Dominican Republic - Country Commercial Guide
Building Products

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-08-23

Overview

In the last two decades (and prior to the pandemic), construction activity showed remarkable growth in the Dominican Republic, reflecting the substantial investment by the Dominican Government and the private sector.  The added value of construction presented an interannual variation of -10.7% during 2020, showing a trend towards the recovery of activity from the second half of the year. In this sense, the results in the months of October (2.7%), November (2.9%) and December (4.0%) stand out, resulting in an interannual variation of 3.2% in the October-December period, which reflects an improvement compared to the behavior observed in the quarters April-June (-33.8%) and July-September (-11.0%), associated with the effects of the total slowdown of projects in execution since the end of March, as a preventive measure taken by the Government of the Dominican Republic for the spread of COVID-19.

This slight recovery is largely due to the execution of private investment projects, resumed after a pause during the pandemic, which have been driven by the credit facilities made available by monetary authorities, with the construction sector being one of the main recipients of these resources. Likewise, the various infrastructure works, and the conditioning of roads carried out by the public sector, have had an impact, such as the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Santiago-Puerto Plata tourist highway. It is important to highlight that this sector continuous to be of high importance within the DR due to its multiplier effect and its capacity to promote other economic activities.

In the period from January-December 2020, the volume of national imports and sales of the main inputs of the construction sector presented interannual variations in the order of -21.1%for paint, -5.0% for cement, -1.1% for rods and -7.3% for the rest of the materials used in construction. It is worth highlighting the recovery of the national sales of cement and rebar from the second half of the year, registering a growth of 9.7% and 9.3%, respectively, during said period. On the other hand, asphalt cement imports were reduced by 68.0%.

The resources channeled through the financial system for the construction and acquisition of houses reached the sum of $ 5 billion at the end of the year 2020, which were higher by 0.3% with respect to the same period of the previous year. The GODR launched several low-income housing projects to start by Fall 2021.

 

2019

2020

2021 (estimated)

Total Market Size

686.8

585.7

602.4

Total Local Production

56.0

39.4

45.3

Total Exports

30.4

12.1

18.2

Total Imports

661.2

558.4

575.3

Imports from the U.S.

163.7

114.8

132.4

Unit: (Millions of U.S. Dollars)

Exchange rate: RD$57.30 – US$1

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division

Dominican Government investment in public works increased by 13 percent in 2019 over 2018 to over $900 million.  The factors contributing to this growth are investments made by the Dominican Government in construction related to several mega-projects.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the sector.

During the first quarter of 2021, the added value of construction activity registered a year-on-year growth of 21.5%, giving it the greatest impact on the growth of the economy during that period. This behavior shows the key role of construction in terms of its multiplier effect and its great capacity to promote economic growth.

The sector’s performance is associated with the resumption of important tourism projects, the reactivation of real estate projects for residential units, and the start of new programs to expand the number of medium and low-income family homes in the market. Additionally, the conditioning of land routes by the GODR, as well as efforts to improve local water supply, have also played a key role.

U.S. products enjoy an import market share of approximately 21 percent in the local construction sector. We expect this relationship to continue through 2021.  Best sales prospects, at least for the short term, include products used in the construction of low-to-medium cost housing, shopping malls, and commercial buildings.  Public works projects, such as highways, bridges, and marine ports also present short-term opportunities.

There is strong competition in this sector as companies from the United States, Asia, Europe, and various Central and South American countries attempt to develop business opportunities locally. In order of importance, the main selling points for building products are: 1) price, 2) quality, and 3) time to delivery.

The local building industry is open to foreign companies interested in selling their products in the Dominican market.  The best way to enter the market is by finding a distributor who is familiar with the Dominican technical requirements and who can be as competitive and aggressive as the local firms already working with other foreign companies.

Since the Dominican Republic is a member of CAFTA-DR, most U.S. manufactured goods enter the country duty free.  CAFTA-DR gives U.S. companies as significant trading advantage over non-CAFTA-DR competitors.  However, the openness of the market has not only favored US companies because other countries have been aggressively entering the Dominican market, resulting in a significant increase in competition.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Located in a tropical climate, the Dominican Republic’s construction industry is not subject to seasonal fluctuations.  With lower labor costs, the Dominican Republic’s home building techniques and materials can differ somewhat from those used in United States as Dominican houses in the cities are primarily made of cement.  Metal and prefabricated structures are starting to be more widely used. In rural areas, where incomes can be very low, houses are commonly made of wood and corrugated galvanized zinc sheeting.  It also important to note that, in the past two years, Dominican builders having increasingly been incorporating green building techniques into their projects.

In major cities, interior finishing represents a significant market opportunity for U.S. building products.  Most houses have ceramic tile floors; some may use parquet or even marble floors for upscale building apartments that are popular among the upper-class in Santo Domingo.

Best prospect products include

  • Heavy Construction Equipment (including used)
  • High-end aluminum/ wood doors and windows
  • Bathroom and kitchen fixtures
  • Wood lumber and wood products
  • Electrical fixtures
  • Lighting products
  • Plumbing (metal) and welding products
  • Roof products (sealers) 
  • Asphalt mixtures
  • Steel products
  • Prefabricated structures
  • Hand tools

Opportunities

The local building industry is open to foreign companies interested in selling their products in the Dominican market.  American products in general enjoy a very good reputation for quality and receptivity is high among those able to afford them. 

Domestic Production

Local industry produces cement, cement block, concrete, concrete mixes, tiling, mosaics, paint, and steel rebar.  In addition, there are locally manufactured PVC pipes and connectors, sanitary ware, tanks, wood doors and windows, metal windows and frames, fiber glass products, sanitary and gas installations, and some electrical accessories. 

Construction firms targeting the middle- to upper- classes generally prefer imported building products because of the high quality.

Third - Country Imports

According to experts, building products from other countries, especially those from China, Taiwan and Central/South America, may not meet the same quality standards as American or European countries.  Nevertheless, imported products from China and South America have the most presence in the market.  Asian building products often have a price advantage for very cost-sensitive projects and are consequently widely used in government-funded projects such as hospitals, schools, and low-cost housing projects.

U.S. Market Position Share

U.S. companies have maintained a good position in the Dominican market, but they have not been significantly increasing market share over the past few years. However, the market still offers significant advantages to U.S. exporters.  Many local end-users/importers have expressed concern that that numerous U.S. companies have failed to make themselves available for potential local buyers.  Meanwhile, suppliers from ot

her countries are quite aggressive when applying their selling techniques.

Resources

Sheila Diaz de Andujar, Senior Commercial Specialist: sheila.diaz@trade.gov
Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Comunicaciones – MOPC – (Ministry of Public Works and Communications
Banco Central de la República Dominicana (National Central Bank):
Colegio Dominicano de Ingenieros, Arquitectos y Agrimensores – CODIA – (Dominican Association of Engineers and Architects)