Dominican Republic Industry
In the Dominican Republic, lighter industrial goods for the domestic market are produced such as food, clothing and shoes, leather goods and cement, which makes an important contribution to the economy. Clothes and shoes, but also electronics, jewelery, pharmaceuticals, food and cigars are also manufactured for export in special free zones.
The free zones have grown since the 1980s. The companies that establish themselves there are offered tax exemptions for up to 20 years, duty-free import of raw materials and cheap labor. They are important employers but less central to the country’s income as a large part of the profits go to the foreign owners. In the free zones, imported components are assembled into goods that are exported to the United States in particular. The workers are largely young women. Hourly wages are low, although some improvements have been made, and trade union rights are not always respected (see Labor Market).
Increased competition from Central America and Asia led to a decline in the free zones after the turn of the millennium. Thereafter, a recovery was made to reduce again slightly in the middle of the 10th, despite new start-ups and new investments. At the same time, some of the tax benefits have been cut. In 2016, there were around 500 companies in nearly 60 free zones with a total of well over 100,000 employees.
The major disruptions in electricity supply are a problem for industry (see Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment).
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Dominican Republic. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
Sentenced criminals flee the country
Two French pilots sentenced to 20 years in prison for drug smuggling flee the country by boat. They were sentenced, along with two other Frenchmen, in August but were not held in custody when the verdict was appealed. All four were arrested in March 2013 when they were leaving the country with 26 suitcases containing close to 700 kilos of cocaine. The pilots claim they are innocent.
Cooperation across party borders
Prior to the 2016 election, the PLD and the PRD enter into a cooperation agreement, which means that the PRD will have a seat in the government. For the PRD, it can be stated that the party has not succeeded in its attempts to make common cause with other opposition parties against the PLD, and has now decided on a different strategy. For the PLD, the agreement is more surprising, since Medina is leading the opinion polls ahead of the election and the party has no obvious reason to cooperate with the arch rival. Medina explains the decision that the country’s long-term problems can be solved thanks to increased stability.
OAS wants to investigate the migrant wave
The cooperative organization OAS announces its intention to send an investigation group to Santo Domingo on the occasion of the Haitian migrant wave.
Haiti’s Prime Minister warns of humanitarian crisis
Since around 12,000 people have crossed the border into Haiti in one week, Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul warns of a looming humanitarian crisis. The UN Refugee Commission (UNHCR), which estimates that more than 200,000 people in the Dominican Republic are stateless, also warns of catastrophic consequences if the Dominican Republic does not reverse the deportations. The International Migration Organization (IOM) also expresses its concerns and points out that poor Haiti has no opportunity to receive thousands of refugees.
Uncertainty for residents without a residence permit
The deadline expires for residents who do not have a residence permit – and who have had one year to register (see June 2014). The head of the country’s migration authority says the expulsions will now resume. According to the authorities, 250,000 have applied for a residence permit, but only 10,000 have been considered able to present acceptable identity documents and proof that they have been living in the country long enough – and so far only 300 have been granted permanent residence permits. According to the Ministry of the Interior’s estimates, about 500,000 could have applied.
The Vatican’s envoy is brought to justice
The Vatican’s former envoy, Jozef Wesolowski, will face trial for child pornography and abuse from 2008-2013 when he was in the Dominican Republic (see September 2013). He is under house arrest in the Vatican.
Direct election of president is reintroduced
After a long power struggle within the PLD government party, the party decides to support a proposal for a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the ban on re-election directly for a sitting president. President Danilo Medina has succeeded in getting his predecessor Leonel Fernández to support the proposal in exchange for a number of concessions. The support for Medina in the electoral race is also very strong, and the party’s chances are therefore best if he can stand for re-election in the 2016 election. The ban on re-election was introduced in 2010, when Fernández was president. In June, the proposal is adopted by Congress.
PRM appoints presidential candidate
The Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM, see September 2014) appoints an economist and businessman Luis Abinader as its presidential candidate for a 2016 party election. Mejía promises to support Abinader’s candidacy.
The new party PRM is formed by defectors from PRD
The left-wing PRD is formally split into two parts after a long period of internal strife (see January 2013). The PRD loyal to former President Hipólito Mejía is registering a new party: the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM).
The paperless can apply for a residence permit
Following a congressional decision in May, a year-long period begins when the undocumented will be able to obtain a residence permit if they can show that they have been in the country before 2011. Most of the people concerned are of Haitian origin. The decision comes after international criticism against the fact that people born in the country by non-citizens could not become citizens, which in practice made many stateless. Criticism has also been raised against the treatment of people originating in Haiti (see September 2013).