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A STRONG INTRODUCTION

Dominican Republic 2017 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Francesca Ortiz, Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic (BRITCHAM), on the implications of Brexit, the potential in the hydrocarbons industry, and other areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Francesca Ortiz
BIOGRAPHY
Francesca Ortiz is the Executive Director of BRITCHAM of the Dominican Republic. She is also founding partner of the law firm InvertLex Global Consulting Group, where she provides advisory services in foreign investments and development of public-private partnerships and government affairs. She has represented the Dominican government at important international forums and has worked in the drafting, review, and implementation of important acts and law amendments.

Following the Brexit vote, what are the biggest concerns from Dominican businesses, exporters, and investors?

The main concerns regarding Brexit are related to the incentives established in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Dominican Republic and the UK have strengthened their trade relations through the EPA. A gradual tariff clearance has been observed for the products covered under the agreement that has benefited both countries. The concern is whether those incentives are going to be maintained. We understand this is an opportunity to strengthen the business relationship between the two countries. The UK is aware that we are an important commercial partner and the government had expressed that they are willing to maintain and strengthen this relationship. We also see this as an opportunity for the Dominican Republic to negotiate a stronger bilateral agreement rather than a regional agreement. BRITCHAM will continue to incentivize a business relationship between both countries and serve as a platform between the private sector, the Dominican government, and the British government to ensure and motivate negotiations on this new opportunity and challenge.

What is the chamber's role in the development of the hydrocarbon industry here and how will petroleum exploration take off here in the coming years?

The chamber had a chapter for oil and gas this year on the fifth edition of the Dominican Week in the UK. We had several important meetings with law firms and potential investors, along with the World Petroleum Council, and the Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change. There is a great deal of potential for this industry and important exploration data has been made available free of charge by the Ministry of Energy and Mine of the Dominican Republic. We have had feedback from the British Embassy in the Dominican Republic that British companies on this industry are keen on investing in this sector and seeking long-term business. Hydrocarbons will need a great deal of attention from the private and public sectors.

What are some of the biggest challenges international companies face when they set up a business here?

One of our chamber's main objective is to support foreign investors interested on investing in our country. Among the main challenges facing foreign companies, are those concerning legal security, which should always be strengthened. In this regard, BRITCHAM works closely with the British Embassy and the representative bodies of the public authorities to guide and facilitate the process of establishing operations in the Dominican Republic. We offer advice and share statistics about the market and also arrange meetings with key people in both the public and private sector.

What sectors offer the greatest potential for international investors over the next five years in the Dominican Republic?

We have had the most growth of any regional country in recent years and we also have several legal incentives in various sectors; for example, renewable energy and the film industry. Sectors such as energy, film, oil and gas, infrastructure, agriculture, and security, among others, have the most potential. Settings such as these motivate BRITCHAM to continue its efforts to promote the advantages and opportunities of trade and investment.

What are the chamber's key objectives in 2017?

To continue working on increasing commercial trade between the Dominican Republic and the UK, creating and identifying business opportunities for both countries, and attracting British investment, working together with the British Embassy and the Dominican government, are the main objectives of BRITCHAM for 2017. We will continue to promote and facilitate the development of business relationships between the Dominican Republic and the UK, and create networking opportunities between our partners and potential investors.


 

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