Several international guests took part in the conference organized by Víctor Bisonó, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Mipymes of the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean country is positioned as a reference for Free Trade Zones, engines of employment generation.
During the panel discussion, on the occasion of the traditional National Free Zone Day, the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, has decreed the creation of a Special Commission that will seek to continue identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s productive sectors involved in global supply chains. For the President, “the free trade zones of our country are no longer zones of promises, but spaces of results. They generate a great potential that makes us grow every day”.
Before representatives of the productive guilds, Luis José Bonilla, president of the Dominican Association of Free Trade Zones, said that his sector “celebrates having recovered from the hard onslaught of the pandemic”, and that in spite of the paralysis, almost 200,000 technical and professional jobs have been maintained. The Dominican Republic has recovered its exports in the first half of 2021, with an increase of 28.4% over the same period last year. 59.6% of the total exported value of $4,758.3 mdd has been made through this special regime.
The IDB head, Mauricio Claver-Carone, and the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, intervened via teleconference from Washington. The leaders coincided in congratulating the national Executive for its avant-garde vision for the economic development of the country. This is being reflected in the boom of ‘near shoring’. The latter term refers to the transfer of goods and services between nearby countries. This in turn requires deepening financial and real investments, job training and adequate legal frameworks.
Free Trade Zones: the pulse of the Economy
The Free Trade Zones of the DR began their development in 1969, when the transnational Gulf and Western Americas Corp. established a sugar export point in La Romana. This type of industrial parks currently employ about 7% of the population, generating, together with the tourism sector, most of the country’s foreign exchange. Companies operating in Free Trade Zones enjoy low taxation. As well as the socio-political stability offered by the democratic regime prevailing in the eastern 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola.
Mercado Magazine has reviewed in its June 2021 print edition the Free Zone frenzy in the Dominican Republic. The 18 projects recently approved by the National Council of Export Processing Zones (CNZF), with an investment of over US$69 million, will generate at least 4,000 direct jobs. Additionally, the businesses of Swedish Match and Bombah Inc in Santiago, and Global Industrial & Logistics Park in San Gregoria de Nigua alone will provide jobs for 20,000 people.
The government of President Luis Abinader has shared optimistic data of a buoyant industry. It is estimated that the year 2021 could end with an inter-annual growth in exports of 108%, as well as investments of more than $200 million dollars. For Minister Bisonó his portfolio is working to convert the ‘import subsidy’ into an ‘export promotion’. The official participated in spring in the IV CEAPI Ibero-American Congress in Madrid, exposing the Dominican competitive advantages on the other side of the Atlantic.