Return to Transcripts main page

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Countries Pledge to Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

Aired January 13, 2010 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our continuing coverage of the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath. Let's bring you up to speed on the grim situation in Haiti.

Countries around the world are pledging aid after an enormous earthquake and aftershocks pulverized Port-au-Prince Tuesday. The country's ambassador is pleading for help saying Haiti's first lady told him most of the capital is destroyed. The U.S. embassy says the airport is operational and aid flights can arrive. We've confirmed that with our reporters on the ground. Haiti's prime minister says the death toll could well rise above 100,000, 100,000.

We're waiting to get in touch with our reporters on the ground. Communication is spotty. Land lines are definitely out right now. We're hoping to get in touch with one of our reporters in the next few minutes.

But we are in the meantime getting video and photographs from inside Haiti on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Michael Holmes is tracking those sites for us right now at the Haiti desk.

Michael, you were there from the very first, from the very first few minutes after the earthquake and you saw how much of the information came from Twitter.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. (INAUDIBLE) back story (ph) last night, but the news started coming out about this earthquake and then we started doing our live shots, the first pictures, the first images we got were on Facebook. And we'll give you a bit of an update now. Twitter for example, several Twitter hash tags that have been getting a lot of play, a lot of people asking for help. You can see there it's easy to help. Donate this. Donate that.

Now what is interesting, you mentioned last night when we started to cover this Hala, this is Facebook and this guy here, I actually interviewed him to set this up last night on Skype actually. This help Haiti Facebook site has picked up 10,000 members in a bit over an hour. Think about that. It's over 30,000 now. What I want to show you actually is go to the photo page. This is kind of heart breaking.

People are posting photographs of relatives and they're asking people in Haiti, have you seen my father, my mother, my sister, my brother? Please let me know via Facebook, just endless pages, look how many pages there are of photographs here. They just go on and on and on, 66 pages of photographs on this website alone.

Now I-reporters think they're going to switch over to I-report now and we've got the first one here, which we can show you. We're seeing a lot of images, a lot of photographs. This is I-reporter (INAUDIBLE) a photograph of his mother in the (INAUDIBLE) district of Haiti along with her sister and son. He's talked to his brother, hasn't been able to get in touch since, very emotional over the phone apparently. He's going to share additional information as it comes in.

Another I-reporter, this is (INAUDIBLE) works for the U.S. embassy, was at the airport in Haiti yesterday, waiting to board a flight to the United States when the quake struck and sent us a photograph here of some of the damage, several photographs of some of the damage that has been done there at the airport and elsewhere.

I want to show you something else that's come into us here via I- report. This is from Jonathan (INAUDIBLE) who sent in a series of photographs, severely damaged buildings and rubble in Haiti. We asked him to describe what happened as the earthquake struck, what was going through his mind. He said this, quote, a typical day in Haiti. All of a sudden, total chaos. He said that because of the multiple aftershocks that we've been hearing from other people too, many people felt much safer just spending the night outdoors, Hala.

GORANI: OK, Michael Holmes, with the Haiti desk, thanks Michael.

Many nations are desperately poor, living in flimsy homes to begin with that are unsafe even in the best of times. The country's U.S. ambassador says if the presidential palace collapsed, you can imagine what happened to the shanty towns. He is appealing for immediate aid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAYMOND JOSEPH, HAITI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: This is a major catastrophe for Haiti. We have gone through all this before (INAUDIBLE) that the Haitian people courageous as they are, will come out of it in unity. In the meantime, I'm asking for the international solidarity (ph) with Haiti and I'm asking those close to us, those that we had helped early on in the 1800s to become independent, for them to come now to our time of distress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: All right. We're going to take you live now to New York at the Haitian consulate. We're going to listen to what Haitian officials there are telling us.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

FELIX AUGUSTIN, HAITIAN CONSUL GENERAL IN NEW YORK: .the people in Haiti. We need doctors, people in the medical field to go down to Haiti as soon as they can. We are in touch with JetBlue. We are in touch with American Airlines and they are ready to go as soon as the logistics can be met. We are in touch with the Haitian community, the mayor (ph) of New York, the police of New York. We are in touch with almost all the agencies that are supposed to provide the needs for our community.

