The following are details of an interview with Ambassador Grecia Fiordalicia Pichardo Polanco of the Dominican Republic in Seoul conducted by The Korea Post for publication on the occasion of the Independence Day of the Republic on Feb. 27, 2015.?Ed.
Question: How is the investment climate in the Republic of Dominican Republic?
Answer: The Dominican Republic, located on the island of “La Hispaniola”, is part of a group of islands that compose the Caribbean’s Major Antilles, with a population of about 9.9 million people, a labor force of 4.4 million, GDP of USD$60.61 billion, and a GPD per capita of USD$5,789.00. It is located in the heart of the Caribbean, between Cuba and Puerto Rico; bathed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south.
The Dominican Republic, in spite of the difficulties derived from the world financial crisis, has been able to sustain a steady economic growth, and some of the main engines, like tourism and agriculture, have been able to keep up its positive rhythm. Last year, our economy grew an estimated 7.1%, much higher than the average economic growth of 1.1% from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Q: What is the geographical advantage of the Dominican Republic in terms of international trade and economic cooperation?
A: The Dominican Republic has geographical and infrastructural advantages that place us ahead of regional competitors, and our country has become an important commercial point between Europe, North, Central and South America, located just three and a half hours away from N.Y. and two hours from Florida. Free Trade Agreements with the US and the Central American countries (DR-CAFTA), and preferential trade agreements with the European Union and CARICOM, permit our country to have direct access to more than 876 million consumers around the world. We are also a full fledge member of the System for the Integration of Central America (SICA), and occupied SICA’s Pro-Tempore presidency last year.
Moreover, its sixteen (16) international marine ports, eight (8) international airports, six (6) domestic airports, well maintained roadways, amongst other aspects of its solid infrastructure makes the country a potential trade hub for the region.
Additionally, the multimodal Port of Caused, which possesses 992 meters of quayside and a depth of 13.5 meters, and the Hainan Oriental Port, with 1,690 meters and a berth minimum stall of 10 meters, are the country’s expansion catalyst for commerce and exports.
Q: We understand that the Dominican Republic has a remarkable socio-political stability in the region.
A: The Dominican Republic is one of the most socio-politically stable countries in the region, making it an extremely attractive destination for foreign investment and tourism. The key for our sustained economic growth lies in the prudent economic policy implemented by our current administration, under the leadership of President Daniil Medina and his predecessor, Dr. Leonel Fernandez, a fact that has been widely acknowledged and commended by international monetary authorities.
Investors have taken advantage of our political stability, steady economic climate, well trained human resources and business incentives; evident in the fact that between the years 2008 and 2012, overall foreign direct investment in the Dominican Republic has grown from USD$2.87 billion to USD$3.50 billion, while trade between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Korea grew from USD$94.38 million to USD$164.38 million during that same period.
In that sense, potential markets for expansion of trade of Dominican products to Korean markets not only include medical devices, textiles, and iron bars, but also agriculture and agro-industrial goods, such as products derived from organic cacao (the Dominican Republic dominates 60% of the global market share of organic cacao), coffee, pineapples, bananas, sugar cane, fresh vegetables, beer, rum, and world-famous cigars.
Q: Do you have any international trade shows or fairs?
A: In fact, “Agroalimentaria 2015”, an International Trade Show aimed at exhibiting the very best of our national agricultural production, agro-industrial goods, beverages, and tobacco, with the purpose of linking buyers and sellers, is being organized by the Center for Export and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) and the Dominican Republic Agribusiness Board (JAD), and will hold its 5th Edition from May 7th ? 9th , 2015 at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel Convention Center in our capital city of Santo Domingo.
This event will provide Korean buyers with the opportunity to see the rich variety and quality of the agricultural products that the Dominican Republic has to offer and meet with local producers’ first-hand. We strongly encourage Korean buyers to participate. (http://agroalimentaria.com.do/).
Q: What are the tourist assets of the Dominical Republic attractive to Korean visitors?
A: Tourism is also an area of expansion between both countries, especially considering that citizens of either country can travel to each country visa-free for up to 90 days.
The Dominican Republic receives over 5 million tourists each year, a number that is growing at a steady pace, so tourism is one of the major contributors to our economy. Our National Brand, “The Dominican Republic hast it All”, is derived from the fact that we have unmatched and diversified natural beauty and touristic offerings, from pristine beaches to mountain ranges, caves to waterfalls, ecotourism to luxury tourism, designer golf courses to horseback riding excursions, and as the first colony in the Americas, our history and culture is one of the richest in the region.
Our tourism infrastructure counts on the aforementioned international airports, located at main tourist destinations, superior and friendly service, and over 65,000 rooms at resorts, the highest concentration of which are found in Punta Cana, la Romana, Saman?, and Puerto Plata.
We invite Koreans to explore all that we have to offer as a country, and discover the delights of the Dominican Republic for themselves.
About the Ambassador:
Since joining the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX) in 1982, Ambassador Grecia Fiordalicia Pichardo has served in various positions, including as Minister Counselor, in charge of the Economics Affairs Bureau of MIREX, Consul General in Montr?al, Canada, Consul General in Havana, Cuba, where she had the responsibility of establishing the Dominican Consulate during the process of reinstatement of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, which were suspended since 1959, and as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Panama, before assuming her position as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Korea in September 2011.
Her Architect husband, Mr. Victor Decamps, can often be seen at Namdaemun Market visiting and learning from the local vendors, at home crafting jewelry made from Dominican Amber and Larimar, or studying the Korean models for economic growth and development, and serves as great company and support to the Ambassador in her personal and professional endeavors.
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