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Abstract

In the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, various neoliberal strategies have been advanced to help in short-term disaster mitigation and reconstruction, as well as more long-term improvements in the country’s overall economic integration and growth. One such strategy has been focused on revitalizing the country’s apparel assembly industries through an aggressive expansion of export processing zones (EPZs). The disaster, it appears, represented an important opportunity to improve economic conditions by reorganizing the country’s role in the global apparel commodity chain. However, this reorganization conflicts with the preferences of US textile and apparel producers who have used trade preference programs to position Haiti as an off-shore apparel assembly hub. An examination of trade policies enacted in response to a series of disasters reveals the continued shift of power from the traditional textiles protectionist bloc to more transnationally-oriented apparel producers. This study traces these conflictual business interests within the context of global supply chains, transnational capitalism, and enduring US national economic interests. Ultimately, the 2010 Haitian earthquake represents a redefinition of the country’s role in the apparel commodity chain; a role within a global network defined by locationally fluid, sweatshop production.

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