Of course, I am very heartened by what I've heard so far. Guyana for example, the president of Guyana just offered $1 million to the Haitian government. We have the text here and I was just with the (INAUDIBLE) I was in a meeting with them and the (INAUDIBLE) Guyana spoke about that and give us the fact about it. So we are very heartened by everything that is going on, but in the meantime, we are very concerned. It is a question of public health. We need, we need the help of the international community. We need for people to understand that it is not only Port-au-Prince, but it is the (INAUDIBLE) surrounding areas of Port-au-Prince.

We want to thank you for being here this afternoon and we are ready to answer some of your questions.

QUESTION: What have you been able to galvanize so far in terms of efforts, doctors, medication and when is that first shipment going to Haiti?

AUGUSTIN: In fact, JetBlue was ready to go this afternoon. It is because of the logistics. The Haitian medical associations in New York, they are already, they already have about 40 medical doctors ready to go to Haiti. We have the nurses association. They are ready to go to Haiti, but because the thing happened only yesterday, they were not ready. So now they are trying to fire up some of the things that they need so that when they go down to Haiti, they can be very -- they can be ready to help the people that needs it.

QUESTION: Where are they going to be able to set up? There's so much widespread devastation. What is the plan once they on the ground either in Santa Domingo or Haiti in order to establish some type of medical command center.

AUGUSTIN: We are -- of course they will have to do what we can. We cannot provide things that we don't have. What I would suggest that they take with them before they go to Haiti because JetBlue for example, told us already they are going to give them tents. They are going to give them some sleeping bags and all the facilities. But I would suggest that they bring water with them. Water is of the utmost need in Haiti today and if they are going, they are to bring some dry food of course. They have to bring with them if they want to go for a week, they should think about going with things that they really need to use for one week, including hygiene stuff and everything they can think of.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) right now. They're going to be there for a week or perhaps even (INAUDIBLE)

AUGUSTIN: That's what I'm (INAUDIBLE) It's different on them what they can do. I mean (INAUDIBLE) they can give. What we are going to have people in the cycle (ph) of course. When the first are going, as soon as we can and whenever they are coming back, we are going to have another team to go down to Haiti just to replace them.

QUESTION: One bit of good news today apparently is that the airport is.

AUGUSTIN: The airport is functioning. We were a kind of -- we did not know that things were going to be -- how they were going to go down to Haiti. They were talking about going to the Dominican Republic and cross over. But now that the airport is not affected, we are sure that licenses (ph) are going to be given as soon as it is asked so that JetBlue or American Airlines or other airlines trying to help us or private entities, they are going to be able to get down to Haiti and start helping.

QUESTION: . going to Haiti?

AUGUSTIN: We cannot say exactly tomorrow, but I would say that JetBlue was ready to go this afternoon. It is very heartwarming to know that if they cannot go tomorrow, by Saturday we should have a team down in Haiti.

QUESTION: Would that be a flight that is already (INAUDIBLE) will volunteer (INAUDIBLE) regular flight from New York to.

AUGUSTIN: (INAUDIBLE) they are not going to -- no it's going to be at JetBlue's expense. But the only thing is, it's not that everybody's going. Yes, we are going, professionals, medical professionals to go with them, not just people that want to go. Of course if the press needs to go, we will have to make some arrangement for them I suppose. Yes.

QUESTION: What do you suggest (INAUDIBLE) independent to raise money (INAUDIBLE) sent to Haiti. Where do I (INAUDIBLE)

AUGUSTIN: (INAUDIBLE) money. Let me give you the number, Chase Manhattan, the number is -- the big (ph) account number is 761549039. Let me repeat it again, 761549039. That number can be used, you can (INAUDIBLE) the money there and nobody can touch it expect the administration here. And we will have a list of anything that you do. If you give $5, your names will be on the list. If you give $10, the same. If you give a million, the same and the money is going to be used not for me, not for anybody working in the consulate, but for the people in need in Haiti. That is a promise that I can keep to you.

GORANI: The consul general in New York for Haiti, Felix Augustin there in a passionate appeal for help. We heard members of the assembled audience there, reporters, private citizens, saying how can I help. Felix Augustin, actually read out a bank account number.

