More information about the Dominican Republic is available on the Dominican Republic page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RELATIONS
The United States established diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic in 1884. Since its 1844 independence from neighboring Haiti, the country has seen a mix of coups, U.S. military interventions and occupations, military government, and democratic government. The Dominican Republic has enjoyed peaceful transfers of power from one freely elected president to another since 1978.
U.S. relations with the Dominican Republic are solid, but complex. The country is an important partner in hemispheric affairs due to its standing in the Caribbean as the second-largest economy (behind Cuba) and third-largest country in terms of population (behind Cuba and Haiti), its large bilateral trade with the United States, and its proximity to the United States. The two governments cooperate in the fight against trafficking in illegal substances and persons, the extradition of fugitives, and measures to hinder illegal migration. The Dominican Republic is a key transit country for cocaine from South America transiting the Caribbean destined for North America and Europe.
The United States has a strong interest in a democratic, stable, and economically healthy Dominican Republic and supports its democratic and economic development. While the Dominican Republic had experienced robust economic growth over the past 25 years, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the nation’s economy. According to an October 2020 World Bank report, the Dominican economy was expected to contract by 4.3 percent in 2020. Despite a falling poverty rate, income
inequality remains high, and the country faces considerable obstacles to sustaining such robust growth over the long term, including the poor quality of the country’s education system, the inability of the health system to adequately respond to the population’s needs, and severe inefficiencies in the energy sector. While there have been efforts to address corruption, improving transparency is a priority in order to consolidate the country’s democratic gains. The U.S. Government works with Dominican authorities to address these issues, as well as with local and international partners to strengthen institutional and technical capacity.
U.S. Assistance to the Dominican Republic
U.S. assistance helps build accountable and transparent institutions that can better serve the needs of the Dominican people and strengthen democratic governance. As the leading foreign investor in the Dominican Republic, U.S. businesses benefit from improved business conditions created by this assistance. In addition, U.S. assistance stimulates income generation opportunities for youth, small businesses, and rural communities, promotes English language learning and increased educational and cultural opportunities through exchange programs, improves the protection of the environment, enables local organizations to promote ecological and cultural tourism, and furthers the equitable provision of quality health and education services. Security assistance through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) complements bilateral programs in the Dominican Republic and provides additional assistance to law enforcement, citizen safety, and rule of law programs. This helps safeguard the broader Caribbean region, which is a transit point for goods and people headed to the United States.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has contributed donations, strengthened technical capacity and worked across sectors to enhance the Dominican Republic’s response to the pandemic.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The Dominican Republic’s most important trading partner is the United States. The two countries are parties to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), along with five Central American countries. This agreement has created new economic opportunities by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. It has facilitated trade and investment among the seven countries and furthers regional integration.
U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic include petroleum products, oil, agricultural products, machinery, vehicles, cotton, yarn, and fabric. U.S. imports from the Dominican Republic include optical and medical instruments, electrical components, jewelry and gold, agricultural products, machinery, tobacco, and knit apparel. U.S. firms, mostly manufacturers of apparel, footwear, and light electronics, as well as U.S. energy companies, account for much of the foreign private investment in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic’s Membership in International Organizations
The Dominican Republic and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
More information about the Dominican Republic is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
U.S Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean
CIA World Factbook Dominican Republic Page
USAID Dominican Republic Page
History of U.S. Relations With the Dominican Republic
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies