Thriving state takes a step forward
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN VIEWED AS AN EXPORTER OF SUGAR, COFFEE, AND TOBACCO, BUT IN RECENT YEARS THE SERVICE SECTOR HAS OVERTAKEN AGRICULTURE AS THE ECONOMY'S LARGEST MONEY EARNER, DUE TO GROWTH IN TOURISM AND FREE ZONES. THE MEJIA ADMINISTRATION HAS SUCCESSFULLY INTRODUCED A SERIES OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL MEASURES DESIGNED TO SUSTAIN THE COUNTRY'S PERFORMANCE AND ATTRACT FURTHER INVESTMENT

STEADY RHYTHM
The Dominican economy has grown by a yearly average of 7.7% over the past five years.

Despite the global economic cooling, the Dominican Republic is one of the few nations of the world that has been able to buck the downward trend. Its resilience to external shocks has been a key attraction for investors who see the Caribbean nation as a safe regional bet while most of Latin America has felt the pinch of a sluggish U.S. economy, various oil price hikes, hurricanes, and the economic crises in Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Asia. In fact, during the past five years of external shocks and international belt-tightening, the Dominican economy grew by a yearly average of 7.7%, while inflation remained below double digits, external debt declined and foreign reserves increased.
Many of the country’s strong economic results over the past five years can be traced to the steady growth of tourism, remittances and maquilas. Also, heavy direct foreign investment and the adeptness of President Hipolito Mejia administration at handling budget spending account for the country’s resistance to external factors that have reeked havoc throughout the Americas.

MILAGROS ORTIZ BOSCH
MILAGROS ORTIZ BOSCH
Vice President and Secretary of State for Education

Mr. Mejia’s government has pushed through a long list of economic, social and institutional reforms that lie at the heart of the country’s dazzling economic performance, and the president has shown an unfaltering commitment to education as a basis for sustainable growth, a pledge that helped usher him into the presidency nearly two years ago.
“One of the most important decisions the president made to bring about change in the country was his commitment to education as a means to break the chain of poverty,” notes Vice President and Secretary of State for Education Milagros Ortiz Bosch. “Under this administration we have achieved a 90% rate of coverage in basic education.”

Technical Secretary of the Presidency Rafael Calderon Martinez, whose job is to define the government’s economic and social policies or, as he puts it, “not much power, but a lot of work”, agrees with the vice president’s assessment of the Mejia administration. “This government has been able to deftly handle its five established priorities with education leading the way. And then, not necessarily in order of importance, it has made advances in public health, social security and housing, another important priority because when people have access to a decent home their quality of life is greatly improved,” Mr. Calderon explains. “We have also improved the environment and have made better use of our natural resources. Our last priority has to do with infrastructure improvements in all areas that deal with national production: agriculture, industry and tourism.”

In Bahia de Manzanillo a $1.4 billion infrastructure project has been given the go-ahead

Foreign investment has continued to flow into the country at a remarkable rate, with $1.4 billion forecasted for 2002 according to the Office of Foreign Investment. Mr. Calderon says the Dominican Republic’s geographical location is a key reason, as it is the Latin American country closest to Europe and only a short hop to the world’s largest market, the United States.
“Our location provides great potential from a business and trading point of view, especially in areas such as the northern Bahia de Manzanillo,” Mr. Calderon says. In that particular bay area a group of French, U.S., and United Arab Emirates investors are involved in several projects, which include a mega port, an international airport, a free zone, 1,000 hotel rooms, housing, electric power generating facilities, roads and other infrastructure projects with an initial investment of $1.4 billion.
“We also have areas in the south that serve as gateways to countries such as Venezuela and we are continually consolidating our position as an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean and Central American regions.”

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