Imports from Belgium will exceed Dominican exports by US$36.7 million in 2022.
Dominican products conquer the palate of 11.5 million Belgians, an action that represents an opportunity to diversify the export destination country. Between 2014 and 2022 alone, the Dominican Republic exported US$732.5 million to Belgium, with 2022 reporting the highest traded value of US$123.3 million, followed by 2021 with US$102.7 million. If 2014 and 2022 are compared, a growth of 81% is evident, going from US$68.1 million to US$123.3 million.
“The government policies implemented by the Government are oriented towards economic growth, which has positioned the Dominican Republic as one of the fastest growing regional hubs,” considers the Belgian ambassador in Havana, Cuba, Jean-Jacques Bastien.
The European Union is a market that hosts almost 500 million consumers. “We are the gateway to the important European market, but what is complicated are the quality and safety standards we require to market foreign products,” he explained in a conversation with elDinero.
The diplomat suggests transforming production at a technical level to meet European demand. “It is not necessary to stop exporting agricultural products, but to achieve greater technification. The country must invest in technological equipment and create export-oriented standards,” he said.
The Dominican Republic stands out for cocoa sales in Europe. This is evidenced by cocoa exports, which amounted to US$53.3 million. This is equivalent to US$7.6 million more than 2021, when this amount was set at US$45.7 million and US$31.5 million more than 2020 (US$21.8 million).
Between 2018 and 2019, the sale of cocoa to the Belgian market presented a 54.1% decrease, going from US$45.1 million to US$20.7 million, that is, US$24.4 million difference, according to the Export and Investment Center (ProDominicana).
Cindy Pellegrini, Economic and Commercial Advisor of the Walloon Agency for Export and Foreign Investment (AWEX), stressed that the Walloon region supports producers in “adjusting” to the regulations and adding value to articles of export origin.
However, the Directorate General of Customs (DGA) indicates that the import of Belgian products to Dominican territory amounted to US$806 million between 2014 and 2022. When analyzing the trade balance, a 10% deficit against imports is evident, as foreign exchange from exports amounted to US$732.5 million.
Data indicate that 1.5 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) generate 2 million jobs. According to the ambassador, these businesses add value to the economy and generate skilled jobs.
The Dominican Central Bank (BC) registers an employed population of 4,398,400. Of this, 52.1% is made up of unregulated work, with 2,293,208 and the remaining 47.9% of the formal market, with 2,105,195.
“Mitigating the informality of MSMEs is a challenge for the authorities. A country cannot function without tax revenues because it is a collection that is invested in the different productive systems,” he explained.
On the other hand, aligning the economic system to sustainability is key in the face of climate change, with the private sector being a relevant actor to comply with Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to Karelle Lambert, director for the Americas at AWEX, sustainability enables the development of new businesses.
“The first step is to raise consumer awareness about sustainability, then we have developed recycling companies that allow us to make a profit and at the same time take care of the environment,” she said. He also noted that Belgium has invested €15 million in the implementation of solar panels in Montecristi.
The ambassador cited the challenges of the Dominican travel and tourism industry. “Ministers must plan for the growth of tourists, because it will require potable water, proper solid waste management, among others, and it is important that the authorities in advance to avoid problems,” he explained. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur), the arrival of Belgians presents a fluctuating growth in the last 10 years.
For 2013 it reported 28,091 visitors, in 2014, 36,616; 2015, 37,156; and 2016, 41,688. Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2018 it presents a slight decrease of 7.1%.
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