The purpose of the thesis is to identify export opportunities for Haiti in order to move the economy from low to a more complex level. Under an Evolutionary Economics framework, diversity/heterogeneity/complexity are central to the process of economic growth. Diversity is introduced in an economy through innovation. Market competition will later ensure that the goods that are the most profitable are retained. This process of Creation, Selection and Retention (CSR) has the ability to foster economic growth. Without the introduction of new varieties (Diversity) through Research and Development, there is no economic growth under this framework.
As Haiti lacks the resources to invest in Research and Development, it can engage instead in Emulation in order to bring about diversity/heterogeneity/complexity in the economy. This study is therefore proposing the ESR (Emulation, Selection and Retention) framework for the development of Haiti. Diversifying the production of goods and services into more complex products through Emulation, has the potential to create sustained economic growth, higher income per capita and shared prosperity.
The concept of Product Space and the Method of Reflection as proposed by Hidalgo et al (2007) and as modified by Freire (2011) have been used to identify which products that are traded in the global market but that are close enough to the existing product mix of Haiti so that they can be emulated relatively easily without having to acquire too many additional capabilities. A total of 1630 products with above global average complexity have been identified as potential products that Haiti can emulate but only 728 of those products can potentially be exported. This paper claims that the manufacturing sector particularly the textile industry is one of the most promising sector for Haiti.
The low percentage of export opportunities for the products that have been identified for Haiti suggests that a “laissez faire policy” will unlikely lead to the accumulation of skills and knowledge necessary to the production of more complex goods in the country. This implies that the Haitian government should pursue aggressive policies that are conducive to more investment in the country particularly in products located at the higher end of the textile industry sector.