Dominican Republic Essay

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The Dominican  Republic is an island located  at the core of the Antilles Archipelago in the Caribbean and it is the second in extension within the Greater Antilles. The Dominican  economy is generally considered to be lower middle income with the majority of business being small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs).

About half of Dominicans live in rural areas and many are small landholders. More than three-quarters of the population   have  low  educational  attainment levels, reaching only a secondary level of education.

The country has a representative democratic system of government, yet antidemocratic and exclusivist processes take place at all levels within the government, which result in a political system that  promotes  corruption  and irresponsibility  and encourages  a lack of governance. This affects the role of regulatory institutions and organizational  dynamics in both the public and private sector, as well as the way business is generally conducted, as there is evidence of a lack of business ethics that affects both social and political life.

In terms of economic development, after processes of economic and political transformation in the 1970s and  1980s, the  1990s were a period  of accelerated social transformation. Following a global and regional trend, the country moved toward the readaptation of its productive  apparatus  and  commercial  openness aimed  at  regional  integration  and  global insertion. After an initial recession in 1990–91, the country adopted  sound  macroeconomic policies oriented  at attracting  and creating a new environment for direct foreign  investment,  which  resulted  in  a decade  of continual  growth  in the economy. For instance,  the gross  national  product  (GNP)  grew  speedily  from 1993 to  2000, reaching  7.7 percent  per  year from 1996 to 2000. As a result,  the  rate  of expansion  of Dominican  production sustained  the  highest  levels in the Latin American region, widely surpassing the regional average. Similar rates have been maintained to the present. However, though there has been a notable economic growth, this was not balanced with the development of institutional reforms and policies needed  to increase distributive  equality, create long term sustainability, protect  macroeconomic stability, and achieve consolidation of the state of law.

The primary bases of revenue are tourism and free trade zones. The main economic  sectors are services (tourism  and  transportation), industrial  production (sugar refining, pharmaceuticals,  cement, light manufacturing,  construction, and  non-fuel  minerals  such as nickel, gold, and silver), and agriculture (sugarcane, coffee, cocoa, bananas,  tobacco,  rice, plantains,  and beef ). In addition, the economy relies heavily on transfers from Dominicans living abroad (US$1.6 billion).

In terms of trade, the Dominican economy is very active both with exports and imports. The exports are mainly from processing  and free trade  zones (FTZ) and include textiles, sugar, coffee, ferronickel, cacao, tobacco, meats, and medical supplies exported to the United  States, Canada,  western  Europe,  and  South Korea. The country  imports  foodstuffs, petroleum, industrial  raw materials, and capital goods from the United  States, Japan, Germany,  Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia.

Economic   activity  has  increased;   for  example, total imports  in 2004 amounted  to US$7.84 billion, and in 2007 they amounted  to US$8.797 billion. This has been strengthened by the country’s 2005 ratification  and  2007 implementation of the  Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), which was signed by the  Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,  Honduras, and Nicaragua  with the United  States and is expected  to promote  substantial  economic  growth, especially in the FTZ industry.

As shown, the Dominican Republic maintains business and trade relationships with a variety of countries throughout the world. Regionally, though the country has not been successful in its attempt  to become part of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), it signed the CARICOM–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in 2001 and helps the country  expand  its commercial  markets,  especially encouraging special trading arrangements in agricultural products.  In addition, the country is a member of the Association  of Caribbean  States (ACS), benefiting from the Association’s special committees that focus on reinforcing regional policies in trade, transport,  sustainable  tourism,  and  natural  disasters  for the Caribbean Basin.

Bibliography:     

  1. Banco Interamericano   de   Desarrollo, Republica  Dominicana:  Documento  de Pais,idbdocs.iadb.org (cited March  2009);
  2. Espinal, J. Hartlyn, and J. M. Kelly, “Performance Still Matters: Explaining Trust in Government in the Dominican Republic,” Comparative Political Studies (v.39/2, 2006);
  3. E. Finkel, C. A. Sabatini, and G. G. Bevis, “Civic Education, Civil Society, and Political Mistrust in a Developing Democracy: The Case of the Dominican Republic,” World Development  (v.28/11, 2000);
  4. F. Jaramillo and D. Lederman, “DR-CAFTA: Challenges and Opportunities for Central America” (World  Bank, 2005);
  5. Saladin, “The Dominican Republic,” in Latin American Business, R. Crane and C. Rizowy, eds. (Pearson PrenticeHall, 2005);
  6. United States Agency for International Development, Estrategias 2002–2007: Fortalecimiento de la Democracia y la Buena Gobernabilidad, 2007, www.usaid.gov (cited March 2009).

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