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Market Overview of the Dominican Republic

With a population of 10.1 million consumers and a nominal GDP of $71.6 billion, the Dominican Republic (DR) is the tenth largest economy in Latin America and the largest in the Caribbean region. A middle-income country, with a GDP per capita of approximately $7,100, the economy is based on tourism, agriculture, Free Trade Zone manufacturing and service industries.

The U.S. share of the DR consumer goods market is estimated at approximately 70 percent. There is extremely high receptivity to U.S. goods and services and U.S. product standards are generally accepted. Bi-lateral trade between the United States and the DR amounted to US$ 12.47 billion in 2016, with U.S. exports to the DR totaling US$7.8 billion and imports from the DR of US$ 4.68 billion – a positive trade balance for the U.S. of US$ 3.1 billion.

Market Opportunities

U.S. products and services enjoy a strong reputation for quality and, due in part to CAFTA-DR, are highly competitive. Consumer attitudes and brand preferences are similar to those in the United States and many major U.S. franchises are present in the country. Television shows from the United States and other media are widely available and popular. Dominicans travel frequently to the United States for business, vacation, medical treatment, study, or to visit family.

As a signatory of the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement, the DR stands to benefit from the issuance of licenses to import U.S. shale gas in liquefied (LNG) or compressed form. Access to this energy continues to help diversify its energy matrix. The private sector in the DR is leading the transition to greater use of natural gas in power generation.

Market Entry Strategies

The DR has few market access issues. A common market entry option is to appoint an agent or distributor in the DR, with the assistance of local legal counsel to ensure that representation agreements can be terminated for non-performance and that the necessary protections are included. Licensing agreements and franchises can also be successful. Because of the DR’s proximity to the U.S. and low air travel costs, the optimal market entry method is through a coordinated strategy that includes personally visiting potential partners or distributors in the DR.

Forging relationships with well-connected, reputable, and established players is key to finding a good partner. U.S. exporters should also be prepared to provide all promotional materials in Spanish. Good after-sales service is a pre-requisite to successfully conduct business in the country.

Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment

  • Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment
  • Automobile Parts and Services
  • Building Products
  • Hotel and Restaurant Equipment
  • Medical Equipment
  • Printing and Graphic Art Equipment and Supplies
  • Renewable Energy
  • Safety and Security Equipment and Supplies
  • Telecommunication Equipment

In addition, the DR is a key buyer of U.S. agricultural products, with $1.2 billion in yearly agricultural imports.

Read the complete Country Commercial Guide for the Dominican Republic, an excellent starting point to find everything you need to know about doing business overseas.


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