Apr. 28, 2013
The Dominican Republic is Latin America's ninth largest economy, behind Ecuador and ahead of Guatemala, Uruguay, and Panama. The many trade benefits it enjoys as a result of multiple free trade agreements (FTAs), as well as its investor-friendly business environment, sees the country regularly attract FDI at high rates compared to Latin America's strongest economies—a boon to the country's authorities, which have worked to turn the Dominican Republic into a gateway to the region.
The Dominican Republic, over recent years, has expanded cooperation with the region through membership in various organizations and FTAs. The country is a member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and an observer in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is fortified by a single market. Although not a full member, the Dominican Republic is an active participant in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), a subgroup of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), which is a base for economic dialogue with the EU.
The most significant trade agreement the country has signed in recent years is the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The Central America and Dominican Republic region represents the third largest export market for the US in Latin America, behind only Mexico and Brazil. Latin America is currently growing as an export destination for the Dominican Republic's industrialists, with Haiti the largest recipient of Dominican goods following the US. In import terms, the country's main partners in Latin America are Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia.
In 2012, a cooperation agreement was also signed between the Dominican Republic and the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. “It is necessary to increase the amount of meetings between entrepreneurs and traders," said Victorin Lurel, Minister of Overseas France, adding that the grand idea was to see French companies in Guadeloupe mobilized to satisfy demand from the Dominican Republic. “The Guadeloupe region has an undeniable know-how that can be used toward the development of an urban community in greater Santo Domingo," he added, concluding that it is now “up to private sector operators to define the terms and areas where joint ventures could be considered."
Undeniably, however, the country's closest ties are with its neighbor, Haiti. Cooperation has been ramped up in recent years, especially following a devastating earthquake in the West of Hispaniola. Indeed, Haiti now looks to its neighbor as it seeks to rebuild. “Haiti can benefit from the expertise that the Dominican Republic has cultivated by building farms," said Laurent Salvador Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti. Hoping to see an increase in Dominican investors in the country, the Prime Minister added that, “job creation could also come about as Dominican investors come and establish businesses in Haiti." He also outlined goals to strengthen the trade relationship and market specific products, such as coffee and mangoes, as well as the country's indigenous beer, Prestige. “There are several areas where we can improve trade relations with our neighbor, but the relationship we already have is strong. We anticipate that it will continue to be strong for years to come," the Prime Minister concluded.