Dominican Republic’s competitive advantages entice South Florida investors

Eddy Martinez, right, during a recent conference.
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Modern infrastructure, proximity to key markets, stability and close collaboration between public and private sectors make the D.R. a prime country for investment, especially during the current global recession

Miami – On Tuesday, at a standing-room only event at Miami's Sofitel Hotel, the Dominican Republic's Export and Investment Center (CEI), presented compelling statistics to potential investors from South Florida showing why the Dominican Republic is a good place to invest, particularly during the current global recession.

A panel led by Eddy Martinez, secretary of state and executive director of the Dominican Republic's Export and Investment Center; Tim Searcy, CEO of American Teleservices Association; Jose Luis del Rio, general manager for New Tech; and Jaime Vargas, executive vice-president of Rococo Investments Incorporate presented an overview of the commercial opportunities that the Dominican Republic offers Florida-based sectors in technological software development, medical devices, contact centers and BPO companies.

Pointing to the Dominican Republic (D.R.) as one of only six countries in the world with preferential access to the U.S. and Europe, the panel stressed that the D.R. is the seventh largest trading partner with the U.S. in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth for Florida.

Political and economic stability, modern infrastructure, important natural resources and proximity to vast consumer markets attracted US$11,272.8 million in Direct Foreign Investment in 2008, and the country's GDP has shown consistent year over year growth for the past five years.

According to the U.N. Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report released last week, foreign direct investment in the Dominican Republic rose by 83 percent in 2008.

According to Tim Searcy, an added factor that makes investing in the D.R. such a good idea is the unique, close collaboration between the government, education sector and the private sector.

To further increase its competitive edge, the country has implemented large-scale reforms that create an ideal investment climate and streamlined legal processes. Foreign businesses operating within D.R. borders face fewer obstacles than ever before, gain access to a host of special incentives, and receive hands-on assistance from the government every step of the way.

Martinez emphasized that the recent worldwide economic crisis has made the Dominican Republic aware of its assets, its services and people, and made it realize how critical stability and growth are during these times. Nevertheless, he assured the audience that, the Dominican Republic will continue to grow during 2009-2010 at a GDP growth rate of 2.5 – 3.5 percent, adding “the D.R is your bridge to prosperity.”

Perceived as a tropical paradise, a land of sand and beaches, the fact that the Dominican Republic is a hotbed of investment for contact centers, software development and other high-tech industries, is one of the western hemispheres greatest kept secrets. The country also hosts a highly developed free trade zone system, efficient shipping networks, and the strongest telecommunications sector in Latin America.

“The call center sector in the Dominican Republic is growing and has proven to be the most dynamic despite the global crisis,” confirmed Martinez. Today, more than 65 call centers exist in the Caribbean nation and offer approximately 22,000 direct jobs, making this the fastest growing sector in the nation.

Alex Abraham, one of several attendees already working to invest in the Dominican Republic stated, “The Dominican Republic is the ideal place for companies looking for growth and more opportunities.” On the other hand, Ramon Rojas, chairman vice-president of Provitel, who already has five companies operating in the country said, “Working and investing in the Dominican Republic is worth doing over and over again.”

Searcy began working with the Dominican Republic more than five years ago. According to Searcy, “companies don't buy what they want or what they need, they buy what they can defend, and in my opinion buying into the Dominican Republic is the most defensible buy a company could ever make.”

One of the clearest messages conveyed during the event was the value of the Dominican people. Thanks to the government's vision to promote education, Dominican's are extremely bright people who possess talent, creativity and training. According to Martinez, “Dominican's are trilingual – they speak Spanish, English and Business language.”

Ajay Koppu, Director ERP Practice for the Miami office of Kaava, an India-based software development and solutions implementations company they are “definitely interested in looking at the Dominican Republic and learning more about how to do business there. The DR seems very approachable because of its proximity, bilingual capabilities and its friendly people.”

As Searcy said, “When people ask me about my business experiences in the Dominican Republic, I am fortunate I don't have to talk about labor or the cost of labor. Instead, I am able to talk about the ability for my companies to solve business problems due to cooperation, something you do not get easily anywhere else. The DR is the jewel of the Caribbean and Latin America. It's the ideal partner for a foreign investor.”