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Dominican Republic marks 171st anniversary of independenceMakes 7.2% GDP growth, looms as Korea’s attractive economic, trade partner

Ambassador Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic in Seoul hosted a dinner reception at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Feb. 27, 2015 to celebrate the 171st anniversary of Independence of her country and the 50th anniversary of the Dominican Revolution.
There came many distinguished guests from all walks of life from Korean society and the international community as well as from the Diplomatic Corps and the community of the residents of the Dominican Republic in Korea.
Among the Korean dignitaries attending the reception were Director General Bahk Sahng-Hoon of the Latin American & Caribbean Affairs Bureau (LACAB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Korean Honorary Consul General Jun Byung-hyun of the Dominican Republic (chairman of the Korean-Central American & Caribbean Economic Council), Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Chairman Hong Jin-gi of Gyeonggi Province Association for Social Economy and traditional Korean rice cake experts Ms. Yoo Hyun-mi and Ms. Chang Woo-yen.

▲From left: Ambassadors Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla of Holy See, Calin Fabian of Romania, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, (one guest hidden), Mohammed Chraibi of Morocco, Duishonkul Chotonov of Kyrgyzstan, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Krzysztof Majka of Poland, Mohammed Bin Abdalla Obaid Al-Dohaimi of Qatar, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic, Aingeal O’onoghue of Ireland, DG Bahk Sahng-Hoon of MOFA Latin American & Caribbean Affairs Bureau, (one guest hidden), Mumba S. Kapumpa of Zambia, Otman S. Saad Ahbara of Libya, Zoran Kazazovic of Serbia, Elizabeth Nicol of Ghana, Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria, Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka, Torbjorn Holthe of Norway, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Natallia Jhylevich of Belarus, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of Bolivia.

Among the foreign dignitaries in attendance were many mission chiefs including Ambassadors Albino Malungo of Angola, Jorge Roballo of Argentina, Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria, Elizabeth Nicol of Ghana, Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Natallia Jhylevich of Belarus, Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of Bolivia, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Hernan Brantes Glavic of Chile, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Elizabeth Nicol of Ghana, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla of Holy See (new dean of the Diplomatic Corps of Korea), Khalil Ismai Abdul Sahib Al-Mosawi of Iraq, Aingeal O’onoghue of Ireland, Bessho Koro of Japan, Omar Al Nahar of Jordan, Mohamed Abdi Gello of Kenya (CDA), Duishonkul Chotonov of Kyrgyzstan, Otman S. Saad Ahbara of Libya, Mohammed Chraibi of Morocco, Torbjorn Holthe of Norway, Zahid Nasrulah Khan of Pakistan, Bill Veri of Papua New Guinea, Krzysztof Majka of Poland, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Mohammed Bin Abdalla Obaid Al-Dohaimi of Qatar, Calin Fabian of Romania, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Zoran Kazazovic of Serbia, Gonzalo Ortiz Diaz-Tortosa of Spain, Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan, Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia, Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine, Dr. Alba Florio Legnani of Uruguay and Bakhtier N. Ibragimov of Uzbekistan (CDA).
Following the presentation of the national anthems of the two countries, Ambassador Pichardo said in her welcome speech to the guests that on Feb. 27, 1844, the Dominican Republic proclaimed her Independence after a group of patriots, inspired by the ideals of Juan Pablo Duarte, gave birth to her nation.

▲Ambassador Pichardo of the Dominican Republic

Then she referred to the increasing ties of relations between Korea and the Dominican Republic.
“The Dominican Republic and the Republic of Korea,” she said, “have continually expanded cooperation in various areas, including Knowledge Sharing Programs, E-Government and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ITC).” She said that “in that regard, our country has reached an ITC Development Index of 48.02 of 100, above the United Nation’s median index of 45 of 100.” (See excerpts from her speech at the end of this article.)
Ambassador Pichardo’s speech was followed by a congratulatory speech by Director General Bahk Sahng-Hoon of LACAB MOFA, who cited fast-growing ties of close cooperation between Korea and the Dominican Republic.
After Bahk’s speech came an offer of toast in celebration of the auspicious occasion between the two countries by Honorary Consul General Jun who wished the two countries everlasting relations of cooperation and co-prosperity.

▲DG Bahk of MOFA

There were many ladies in attendance at the party who included Mrs. Amal Lahlou (wife of the Moroccan ambassador) and Mrs. Zofia Majka (wife of the Polish ambassador).
Incidentally, Mrs. Lahlou has become the doyenne of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Club in Korea succeeding Mrs. Datin Siti Aishah Abdullah, wife of Ambassador Dato Haji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam, who has successfully completed his tour of duty in Korea.
In a brief interview with Publisher-Chairman Lee of The Korea Post, Mrs. Lahlou said that she will do her best for the spouses of the ambassadors as new doyenne of the club of the spouses of the ambassadors and asked for support and assistance by The Korea Post Media. Chairman Lee more than gladly assured her full support by The Korea Post.
Ambassador Pichardo and her husband, Mr. Victor Decamps, danced together and they danced so well that they instantly attracted shutterbugs and were joined by many guests and soon they danced even on the stage.
Mr. Decamps enthusiastically took photo of the guests and the party atmosphere with his camera in a professional manner. In fact, he not only takes good picture but also is talented in art and handicraft and even makes jewelry by himself.

▲Honorary Consul General Jun.

Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Pichardo:
I would like to begin this celebration by expressing my sincere appreciation to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules and joining us on the 171st Anniversary of our National Independence.
On February 27th, 1844, the Dominican Republic proclaimed its Independence. A group of patriots inspired by the ideals of Juan Pablo Duarte, gave birth to our nation, who’s unique identity and characterizes we hold dear; an identity which we call “Dominicanidad”.
This anniversary of our National Independence also coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution of April of 1965, another milestone in the history of the defense of our sovereignty and democracy.
The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean and occupied two thirds of the island of Hispaniola.
The Dominican Republic enjoys social and political stability. Last year, our GDP grew 7.2%, the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, which grew an about 1%. The key for our sustained economic growth lies in the prudent economic policy implemented by our current administration, under the leadership of President Danilo Medina, a fact that has been widely acknowledged and commended by international monetary authorities.
The Dominican Republic is an important commercial point between the markets of North, Central and South America. Our geographical advantages coupled with our modern and efficient and infrastructure, has allowed us to become the main receiver of direct foreign investment in the Caribbean region. Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the United States of America and Central American countries (DR-CAFTA), and with preferential trade agreements with the European Union and CARICOM, allowing direct access to more than 876 million consumers worldwide.

▲New doyenne of the Corps of the Ambassadors’ Spouses: Mrs. Amal Lahlou (wife of the Moroccan ambassador), second from left, has recently become the new doyenne of the Corps of the Ambassadors’ Spouses following the fulfillment of the tour of duty by the ambassador of Brunei Darussalam. Photo shows, from right, Ambassador Mohammed Chraibi of Morocco, Mrs. Lee Sun-Jin (wife of the chairman of the Youngone Corporation), Mrs. Kim Sun-hyang (wife of the president of Kyungnam University), Mrs. Amal Lahlou, and Mrs. Kim Yoon-hee, a leader of the Korean National Red Cross. This is a file photo taken at the National Day reception of Poland.

Tourism is the principal contributing factor to our economy, and it’s worth noting that the Dominican Republic has received over 5 million tourists each year, a number which continues to increase. Tourism constitutes an area of expansion between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Korea, seeing as our country is an exotic destination for Korean couples planning their honeymoon.
The Dominican Government and Dominican entrepreneurs are conscious of the importance of the Korean market, and in that sense, we tirelessly work to reach the objective of placing some of the many Dominican products in this market. However, we also need the assistance from the authorities of the Republic of Korea to facilitate and expedite the required processes so that we may reach these goals.
Last year, we held both “2014 Dominican Republic Investment Opportunity Forum” and “Business Opportunities in Free Zones of the Dominican Republic”, the first Dominican trade & investment forum in Korea where we outlined the numerous business opportunities the Dominican Republic’s Free Trade Zones (CNZFE). Additionally, in conjunction with the Korean Council on Latin America and the Caribbean (KCLAC), an important investment seminar was held in our capital city Santo Domingo, with the goal of promoting commercial exchanges between entrepreneurs of both countries.
In that same regard, at the beginning of this year, a multi-sector Korean delegation, headed by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, made an official visit to the Dominican Republic with the purpose of strengthening our economic ties and discuss the potential strategies and exchanges in various areas of commercial cooperation.
Korean investors have taken notice of the political stability, steady economic climate, well trained human recourses and business incentives that exist in the Dominican Republic, increasingly allocating their investment capital and establishing their enterprises in our country.
In that regard, it’s our pleasure to inform that “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.
The Dominican Republic and the Republic of Korea have continually expanded cooperation in various areas, including Knowledge Sharing Programs, E-Government and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ITC). In that regard, our country has reached an ITC Development Index of 48.02 of 100, above the United Nation’s median index of 45 of 100. We are very happy and satisfied to affirm that the Dominican Republic has progressively emulated and learned from the experiences and best practices of the Republic of Korea throughout our own development process.

▲Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post (left) poses with traditional Korean rice cake expert, Mrs. Ryoo Hyun-mi.

Throughout 2014, the Republic of Korea received official visits by Dominican representatives from both the private sector and public sectors, including high level officials from our Ministries of Justice ? Environment- Agriculture ? Industry and Commerce - Economy, Planning, and Development, strengthening bilateral exchanges.
We’re working hand-in-hand with the Republic of Korea, promoting peace and democracy throughout the world, sharing spaces for consultation and negotiation by way of the Forum for Latin America and East Asia (FEALAC), the Central American Integration System (SICA), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as an extra-regional associate. With each day that passes, our friendly relations are fortified and are manifested through mutual support for positions in the numerous international organisms in which we are members.
The relations between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Korea aren’t solely limited to commerce and investment, they also include cultural exchanges that have continues to establish and maintain the long lasting friendship between our two people. This is why we make diligent efforts to use the opportunities given to us as catalysts to promote and present the manifestations of Dominican art and culture in Korea.
I would like to conclude my brief intervention by recognizing and expressing my deepest appreciation to the Korean government for all of the help, collaboration, and support it has offered our country, especially for including so many Dominicans in their graduate and postgraduate scholarship programs, contributing to the betterment bilateral relations. I would also like to thank the Willbes and Mr. Jun Byung-Hyun, Honorary Consul General of the Dominican Republic, for the support and collaboration offered to us to celebrate this important event for the Dominican people.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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