Dominican Republic - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2021-09-05

With a population of 10.8 million consumers and a GDP of $82.67 billion in 2020, the Dominican Republic (DR) is the tenth largest economy in Latin America and the largest in the Caribbean region.  A middle income country, the economy is based on tourism, agriculture, Free Trade Zone manufacturing, mining, real estate, and service industries.

GDP decreased in 2020 by 6.74%, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Key economic sectors include construction, agriculture, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, transportation and local manufacturing.  Looking forward, major declines in tourism led to a contraction in most economic sectors.  U.S. companies may still find opportunities, however, in areas related to healthcare, 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 US$12.7 billion in 2020, with U.S. exports to the DR totaling US$7.5 billion.

The Central American and DR Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), was implemented in March 2007.  Under CAFTA-DR, duties on imports of U.S. products have been mostly eliminated on manufactured goods, with the remainder scheduled for elimination over the next two to three years.

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 almost two million people, clustered primarily in the northeastern states and Florida, whose remittance payments help support the home-country economy.  This trend has increased sharply during the COVID pandemic, which has served as an additional source of economic stability for the country.  Dominican businesspersons are frequent visitors to United States and are very familiar with U.S. business practices.

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, in spite of COVID-19 challenges.  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 US and other western investors.  However, concerns over corruption, weak rule of law, and other inefficiencies continue to be a concern for US companies interested in exploring local market opportunities.