2018 is set to be a golden year for Dominican Republic’s exports. Or that, at least, is the government’s plan. It has declared 2018 to be the “Year of Promoting Exports”, as a key measure within the framework aimed at reactivating the country’s economy.
The Dominican Republic has one of the most vibrant economies in Latin America and the Caribbean, with an average GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014, which later increased to 7.2% in 2014 and 2015.
Despite the growth slowdown in 2017 to 4.5% and a more agitated economic climate triggered by inflation, its economy is persistently stable and outlook remains optimistic.
“In Central America and the Dominican Republic, product growth continues to be strong, driven by larger-than-expected remittances flows, better financial conditions, and good harvests.”
- Alejandro Werner, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Following IMF’s forecast, the Dominican Republic’s economy is expected to grow by 5.5% in 2018 - much higher than what’s expected of its neighboring countries. The government’s declaration of degree 437-17 to promote exports will likely play a big part in achieving this.
Decree 437-17 encourages all public and private institutions to collaborate with the country’s commerce, export and investment ministries, free zone councils and competitiveness councils to promote the export sector and establish an export culture. Measures have already been taken to speed up construction permits, the renewal of permits and patents, ease the creation of companies and reduce necessary documents for the exportation of medicines, cosmetics, and food.
Read more: What does the Dominican Republic import?
The United States remains the main importer of Dominican Republic’s exports, and if positive growth expectations are met, the growth of the US economy as the Dominican Republic’s main trading partner will lead to growth for the Dominican Republic itself.
The most exported products from the Dominican Republic to the United States are:
Medical instruments and cigars not only top the list but are the leading exports of all major products exported by the Dominican Republic, representing a 93% growth for medical equipment and 77% for tobacco.
Farther north, the Dominican Republic’s exports to Canada hit $770 million dollars in 2016. Canada has the fifth largest commercial volume in the world, and is the third largest customers of Dominican producers, in large part, thanks to gold.
Canadian company Barrick Gold’s gold mining activities in Cotuí plays an immense role in the large rise of exports to Canada. The volume of Dominican exports to Canada formed only 0.93% of total exports in 2012. But following a renegotiation of an agreement between Barrick Gold and the Dominican Republic’s government in 2013, this figured soared to 12.23% in 2013.
Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain make the top five commercial European partners of the Dominican Republic. As a whole, it’s the Dominican Republic’s second-largest export market, after North America.
Traditional products such as cigars, cocoa beans, bananas and liqueurs form the bulk of the Dominican Republic’s exports to European countries. But the variety of products exported to Europe has increased in recent years, from a concentrated model in which five main products represented 80% of total exports, to a diversified one in where there is less dependence on only a few products.
Medical instruments, ferroalloys, footwear or plastic goods are some of the products that have begun to gain traction among Dominican exports to Europe in recent years. The Netherlands is the second-largest clients of the Dominican Republic’s footwear industry, and the third-largest for plastic goods.
Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands are the second-, third- and fourth-largest importers of Dominican Republic’s medical instruments respectively. Needless to say, the heat map of Dominican exports to Europe is changing.
India is the fifth-largest importer of the Dominican Republic’s goods. The value of Dominican exports to India amounted to $592 million in 2016, and nearly all of these came from just three products: 90% from gold exports, 5.9% from ferroalloys and 1.8% from cocoa beans.
The relationship between the Dominican Republic and China draw a markedly positive trade balance in favor of the Asian giant, with imports representing 14% of the Dominican Republic’s imports in 2016. Dominican exports to China, on the other hand, barely scratched 1.4% of the total.
But despite modest volumes amid mutual will and cooperation, exports to China continue to register the largest growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Exports of raw materials to China make up more than half of the exported value. Exports of medical instruments also play an important role, accounting for 10% of the total exports with China as the fourth-largest importer in this industry.