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On 3 April, Dolfin welcomed some 50 guests to our Mayfair HQ for the launch of LatAm INVESTOR’s report into investment opportunities in the Dominican Republic. The report highlights the economic transformation currently under way in the country, where a diverse economy is attracting investment across a wide range of areas. Specifically, it focuses on the Dominican Republic’s commitment to tackling climate change, which is perceived as the top threat to the wider region.
The evening began with a welcome in fluent Spanish from Dolfin’s Head of Wealth Management, Nick McCall. Fortunately for those delegates not conversant with the language, Nick then switched back to English for the remainder of his address, in which he outlined the agenda for the evening and introduced the keynote speaker, the Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Hugo Guiliani Cury.
“I was a businessperson originally, but life led me to become a diplomat, which is much easier,” the Ambassador told the audience. “And talking about the Dominican Republic is very easy! But in meetings like this, faced with a room full of intelligent people, I know you are all asking yourselves: ‘What are we going to learn here?’”
More than just beaches
The Ambassador went on to showcase some of the natural beauties of the island that the Dominican Republic shares with its western neighbour, Haiti. Unlike some other Caribbean islands, he explained, the Dominican Republic benefits from not only beaches, but mountains, rivers and rain forests, which help to attract some seven million visitors a year. While tourism is regarded as an attractive sector for investment, the Ambassador highlighted some of the other factors that draw international firms to the country.
“The Dominican Republic offers stability, having achieved 7 per cent growth over the past six year.” – His Excellency Hugo Guiliani Cury, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United Kingdom
“The nation is politically stable, being the third-longest standing democracy in the region, behind Costa Rica and Colombia,” he said. “It has held regular democratic elections since 1966. Economically, it offers stability too, having achieved 7 per cent growth over the past six years. It is a regional hub, with legal, air and maritime infrastructure, and has free trade agreement in place with the US and EU.”
The audience was introduced to some of the country’s key exports, which include medical equipment, clothing, electronics, cigars and jewellery, alongside minerals, coffee, cocoa beans and bananas. In addition to tourism, DR’s diversified economy spans manufacturing, agriculture and mining, whereas key growth industries include energy, infrastructure and film-making.
The evening then moved on to a discussion chaired by LatAm INVESTOR’s Managing Editor, James McKeigue, with the panel comprising Nick and the Ambassador alongside Alfredo Mordezki, Head of Latam Fixed Income at Santander Asset Management, and José Buera, Chairman of DomCham.
James opened the discussion by touching on the history of the Dominican Republic, which – being the first land mass discovered by Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the New World – is home to the first university, hospital and paved road in the Americas. He then asked the panel to draw some comparisons between the country and its Latin American neighbours.
“Thanks to its strategic position for shipping, China has now entered the Dominican Republic market too.” – José Buera, DomCham
“It has been the fastest-growing Latin American country for the past 60 years,” José told delegates. “Its free trade-oriented environment has created a dynamic economy, and tourism, coupled with its diaspora, means it enjoys strong ties to the US. Thanks to its strategic position for shipping, in close proximity to the Panama Canal, China has now entered the market there too.”
Alfredo noted: “Growth in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina has been disappointing in recent years, but the Dominican Republic has pierced the ceiling. This is largely thanks to its political stability – even the threat of a swing hampers growth. It’s not just about who wins, but how they govern.”
The panel were then asked to highlight some of the factors that are likely to attract investors to the country in the coming years.
“We are bullish on emerging markets generally and the Dominican Republic is significant in the region.” – Nick McCall, Dolfin
“The key word here is diversification,” Nick said. “We are bullish on emerging markets generally and the Dominican Republic is significant in the region. And, of course, the Brexit situation means that the UK is keen to forge relationships with countries they have previously neglected.”
In terms of investment instruments, José highlighted the potential of securities and government bonds, while Alfredo pointed to the strong performance of some special purpose vehicles in the country.
The evening concluded with friendly conversations over canapés, facilitated by rum tasting, while some guests retired to the balcony to enjoy a special gift from the Embassy – real Dominican cigars.