Here on CNN.com, we also have a list of organizations, reputable charities who are sending help, equipment and money to Haiti. You can go to CNN.com/impact for that.

Felix Augustin was also mentioning planes headed to Haiti with aid and (INAUDIBLE) joins me now.

You are actually monitoring, you're able to monitor in the sky the planes headed toward Haiti.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the consul, the general consul said that actually the airport is functioning. It has not been affected and you mentioned in your interview with Mr. (INAUDIBLE) that the roads, treacherous roads is a question. Well, look at this...

GORANI: Thankfully our viewers, Mr. (INAUDIBLE) said from the Dominican Republic into Haiti, some of the roads are good. So that was good news if you can call it that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and we have at least eight planes we are monitoring right now. This is flight explorer, that are going from the state down into and you see there, MTPP. That's the meter (ph), the name of Port-au-Prince. So this one is coming from Boston. It's a large plane, a 757. Then we have here one departing from Dallas, Washington, you see another plane it's a 737-800 so it's quite large. Then we have another one from Washington, DC too going down there, a smaller plane. This is 8ST is Homestead in Florida. It's a smaller plane, but it's going down there too.

Then we have FBR, that's Fort Lauderdale executive airport, Miami, Fort Lauderdale executive airport and Miami. So Boston also, there's one, here it is from Boston. So you see from the northeast, from the mid- Atlantic and of course from Florida taking the aid and the presumably some professionals there to give them a hand, because the situation is very desperate. And if you pay attention to what we were talking about before, the state of the roads and the number of people affected by this under rubble, probable the Israelis would be the ones who can help out a big, big deal in this case for the rescue operations.

GORANI: Thank you very much, (INAUDIBLE), it's great to see that map and see the number of planes headed down there. We'll catch up with you a bit later with more on the news out of Haiti.

The U.S. President Barack Obama says Haiti has a quote friend and partner in the United States as it struggles to recover from the earthquake. White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us now live with more on the U.S. response.

Hi, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala.

Well President Obama has pledged switch coordinated and aggressive action in dealing with the crisis in Haiti on the ground. He has spent his morning essentially shuttling from a meeting he's had with top Democrats dealing with health care reform to making some phone calls, getting the latest briefings on what is the situation on the ground and are the U.S. planes that have hovered over Haiti to try to get an initial assessment, we are told that the president was briefed by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Ken Martin (ph). This happened just within the hour.

So the president's also going to be working the phones this afternoon, the next couple of hours, with world leaders to try to coordinate an international, not only rescue and relief, but an aid effort as well. He's going to be on the phone with the Haitian president, with the prime minister of Canada to make sure that the United States is getting a clear picture of what this country needs, what the people need on the ground. The president making it very clear this morning Hala, that time is of the essence. I want you to take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives. The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief, food, water and medicine that Haitians will need in the coming days. In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense, are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region and around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Hala, the president outlined the United States' efforts and their priorities regarding Haiti. He said first, they're going to be looking obviously for missing Americans, U.S. personnel inside of Haiti. They're also going to be obviously involved in the search and rescue effort. There are already various groups and military that have been sent from the states of Florida, Virginia and California, teams that are on their way. There are assets, a Coast Guard cutter (INAUDIBLE) that is already in Haiti.

And the president made a plea. He said, look, I know Americans have it tough. These are hard economic times for everyone, but if you can help, if you want to help, to go to the website, whitehouse.gov to make any kind of contribution that you can and as you know Hala, there's a very close relationship between the United States and Haiti. Many Haitian-Americans here, many relatives back in Haiti over there, a lot of people who are struggling to find out where their loved ones are, where their friends are and what they can do to simply help.

GORANI: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, live at the White House. Thank you and to find out more on the organizations that are mobilizing aid for Haiti, you can always go to our website. It's our impact your world page, CNN.com/impact. What you're seeing there is a live picture. It is the United Nations in New York and as you can probably see there in the center of the screen, the UN flag is at half staff today in honor of those who died and are still missing in Haiti, including more than 100 UN staff in Port-au-Prince. That's going to do it for us for now. I'm Hala Gorani at the international desk. We'll give you another update on the Haiti aftermath in about 15 minutes. I'll send it over to John Defterios (ph) now for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Hala, thanks very much, good evening. We'll be keeping you up to date throughout this hour with the latest from Haiti and hearing from CNN correspondents in the country of course. On QUEST MEANS BUSINESS this hour, the tipping point. Google says it's had enough of doing business the Chinese way. We'll look at what that could mean for the web giant.

