”
S&H Global also blamed its decision on multiple customs strikes and unexpected border closures with the Dominican Republic, both of which hindered exports.
Faced with shipping and production delays in Haiti, the company said client orders have been “redirected elsewhere in the Caribbean and Central America, to other reliable suppliers and factories.”
S&H Global, which counts Gap, Target and Walmart among its clients, began operations in Haiti in 2012, when the Caracol Industrial Park opened near Cap-Haitien, a large city on the north coast.
S&H Global’s workforce is largely female, and a job at its textile facilities kept many employees out of the ranks of half the population that faces food insecurity.
All textiles assembled in Haiti enter US markets without duties but a US slowdown led S&H Global to begin cutting jobs at its Haiti factories in the summer of 2022.
A low minimum wage, equivalent to $4.83 a day, was a draw for foreign textile manufacturers to locate in Haiti, but the nation is increasingly plagued by armed gangs that kidnap for ransom and steal commercial cargo with impunity.