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We need trade not aid, says Haiti leader

THE president of Haiti last night appealed to international businesses to invest in the earthquake-ravaged country to help them move from aid towards trade.

President Michel Martelly visited Ireland as part of the first 'Haiti Week' after flying to the World Economic Forum in Davos with businessman Denis O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien's mobile phone operator Digicel is the largest employer in the Caribbean country.

Mr Martelly said the "Haiti of the past no longer exists" as he vowed he was working to "eradicate corruption" in the country.

Less than half of the money pledged internationally for large-scale reconstruction work has been received by the country in the two years since a devastating earthquake left 230,000 people dead.

"We are showing people things are being done differently and telling them that in the future we will less be about aid -- now we want trade and to create jobs," he said.

So far more than 900,000 children are going to school, housing projects are under way and almost a million people have been moved out of the housing camps set up in the aftermath of the quake.

Mr O'Brien said a five cent tax introduced by the new president on inbound calls from the US or Europe to Haiti had raised more than $20m (€15m) for education.

Mr Martelly attended a fundraising Haiti ball at the Four Seasons Hotel last night, organised by housing charity Haven, which aimed to raise more than €100,000.

Speaking in Davos earlier, Mr O'Brien said there was a lot of capability in Haiti.

"I used to think Ireland was an entrepreneurial place until I went to Haiti. Everyone is an entrepreneur there, many are from a farming background and are used to buying and selling," he said.

Irish Independent