By TBY | Dominican Republic | Feb 04, 2015
The Dominican Republic enjoys a strong and long-lasting relationship with the United States, evidenced by extensive socioeconomic, political, and cultural ties. Diplomatic relations between the two nations were established on […]
The Dominican Republic enjoys a strong and long-lasting relationship with the United States, evidenced by extensive socioeconomic, political, and cultural ties. Diplomatic relations between the two nations were established on March 26, 1884, when John M. Langston presented his credentials as American Charge d’Affaires to the Dominican Government. The strength of the US-DR relationship stems from the countries’ geographic proximity, as well as personal ties that many Dominicans have with the US (the Dominican diaspora in the US, clustered predominantly in New York and Florida, amounts to 1.5 million people). On the other hand, approximately 250,000 US citizens live in the Dominican Republic, with 1.5 million visiting the country each year. And seeking ways to extend mutually-beneficial trade and investment, the two nations work together both bilaterally and through the CAFTA-DR agreement.
Along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, the US and the Dominican Republic are parties to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), the first free trade agreement between the US and a group of smaller developing economies.
The CAFTA-DR, signed on August 5, 2004, eliminates tariffs, reduces barriers to services, promotes transparency, and creates new economic opportunities. By facilitating trade and investment among its members, CAFTA-DR promotes and stimulates regional integration.
Under CAFTA-DR, 100% of US industrial and consumer goods will enter the Dominican Republic duty free by 2015, and nearly all US agricultural exports will obtain duty free access to the Dominican Republic by 2020. Since the agreement went into effect in 2007, US exports to the Dominican Republic have seen substantial growth of 34.5%.
Over the past few decades, US-DR trade and investment links have seen an increase, first as a result of U.S. trade preference programs and then CAFTA-DR. The US is, by far, the Dominican Republic’s most important trading partner, with two-way trade totaling more than $11.5 billion in 2013, and accounting for over 65% of the Dominican Republic’s total trade. The Dominican Republic is currently the US’s 44th largest goods trading partner. In 2013, US goods exports to the Dominican Republic totaled $7.2 billion and goods imports amounted to $4.3 billion.
The Dominican Republic was the US’s 38th largest goods export market in 2013; US goods exported to the Dominican Republic saw a 3.2% increase in comparison to 2012, amounting to $7.2 billion. The largest export categories were: mineral fuel ($1.4 billion), electrical machinery ($588 million), machinery ($534 million), articles donated for relief and returns ($499 million), and plastic ($419 million). US exports of agricultural products to the Dominican Republic in 2013 amounted to $1.1 billion. Top categories included: soybean meals ($174 million), wheat ($153 million), tobacco ($97 million), and dairy products ($88 million).
In 2013, the Dominican Republic was the US’s 52nd largest supplier. Dominican goods exported to the US totaled $4.3 billion, denoting a 2.5% decline from 2012. The five leading categories in 2013 included: optical and medical instruments ($722 million), tobacco ($496 million), electrical machinery ($482 million), knitted apparel ($373 million), and jewelry components ($358 million). Meanwhile, Dominican exports of agricultural products to the US totaled $354 million, with top categories including raw beet and sugar ($56 million), cocoa beans ($53 million), and fresh vegetables ($47 million).
A NEW FACILITY
The new facility, which opened its doors in June 2014, was constructed at a cost of $193 million. The compound hosts the US embassy and personnel of close to 700 representing 18 US Government agencies, previously scattered in separate facilities. The incumbent US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James (Wally) Brewster, who was officially sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on November 22, 2013, highlighted the facility’s role, which, in his opinion, “symbolizes not only the strength and meaning of our current relationship, but also represents a tangible symbol of our commitment to continue our relations in the area of education, environment, energy, trade, human rights, citizen security and consular affairs, among others.”