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Cuba: Threat or opportunity for the DR?

Edwin Ruiz of Diario Libre writes that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba would take place in parallel to ongoing talks for a bilateral trade agreement between the European Union and Cuba, similar to the Economic Partnership Act that the DR has with the European Union that brings economic cooperation and free trade with the Dominican Republic.

Ruiz says that in post-embargo days Cuba will represent competition for the DR, but will also open up many new opportunities.

The DR cigar industry took off with the trade blockade on Cuba when many Cuban manufacturers relocated their operations to the Dominican Republic. The DR reaped US$600 million in cigar exports in 2013 and is now the world’s largest exporter of cigars.

In June 2014, Cuba approved a new Foreign Investment Laws that reduces the tax on earnings from 30% to 15%. Cuba already has a major resort area in Varadero and a major logistic center at Mariel Port as a preparation for further opening of their economy.

He says that trade is already US$126 million a year and the two governments should strengthen this. The new Cuban ambassador in the DR, Carlos Raul de la Nuez, stated on 20 November that bilateral trade negotiations are expected to start.

Ruiz writes that the DR could make the most of multi-destination tourism with Cuba. “Cuba with a booming economy, rather than representing a threat, is an opportunity for the Dominican Republic.”

On Wednesday, 16 December 2014, National Hotel & Tourism Association (ASONAHORES) executive vice president Arturo Villanueva stated: “We are not concerned about competing with Cuba for tourists.” He predicted that the opening of Cuba would bring more tourists to the Caribbean.

President Danilo Medina described the news as “excellent.”

Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia says that in contrast to what some may think, the opening will increase the flow of tourism to the Caribbean and to the DR especially because it offers the most diversified tourism product. “We have beach, the largest number of golf courses in the region (26), cultural and environmental tourism. But most importantly, we are the best hosts,” he said. He said the country needs to continue increasing promotion and working closely with the private sector.

The DR already competes successfully with Cuba for the European and Canadian tourist markets.

Santiago Chamber of Commerce president Juan Manuel Urena also believes that the reopening of full diplomatic relations and the end of the US embargo with Cuba is highly positive for the DR. He does not expect Cuba to pose a threat to tobacco sales, tourism or investments in general. On the contrary, he said the new market access is a plus. “This is an opportunity to expand our markets and it will result in, once and for all, our productive and services structures becoming more efficient,” he told the press.

The DR joined more than 118 countries in calling for an end to the US trade embargo on Cuba at the latest general assembly of the United Nations.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 21, 2018 at 12:31 AM
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