Plus, on the defensive, Wall Street executives relive the descent into crisis. We're live in New York. And must do better, the pizza chain that admits customers hated its food. All that and more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Google is threatening to pull out of the most connected country in the world. The search engine giant says it may be forced to abandon its operations in China and its 300 million Internet users. This because Google says it will no longer put up with China's demand that it censor the results of web searches by Chinese users. CNN senior international correspondent John Vause explains what's driven Google to take the stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After all the self censorship, the government web crackdowns after compromising its own stated ethics, Google it seems has finally had enough of doing business the China way.

JEREMY GOLDKORN, INTERNET ANALYST: Google has been subject to an inordinate amount of harassment in China over the last year.

VAUSE: The tipping point it seems is what the Internet giant calls sophisticated cyber text originating from within China, targeting g-mail (ph) accounts of Chinese human rights activists. None were breached, but the company says the attacks have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. And it's no longer willing to continue censoring our results on google.cn. This may well mean having to shut down google.cn and potentially our offices in China.

GOLDKORN: I imagine the Chinese government reaction is going to be well, if you don't like our laws, get lost.

VAUSE: Within hours of the announcement, the self-censorship was being rolled back. Search results from Google's China server showed images of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, so too the Dali Lama and the outlawed religious group Fallon Gong (ph). For a company with don't do evil as its motto, this defiant new stand won praise from supporters of free speech, who in the past have been critical of Google for agreeing to government censorship as a condition to setting up shop in China.

ROSEANN RIFE, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: They've revisited the idea of censorship and are now saying the price they're paying is perhaps too high.

VAUSE (on camera): If Google really does pull out of China, it could come with huge financial costs. This country has more than 300 million Internet users, more than any other and the Internet advertising market here is seen as one of the most important and fastest growing in the world.

(voice-over): Google has not directly accused the Chinese government of being involved in the cyber attacks and says it will seek negotiations with Beijing over the next few weeks to see if it's possible to continue to operate here. Chinese government officials declined to comment when asked by CNN. Meantime, all Beijing Google staff are now reportedly are paid leave. John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEFTERIOS: John Vause in China, of course, and Jim Boulden is following this story for us with very wide implications Jim, both on the ground in China and what's going to happen politically after that.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John.

Let's get a bit of history. Let's remind ourselves that Google launched Google.cn. That's its dedicated search site in China, back in January of 2006. Now this is the very service that could be taken down now. Now currently up until now, search results excluded web pages that were blocked by the government's filters, the so-called great firewall of China. Google also had other methods to censor content. Some of those included for example blocking results on Tiananmen Square around the time of the anniversary of the massacre.

Now these are currently accessible to users in China for the time being. Now Google says it complied with Beijing's demands at first because it believed the benefits of a quote more open Internet outweighed its discomfort over censorship. Now these four years, Google's market share has risen to more than 35 percent. That's doubled over the past three years. It is easily the most successful foreign Internet company in China. And some estimates put the size of China's online advertising market at nearly $3 billion. And I can tell you that analysts believe that about 1 percent of its global revenue comes from China and about 5 percent of Google sales come from China.

Now let's go on and look at the rest of the market. Of course, the big one in China, the biggest search engine is Baidu with more than 58 percent of the market. And analysts are saying it could benefit if, that's if Google withdraws. Let's just show you what's happening in the stock markets, that has reacted quickly to this news. Baidu you see up more than 13 percent on the Nasdaq and Google down around 1 percent. John.

DEFTERIOS: Jim, it's interesting because Google has been quite imbedded since going into the market since 2005, but this is not just a fixed line (ph) Internet story. Google's providing the search for China Mobile, which is government owned. So it's very complicated whether it decides to pull out or not.

