Manufacturing was the most dynamic sector of the economy in the 1980s. Growth in this sector had averaged more than 10 percent a year during the 1970s; manufactures replaced agricultural commodities as the country's leading export goods during this decade. In 1988 manufacturing accounted for 17 percent of GDP and for 53 percent of exports; it employed about 6 percent of the labor force. In addition to the dynamic assembly subsector, which experienced 22 percent real annual growth in the 1970s, included small-scale local manufacturing enterprises and large-scale, state-owned organizations.
The manufacturing sector in the late 1980s comprised 500 enterprises, most of which were small or medium in size and family-owned. Their major products included processed foods, electrical equipment, textiles, and clothing. Small enterprises, employing up to 50 workers, represented 57 percent of all manufacturing firms, but they employed only 10 percent of the industrial labor force. Medium enterprises, with 51 to 300 workers, accounted for 35 percent of the sector's firms and employed 44 percent of the industrial labor force. Large enterprises, those with more than 300 employees, constituted only 8 percent of the companies, but they employed 43 percent of all manufacturing workers, mostly in large assembly factories in the industrial parks of Port-au-Prince.
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