SANTO DOMINGO.- The economist Federico Cuello Camilo, Dominican Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, noted in a recent interview that just as Europe is the main source of foreign direct investment to the Dominican Republic, important companies from the Dominican private sector have galvanized their ties with British business enterprises. By virtue of these good relationships, Dominican Republic has been able to make significant investments in the UK. In his interview with Dr. Julio Hazim of Revista 110, Ambassador Cuello highlighted the following:
· Central Romana’s acquisition of Tate & Lyle, a multinational agribusiness company that single-handedly commands the British sugarcane market and also procures a significant share of European sugar imports from ACP countries
· The strategic partnership of Brugal with the Erdington Group, a Scottish beverage and spirits company. Such partnership positions Dominican rum as an integral part of powerful global channels of commercial distribution
· The construction of Indomina, the new Pinewood Film Studio located in the outskirts of Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic. This megaproject is fruit of the Vicini Group-Pinewood Studios partnership and will be the locale where word-class film directors and producers will seize the opportunity to film throughout the year without having to forcefully cease operations in the face of the imminent British winter hiatus. Pinewood is the producer of James Bond and Pirates of The Caribbean amongst many other blockbuster movies
Ambassador Cuello also mentioned that the British market captures 60% of Dominican exports to Europe. The flagship export goods to the UK are bananas, cocoa, and Chinese vegetables. Even though Central American exporters have lower production costs, Dominican Republic has created for itself profitable market niches in fair trade bananas (a market dominated by the Dominican Republic almost in its entirety), organic bananas, and the aromatic fine cocoa, which has been incorporated into the best known European chocolates in international contests.
“During the presidential campaign as well as in the speech he delivered in the oath of office ceremony, President Danilo Medina made a clear call to the diplomatic corps to make the promotion of trade and investment a number one priority. And that is precisely the way we run Dominican Diplomacy in London, supported by the Interparty Parliamentary Group, established during Ambassador Anibal de Castro’s tenure, and now further empowered by our country’s membership in the Fresh Produce Consortium, whose annual dinner will be dedicated to Dominican Republic in February 2”, declared Ambassador Cuello.
“Since I arrived in London I became aware that there is a clear and defined British agenda in Santo Domingo, promoted with great effectiveness by Ambassador Steven Fisher and his predecessor Andy Ashcroft and put in motion by the active British-Dominican Chamber of Commerce presided by Campos de Moya. Sadly, a clearly structured Dominican agenda in London was non-existent as far as taking advantage of the Economic Partnership Association, a treaty that I brokered on behalf of the Caribbean region during my tenure in Brussels. We can [by structuring a comprehensive Dominican agenda that capitalizes on this treaty] aspire to significantly increase Dominican exports to Great Britain, one of the most important economies in the European Union”, he added.
Through the Economic Partnership Association, that links the Dominican Republic, Haiti and The United Kingdom, the whole set of barriers to trade are removed, provided EPA signatories comply with the rules and regulations regarding the use of pesticides.
Ambassador Cuello is convinced that these rules and provisions will be faithfully enforced with the designation of the new Minister of Agriculture, Luis Ramon Rodriguez, who participated alongside him in the EPA negotiations.
“Minister Rodriguez knows EPA provisions, rules and regulations by heart. As a broker for the Caribbean region, he was one of those responsible for bringing to the fore the subject of Access to Markets and Farming Products. His intervention in this regard is urgent in order to make sure that PROVOFEX, the bureaucratic body of the Ministry of Agriculture that grants export permits, acts rigorously and expeditiously. Sadly, my exporters are often frustrated by the fact that currently PROVOFEX technicians take as long as three months to grant permits and, once they are granted, nothing really guarantees that their inspections were effective and compliant with international standards, which results in countless Dominican shipments being returned to the country after arriving in Europe”, he added.