BOULDEN: A lot of people just look at the PC, but China Mobile very big, several hundred million users, at least 100 million of those using that Google search on their phones. And it's a very key market. Of course, we're talking about the potential where China could go. It's in bed with China Mobile. Nokia is in bed with one of the competitors so that's interesting how that's working, but you can look at it and say that the potential when you have that many people who could be using mobile phones skipping the Internet altogether on their PCs. You could have 6,7, 800 million people one day. So that's why a lot of people are saying that this might just be a threat from Google and that they won't actually pull out because this incredible market that they could be getting into in the next few years.

DEFTERIOS: In fact it's extremely hard to believe that Google would pull out, but (INAUDIBLE) thanks a lot, Jim Boulden there.

Working in China of course has been anything but a smooth ride for Google. It's been a very difficult ride for the search engine throughout the years and it predates its Chinese site, Google.cn. In 2002, Google.com was made temporarily unavailable in China for the first time. And in 2005 Google was hit with a lawsuit after it hired the ex-Microsoft executive (INAUDIBLE) to head its Chinese unit. Now going to 2006, a year later, the China-based service went live on condition that it censored the (INAUDIBLE) objected to and that was extremely controversial back then.

And now let's fast forward to 2009, March 2009, YouTube, a division of Google of course was blocked by officials. Video showing Chinese security forces beating Tibetans caused that controversy. And just months later, a Chinese official accused the tech giant of spreading what he called obscene content via the Internet. And in October of last year, Chinese authors accused Google of scanning their works into its digital library without permission.

Now Evgeny Morozov is a leading thinker on the Internet and its political significance. He's contributing editor to "Foreign Policy" magazine and he joins us from Washington. First off Evgeny, I'd like to get into this concept of why Google thought it could be so bold to step forward with a move like this. Did they have to get that market share and that market weight and then come out with something like this?

EVGENY MOROZOV, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "FOREIGN POLICY": Well I think Google actually has very little choice over what they can do given that there have been those devastating cyber attacks which could have put the Chinese human rights activists at risk. And I think if Google kept it quiet and if that news leaked out from some third sources afterwards, I think Google would have a publicity disaster. So for them now I think the option is either to try to be very public about it or to try and wait and see what might happen. But the other option might have even more devastating results for Google.

DEFTERIOS: It's quite interesting because the early focus was on the cyber attacks that the Silicon Valley company, 34 companies, but you say more significant are the attacks on the e-mail accounts of the human rights activists in China.

MOROZOV: Well I think that's where the (INAUDIBLE) in a sense. It's not that Google has some private -- they do have a little private data, but it still doesn't compare with the data you can get from American chemical companies for example. What's more interesting about this is that even if Google does decide to pull out of China, it doesn't really mean that cyber attacks will stop. They can still continue because you'll still have the Google.com. You'll still have a lot of other Google services. So it's really hard to see how pulling out of China will save Google against future potential cyber attacks.

DEFTERIOS: Because it's such a large market Evgeny, let me pose this question. Can Chinese officials push back and say this is just the cost of doing business in this market and if you don't like it Google, you now need to leave?

MOROZOV: Yes, I don't think that the Chinese officials would actually be ready to compromise. I think if Google leaves, they actually will lose that much. They have (INAUDIBLE) Chinese (INAUDIBLE) Internet companies which have proven to be much easier to manipulate than control and to force into self censorship. So I think as far as the Chinese authorities are concerned, they'd actually be quite happy with Google leaving.

DEFTERIOS: In fact we saw a rally in Baidu stock, the search engine for China going up 16 percent today. The other political story here, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighing in on very quickly from (INAUDIBLE) basically saying she didn't like it. She's supposed to give a big speech on January 21st about Internet policy and democracy. What do you make of her jumping right on the back of the Google announcement?

MOROZOV: Well, she has a very big speech about hinterland freedom to make next week. And I think Google definitely provided a lot of interesting background to that speech this week. I think she was very quick to suggest that the Chinese government has to do something about the cyber attacks. She did not imply that they were responsible for it, but I think implicit in her statement was that they're somehow tolerant of the attacks.

I think that gets us into a really tricky situation, because even the American government itself doesn't really know and control what its own hackers are doing when they attack, let's say, the Web sites of the Iranian government.

