The Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, Manuel Cidre, emphasized that there is a shared effort with the Dominican Republic to promote economic and business exchange between the two nations.
Puerto Rico even opened a business office in the neighboring nation to facilitate this boost to trade relations.
“Last July we appointed the executive director of that office, Nelson Torres, and we are very pleased with what is happening in the Dominican Republic,” said Cidre, noting that last August he visited the Dominican Republic and met with several high-level government officials, as well as representatives of institutions and private organizations such as the Dominican chamber of commerce.
The Secretary indicated that beyond introducing himself, that first visit was important in the fact that “we agreed, both the officials of the Dominican Republic and the Department of Economic Development (and Commerce) on the need to strengthen the region… to present ourselves to the world as a strategic option and not present ourselves to the world as two different countries. Optimize and maximize the strengths of the Dominican Republic, and optimize and maximize the strengths of Puerto Rico. Not by looking at who makes what, but by looking at how together we become relevant to the world and position ourselves as a real option on this side of the hemisphere,” said Cidre.
He explained that this desire to combine Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which was already discussed in the 1980s in the area of manufacturing, “can be a reality today in the technological area, in the area of good practices, of starting production here and finishing it there. In short, how we can optimize and maximize this region, but with a common goal: to strengthen the region.
He said that with this alliance, both countries can take mutual advantage of the aspects in which they are more advanced.
As an example, he pointed out that Quisqueya is ahead of Puerto Rico in tourism, receiving some six million tourists a year, and “we could combine an offer that includes both countries”.
He added that the Dominican Republic “has four ports of world scope, we could optimize that advantage in the event of some kind of problem with the ports in Puerto Rico”.
He also pointed out that the Dominican Republic “has 157 air connections to the world, we can take advantage of that in the ‘transshipment’, together, as a destination”.
“And Puerto Rico has a relationship with the United States that the Dominican Republic longs for and would like to have. Therefore, Puerto Rico can be that strategic partner that brings much of the Dominican Republic’s production closer to the United States, through Puerto Rico,” he added.
Cidre admitted that in the Dominican Republic there are not only established Puerto Rican businessmen but also a growing interest of entrepreneurs to invest there. He added that in November, “Comercio y Exportación will make the first mission to the Dominican Republic of local businessmen, looking not only to take from here to there, but also to see from there to here. It is the bilateral relationship that we are looking for”.
“It is to strengthen the Caribbean region, with Puerto Rico leading the effort along with the Dominican Republic,” insisted Cidre.
He considered that the Dominican counterpart has a similar vision and has even created a multidisciplinary group that works identifying opportunities between both countries.
“I think that that competition at one point in time, of this is mine and this is not yours, I think it is behind us. There is a genuine intention and a true conviction that if we as Caribbean islands do not insert ourselves, we can disappear tomorrow from being competitive countries, because the whole world continues to grow,” said the secretary.
He recalled that the Dominican Republic “has been growing for 12 years at an average rate of 8%, and wherever you go you can see it”. He added that its main base is “a local productivity so robust that when combined with productivity from abroad, which when combined with the visit of the whole world, makes Santo Domingo a very important country”.
He insisted that the initiative is about a strategic union to aspire to be “a relevant region for the whole world”.
“We can and must claim in a short time the absolute leadership of the entire immediate geographic basin, the entire Caribbean. Puerto Rico has that capacity and so does the Dominican Republic. The idea is to strengthen the region,” insisted Cidre, noting that both nations even have programs to encourage mutual investment.