Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.
With a population of 11.1 million consumers and a GDP of $94.2 billion in 2021, the Dominican Republic (DR) is the tenth largest economy in Latin America and the largest in the Caribbean region open for commercial trade. A middle-income country, the economy is based on tourism, agriculture, Free Trade Zone manufacturing, mining, real estate, and service industries.
GDP grew by 19.5% in 2021, illustrating the economy’s post-COVID recovery, or 6.0 percent over pre-pandemic 2019, indicating real economic growth not simply post-pandemic rebound. Key economic sectors include construction, agriculture, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, transportation and local manufacturing. U.S. companies may also find opportunities in areas related to healthcare, machinery, financial services, IT, disaster preparedness, and Free Trade Zone manufacturing.
The U.S. share of the DR consumer goods market is estimated at approximately 70 percent. There is very high receptivity to U.S. goods and services, and U.S. product standards are generally accepted. Bi-lateral trade between the United States and the DR amounted to $17 billion in 2021, with U.S. exports to the DR totaling $10.7 billion, making the DR the fifth largest Latin American importer of U.S. goods and services.
The Central American and DR Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), was implemented in March 2007. Under CAFTA-DR, duties on imports of US products have been mostly eliminated on manufactured goods, with the remainder scheduled for elimination by 2025.
The strength of the trade relationship stems from close geographic proximity and the historic cultural and personal ties that many Dominicans have with the United States. This is reinforced by a Dominican diaspora in the U.S. of more than two million people, clustered primarily in the northeastern states and Florida, whose remittance payments help support the home-country economy. Dominican businesspersons are frequent visitors to the United States and are very familiar with U.S. business practices. In addition, there are an estimated 300,000 U.S. citizens living within Dominican Republic.
The opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) won a resounding victory in the July 5, 2020 Dominican general election, ending 16 years of dominance by the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). PRM presidential candidate Luis Abinader defeated PLD nominee Gonzalo Castillo 52 percent to 37 percent. Civil society and international observers praised the Dominican people and electoral authorities for a voting process that was orderly and peaceful. The PRM also secured a majority in the Senate and strong representation in the Chamber of Deputies. President Abinader has made several public statements about his administration’s anticorruption efforts, and his administration has initiated several efforts to improve the overall investment climate in the DR, with an eye to attracting increased numbers of U.S. and other western investors. However, concerns over corruption, weak rule of law, and other inefficiencies continue to be a concern for U.S. companies interested in exploring local market opportunities.
Political & Economic Environment: State Department’s website for background on the country’s political environment.