So I think it's very tricky and I'm not really sure that the U.S. has the high moral ground that they claim to have here, because they don't really control their own hackers.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, OK. A final statement there.

Evgeny, thanks very much.

Evgeny Morozov joining us from Washington, DC.

We look forward to seeing that speech on the 21st from Hillary Clinton.

Well, it's one of the poorest countries in the world, now the misery is compound. We look at the fresh wounds inflict on Haiti. Our coverage of that devastating earthquake continues right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Welcome back.

I'm John Defterios in London.

This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS right here on CNN.

We'll return to our business coverage in just a moment.

But first, let's get you up to date with the developing situation, of course, in Haiti.

Hala Gorani has the latest now from the I Desk -- Hala.

(BREAKING NEWS COVERAGE)

DEFTERIOS: OK, Hala.

Thanks very much for the update.

Well, the earthquake that rocked Haiti has devastated what is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Stephanie Elam now joins me from New York for some background -- and, Stephanie, this is a country that, unfortunately, knows disaster -- wave after wave after wave.

What's the background on the economy here?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're so right about that, John. They're not immune to the -- the trouble and pain of natural disasters. And 80 percent of Haiti's population lives under the poverty line. And more than half of the population live on less than $1 a day. It's mostly an agricultural nation. Two thirds of all Haitians depend on farming for their livelihoods, but unemployment is widespread and many people do not have formal jobs.

According to the World Bank, the per capita income is just $560 a year. Just to put that into perspective, here in the United States, per capita income is more than $40,000.

And Haiti is extremely dependent on foreign aid. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973, providing $302 million to the country in fiscal 2009. Haiti also received more than $1 billion in debt relief from the World Bank in July. And the World Bank is now pledging more assistance in light of the earthquake -- John.

DEFTERIOS: Stephanie, it's quite interesting. Most people don't know this, but it sits on the same island as the Dominican Republic. And the Dominican Republic has had a very vibrant recovery in terms of its tourism. It's been able to build a niche for itself. But that's not the case for Haiti.

And why not?

ELAM: Yes, that's very true. It's definitely two different cultures on that island there and two different economies. And we asked an expert at Harvard this very same question. And he says Haiti has suffered at the hands of dysfunctional governments for pretty much its whole history and that's why it hasn't been able to build roads and other basic infrastructure needed to support tourism.

Drug trafficking has also been a problem, along with violent crime and also corruption.

There's also, on top of all of that, a physical constraint. Our Harvard expert says Haiti doesn't have the good beaches you find in other parts of the Caribbean because of its volcanic landscape. Even on the other side of the island, in the Dominican Republic.

But there are areas of Haiti's economy that were growing before this earthquake. Take the appall industry, for example. The United States has no tariffs in place on Haitian clothing exports. That's one effort to try to give the industry a boost. Apparel exports now account for two thirds of Haiti's total exports and nearly one tenth of its GDP.

Of course what happens now, that's really just an open question. Experts say the impact of this earthquake will be colossal and will beat up an already weakened economy. So no doubt the country is going to need a lot of financial help for relief, rebuilding, recovery and just support for all those people who have been devastated -- their families just devastated by this quake -- John.

DEFTERIOS: And they were just starting to turn the corner with the economic recovery.

Thanks very much.

Stephanie Elam joining us from New York.

Well, after the break, a mea culpa of sorts from four of the biggest names in banking. The head of Goldman Sachs is just one of the execs saying mistakes were, indeed, made.

We'll have a listen in, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: You're watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm John Defterios sitting in for Richard Quest.

Of course, we're keeping you up to date on the devastation seen in Haiti.

Let's get up to date on that story and go back to the I Desk with Hala Gorani -- Hala.

(BREAKING NEWS COVERAGE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

We've been covering, of course, every aspect of the Haiti story. We had the first report with Susan Candiotti on the ground with Hala Gorani.

Let's get another angle to the story, and that's turning it to Guillermo Arduino.

He's at the CNN International Weather Center.

He's been tracking some of the flights and relief efforts going down to Haiti -- Guillermo.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

Thank you, John.

