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Backgrounds: Dominican Republic US Relations
The U.S. has a strong interest in a democratic, stable, and economically healthy Dominican Republic. Its standing as the largest Caribbean economy, the second-largest in terms of population and land mass, and its proximity to the United States and other smaller Caribbean nations make the Dominican Republic an important partner in hemispheric affairs. This close relationship was underscored when President Mejia visited President Bush at the White House in early 2003.
U.S. relations with the Dominican Republic are excellent, and the U.S. has been an outspoken supporter of that country's democratic and economic development. In addition, the Dominican Government has been supportive of many U.S. initiatives in the United Nations and related agencies. The two governments cooperate in the fight against the traffic in illegal substances. The Dominican Republic has worked closely with U.S. law enforcement officials on issues such as the return of stolen cars to the U.S. and reducing illegal migration.
The U.S. also supports the current administration's efforts to open the economy to more trade, increase foreign private investment, privatize state-owned firms, and modernize the tax system. Bilateral trade is important to both countries, and U.S. firms--mostly apparel, footwear, and light electronics manufacturers--account for much of the foreign private investment in the Dominican Republic.
U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic in 1996 totaled $3.8 billion and constituted 65% of that country's imports. The Dominican Republic exported $3.7 million to the U.S. in 1996, equaling some 65% of its exports. NAFTA has not caused any profound changes in Dominican trade with the U.S. The U.S. embassy works closely with U.S. business firms and Dominican trade groups, both of which can take advantage of the new opportunities in this growing market. At the same time the embassy is working with the Dominican Government to resolve outstanding disputes U.S. firms have with the government as result of actions by previous administrations.
The embassy counsels U.S. firms through its written Country Commercial Guide and informally via meetings with business persons planning to or already investing in the Dominican Republic. It is a challenging business environment for U.S. firms, although agile exporters and investors can profit doing business in the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission is focused on four areas: availability of health care, increasing economic opportunity, improving participation in democratic processes, and environmentally sound energy production. About 90% of USAID resources are channeled through nongovernmental organizations for reasons of efficiency.
The embassy estimates that 60,000 U.S. citizens live in the Dominican Republic, although precise figures are unavailable; many are dual nationals. An important element of the relationship between the two countries is the more than 1 million Dominicans residing in the U.S. The majority of Dominicans live in metropolitan New York City.
The U.S. Embassy is located at Calle Cesar Nicolas Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro, Santo Domingo (tel. 809-221-2171).
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