Updated 06:21 AM EST, Tue, Nov 24, 2020

Dominican Republic's Economy Now the Strongest in the Latin American & Caribbean Region

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Dominican Republic reportedly now has the strongest economy in the Latin American and Caribbean region, officials announced on Wednesday.

The country's economy has grown 7 percent last year, which Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez credited to the lowered international oil prices and the growth of the U.S. economy, according to NBC News. Valdez said that these factors helped generate more tourists and remittances for the Caribbean nation.

The Dominican Republic's 7 percent GDP growth was its second consecutive year, with booming performances in tourism, banking, and construction contributing to the economic boost, central bank figures indicated, as reported by NBC News.

"The results have been extremely satisfying. I would say better than expected," Valdez said, noting that the country's growth comes as other nations in the region face slow economies, the news outlet added.

The World Bank's statistics showed that Panama's economy has remained strong with its 6 percent GDP growth in 2015, NBC News further reported. However, Latin America overall had an almost 1 percent drop in its GDP. The bank foresees that the region, as a whole, will experience zero economic growth in 2016, but said there is a prospective 2.2 percent growth in 2017-18.

Valdez said that Dominican Republic's foreign exchange earnings from tourism, remittances, foreign investment, and exports of goods and services surpassed $23 billion, or 35 percent of the total GDP, NBC News added. Inflation stayed at 2.3 percent, which is below the 4 percent target laid down by the government. But Valdez also noted that in spite of the country's positive economic performance, a huge part of the population still does not have enough financial means to purchase basic food supplies.

In December 2015, President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic announced that his administration is trying to attract the private sector into government-led initiatives intended for major investments, such as building infrastructure projects mainly in mass transit and energy, Dominican Today reported.

Serving as the invited speaker for the American Chamber of Commerce, or Amcham-DR, yearend luncheon, Medina urged business leaders to be unafraid in taking risks by investing in the country's energy system. The president believes that "in order to progress, the electricity problem must first be solved," the news outlet added.

"It is urgent to change the fuel sources to lower costs. We were called upon to act so we proceeded, the State could not stand idly by withstanding high oil prices," Medina said, as quoted in Dominican Today's report. He repeated that in order for his efforts to succeed, his administration must form partnerships with the private sector.

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