Country Description

 

Economy  
The Dominican Republic is a middle-income developing country primarily dependent on agriculture, trade and services, especially tourism. Although the service sector has recently taken over from agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in tourism and the Free Trade Zones), agriculture remains the most important sector in terms of domestic consumption and is second place (behind mining) in terms of export earnings. Dominican agricultural exports, many of which have received organic certification throughout the world, include sugarcane, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, and bananas.

Tourism accounts for more than $1 billion in annual earnings. Free Trade Zone earnings and tourism are the fastest growing export sectors. The establishment of free zones has succeeded in attracting much foreign investment, creating employment and spurring growth. The principal areas of industrial production in these zones are textiles, electronics, tobacco products, jewellery, and pharmaceuticals. Remittances from Dominicans living in the United States are estimated to be about $1.5 billion per year.

Technology is a new area of development for the country. In 1999, the Technological Institute of the Americas was opened, with the purpose of training the young labour force that will be employed in the new high-tech industry. The Santo Domingo Cyberpark, the first technology orientated industrial free zone of the country, was also created around this time. It is intended to attract investments in the field of technology, offering services such as software development, computer design and the manufacture of high-tech products.

Despite an economic crisis in 2002 due to the collapse of several banks, the devaluation of the peso and three-digit inflation, the Dominican economy has been improving dramatically since 2004. The Central Bank report on the economy performance from January to December 2004 indicates that the economy grew 2% during that period, with a last quarter of 3.3%. This is in dramatic contrast with GDP performance in 2003, a year when GDP declined 1.9%. There has also been a downtrend on inflation. The economy grew by 4% the first term of 2005.

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Dominican Republic Embassy UK 2005