By H.E. Mr. Juan Bautista Durán, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
On August 16, 2021, the first year of the government led by President Luis Abinader was an important moment. One of the distinctive elements of this administration has been the new approach of its foreign policy vision via the rest of the world.
As an Island Developing State, defender of multilateralism and a developing economy, the Dominican Republic has established 3 foreign policies objectives: 1) Protection of Dominicans abroad; (2) Increased exports and increased foreign direct investment to generate jobs; and (3) Promotion of the values of democracy and human rights.
Referencing to the first objective of the new Dominican foreign policy, our country is deeply convinced that one of the main responsibilities of any State is precisely the protection and effective assistance of its nationals abroad. Accordingly, it should be noted that, in accordance with article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961, one of the main functions of a diplomatic mission is:“Protecting in the receiving State, the interests of the sending State and those of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law”.
Taking into account these facts, President Luis Abinader, in his capacity as head of foreign policy, has placed special emphasis on the importance of protecting nationals residing abroad, by strengthening assistance and monitoring the diaspora, through our embassies, consulates and the Institute of Dominicans abroad (INDEX); an entity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose function is to raise the quality of life of the Dominican community abroad. This is through the realization of studies and socio-economic and demographic research programs, aimed at supporting the capacity, trainings and developments of Dominicans abroad.
In fact, it is necessary to highlight the significant contribution of the diaspora to the Dominican economy during the pandemic. According to the estimates of the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, in the month of August 2021, the remittances received reached a figure of US$872.0 million, surpassing by US$102.2 million those registered in August 2020. The institution points out that, when contrasted with August 2019, the year before the pandemic, remittances in August 2021 showed a growth of 38.8%, about US$243.6 million more.
In the same vein, and within the framework of his official visit to New York City to participate in the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Dominican president led an event dedicated to the diaspora, where he thanked them for their economic contribution through remittances, and recognized that it is the country brand of the Dominican Republic.
The head of state said that: “The diaspora is a fundamental part of the social composition of the Dominican Republic … because despite the distance, you have never lost your link with the homeland that saw the birth of many of you or your parents.”
On the other hand, the increase in exports and the increase in foreign direct investment to generate jobs constitute the second axis of the new Dominican foreign policy. The Dominican Republic has taken a turn towards commercial diplomacy, in order to turn its diplomatic and consular officials into true agents of promotion of trades, businesses and investments.
According to the “Preliminary Report of the Dominican Economy period January-August 2021”, prepared by the Central Bank, total exports of goods reached US$8,127.9 million, which when compared with the same period of 2019 (pre-pandemic), increased by 10.1% during the current year. These numbers are a reflection of the increasingly successful insertion of Dominican products in international markets.
Regarding the foreign direct investment, the Dominican Republic was listed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), as the first destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), as of July 2021.
According to ECLAC estimates, the country has captured an investment volume of 1,127,000 million dollars. The proposals come from the United States, Spain, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Canada, Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and El Salvador. The sectors with the highest concentration of investment are tourism, telecommunications, energy, agribusiness, construction and entertainment, respectively.
The exponential growth of foreign direct investment is the result of a series of institutional reforms implemented by the government, such as the Law of Regulatory Improvement and Simplification of Procedures, better known as “zero bureaucracy”, which seeks to facilitate administrative processes for the construction of a modern, efficient State at the service of the citizen; the promulgation of a new Law of Customs, with the purpose of harmonizing the Dominican customs system with the highest international standards; the project to turn the Dominican Republic into a regional logistics hub; the initiative to reform the national police; and last but not least, the frontal fight against corruption and impunity, as an element of guarantee for the legal security of investments.
In another order, the promotion of the values of democracy and human rights are enshrined as the third axis of Dominican foreign policy. The country has increased its participation in the various regional and multilateral organizations, in order to conclude strategic alliances with those states with which we share the values of democracy, freedom, respect for democratic institutions and the most fundamental rights of the individual, as is the case of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
It should be noted that links with the Kingdom of the Netherlands are developed on the basis of specific objectives, with a view to range of possibilities offered by bilateral relations with this important partner for the Dominican Republic. Given its potential and expertise in world trade, in port and maritime transport, the fight against climate change, sustainable development and environmental protection.
The government’s commitment to eliminate corruption and achieve post-pandemic economic recovery are factors that stimulate investor confidence, which will translate into greater economic development for the country.
The management of work carried out by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic to the Kingdom of the Netherlands embodies the vision of the government of President Luis Abinader and Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez. The idea of maximizing trade and investment opportunities, through its diplomatic and consular service. In addition to this, the work plan of the embassy contemplates increasing the visibility of Dominicans who take pride in our flag, within the framework of activities that highlight our culture, history, gastronomy, art, sports; but the most important of all and highlight the most valuable asset we have … Our people!