And, also, we need to pay attention to the weather at the airport right now. This a look of the city of Port-au-Prince. And. You're going to see now -- we're going to fly into the airport. That is right next to the city. Here it is. And it's important to point out once again that it is fully operational. It has not been damaged. The weather is looking OK. We -- we do not have anything bad right now in terms of precipitation, nothing like that, of course, because of the temperatures you will see right now. We may see some thunderstorms later on, especially in the evening hours.

So we fly into the Caribbean again. This it pretty much what we expect -- 32 degrees, 33 in the evening and then 22 in morning hours.

The weather is bad in Europe, though. And then later on, I'll tell you that France was not in bad shape. We have some cancellations. In Paris remember that yesterday we were talking about the chance of having massive cancellations in Paris. In fact, it did not happen. But we do have some cancellations because of the fog.

Most of the snow fell in Great Britain and will continue to do so. And we have reports, as you see here. Look at how the -- the humidity is moving upwards here into Birmingham and Manchester. That's where we see the snow. Because of this front, this warm front over here, it is moderating the temperatures a little bit into Ireland. But the snow showers will continue. I'm talk about the Midlands especially.

In Germany, we have some snow, as well. We see reports coming from Mannheim and coming from Dortmund and Bremen and Frankfurt, as well. Much better in France. We saw some light snow showers in Paris, both at Charles de Gaulle/Orly. But we are not seeing significant snowfall anymore. The snow will continue to fall into Scotland, the Alpine Region, the southern parts of Germany.

We saw some snow in Manchester, Birmingham and also into Blackpool. But we may see some more, actually, for Britain, because of the system that I was talking about.

Moldavia, Ukraine, Romania, watch out -- you will see some more snow.

And these are the temps, moderating just a little bit into London. I promise you, on Friday, London will be much better than right now.

It is raining in Madrid. We see reports from Belfast the rain. And Biarritz in France, as well, we see rain.

Very cold conditions in China. If you want to know what's going to happen, the cold air is going to move away, finally, to the north and in the Russian Maritimes is where we will continue to see the extremely cold conditions. It's minus 31 right now in Vladivostok and minus 16 in Beijing. But if you're watching right now in the middle of the night from there, it's going to go up all the way to zero in Beijing, not a significant change in Vladivostok. Tokyo at seven and Taipei at 14.

At the same time in the United States, things are going back to normal, as well. We were above average in the Northern Plains. And you see that now here in the South, we are getting back to normal.

If you're planning to come to the United States for the weekend or afterward, things are coming back. So, you know, we're still in the middle of the winter, but at least the temperatures are rebounding.

Take Boston, minus two degrees right now; Washington, six degrees at this very moment; Minneapolis, minus five. Of course, the Northern Plains -- you know, this is normal in the Northern Plains to see these temps. But the South is improving -- Dallas at 16 degrees, as you see. And, of course, we will continue to talk about what's going on in Haiti with the earthquake. The -- the information is coming to us.

There's one aspect that I wanted to clarify concerning why this happened. So stay tuned with CNN because we'll touch on that subject, as well.

In the meantime, a commercial break.

When we come back -- OK, we go back to John -- I'm sorry, John, back to you.

DEFTERIOS: That's OK, Guillermo.

No problem, very much.

ARDUINO: OK.

DEFTERIOS: Thanks very much for the update on the weather and the reporting on Haiti, of course.

Before we go this hour, let's take a look at what's happening on the big board -- our big board to take a look at the what's happening on the big board in the New York Stock Exchange.

This has been a fairly choppy market, to be honest, throughout the day. We're now up about 56 points, 10684. By the way, that's nearly the highest level we've seen so far in 2010. They cannot break through that 10700 level.

We saw some of the banks under pressure and that's because four of the executives were appearing on Capitol Hill, testifying at what caused the financial crisis. We'll have more of that coverage tomorrow.

But that performance that we've seen from the Dow Industrials so far today really not too bad overall, because we saw such sharp sell-offs throughout the Chinese markets, as the -- the central bank there in China decided to tighten its reins.

And that's it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm John Defterios in for Richard Quest.

Christiane Amanpour is next, after the headlines on Haiti from the I Desk.

END