Free Economic Zones (FZEs) have turned out to be the biggest drivers of economic growth in the Dominican Republic, with the number of jobs created reaching 403,318 so far.
According to a study conducted by the country’s Ministry of Commerce in partnership with various government agencies, the export revenue generated by the zones is on course to exceed US$10 billion this year.
There are as many as 79 FZEs in the country, representing 13% of all its formal jobs. In some provinces, economic zones account for one in four formal jobs.
While these tax-free zones are favorites of foreign BPO providers, the major dollar earners are cigar makers and textile companies. The United States is the biggest buyer of cigars manufactured in the Dominican Republic.
Every FZE has seen an upsurge in revenue year after year. In 2019, for example, the zones collectively exported goods and services worth US$7.8 billion. The revenue increased by 22% in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The performance of the sector during 2021 evidences why our free zones are zones of opportunities for all Dominicans, and the prospects for the close of 2022 allow us to affirm that we will continue to break records,” said Ito Bisonó, Minister of Industry, Commerce and SMEs.
Under the free zone program, the government also provides skill training to its young graduates. Since 1992, as many as 770,914 workers have been trained in various jobs.