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.