U.S. urges clothing companies to buy Haiti apparel

* Clothing companies asked to import 1 pct from Haiti

* U.S. official says would add jobs to quake-hit country

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. government and industry
leaders urged clothing manufacturers and retailers on Tuesday
to help rebuild Haiti by importing 1 percent of their apparel
production from the earthquake-ravaged country.

“One percent may seem small, but it means new jobs and new
opportunities for the Haitian people who so desperately need
forward-looking solutions in the wake of January’s devastating
earthquake,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a
statement.

Kirk and officials from Gap Inc (GPS.N: ), Hanesbrands
(HBI.N: ) and the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and
Apparel announced the new initiative in Las Vegas at a fashion
and apparel industry conference.

Companies representing more than $195 billion in U.S.
consumer clothing sales were expected to attend the industry
meeting, Kirk’s office said.

Haiti’s clothing sector accounted for about 75 percent of
the country’s exports and employed more than 25,000 Haitians
before the massive earthquake on Jan. 12, which killed more
than 200,000 people.

U.S. trade officials hope a vigorous response to the “Plus
1 Percent” program would encourage investors to get Haitian
clothing factories back into operation as quickly as possible.

President Barack Obama’s administration will support the
program by working with U.S. and Haitian companies to remove
roadblocks to Haitian apparel exports, Kirk’s office said.

The initiative builds on Haiti’s existing duty-free access
to the United States under the HOPE (Hemispheric Opportunity
through Partnership Encouragement) Act and other legislation,
some of which expires in September.

“To continue to grow Haitian apparel exports and help
Haiti’s economy for the long term, additional investment in and
sourcing from Haiti is critical. And that is where the Plus One
for Haiti program can make a difference,” Kirk said.

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(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Eric Beech)

U.S. urges clothing companies to buy Haiti apparel