Florida and the Dominican Republic Explore Economic Ties


Mercedes Martha Ponce

In March 2001, FIU hosted a task force of business leaders from Florid
a and the Dominican Republic to explore ways to promote economic cooperation and increased trade between the two regions. Presiding over the meeting were Dr. Eduardo A. Gamarra, director of FIU's Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) and IIPS, and former Dominican President Dr. Leonel Fernández, founder of Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), a development organization.

The Dominican Republic is Florida's second leading trading partner. As reported by Enterprise Florida's Marketing and Information Department, exports to the Dominican Republic via the Florida Customs District totaled close to $2.5 billion in 2000, a 10.7% increase from 1999. Given the Dominican Republic's solid growth rates and increasing economic diversification, the prospects for continued strong economic ties with Florida are promising.

Besides Fernández, the Dominican delegation included prominent business leaders Frederic Emam-Zade, Dr. Rafael Núñez-Cuesta, Carlos M. Bonett and Jaime Moreno. Representing Florida and its business community were Hugh V. Simon, undersecretary for international affairs at the Office of the Secretary of State; Luis Cuervo, of Enterprise Florida; Oscar Cohen, CEO, Yupi.com; and René Hernández, of Econocaribe Consolidators, Inc.

The meeting resulted in a draft working document which is currently in the process of being written and implemented. LACC/IIPS hopes to follow up with a series of high-level talks with economists, policy makers and business leaders to explore avenues for closer links between the Dominican Republic and Florida. A second meeting of the task force was scheduled for May 24.