Government Pursues Alternate Solutions to Safeguard National Production from DR-Cafta

Santo Domingo.- The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) continues to be a topic of debate in the country, especially with regard to its potential impact on Dominican agricultural producers, including those in the rice and livestock sectors.

The Minister of Industry, Commerce and MSMEs (MICM), Víctor “Ito” Bisonó, stated that the government has been collaborating with the actors in the rice sector to ensure that they are aligned in the protection of national production.

He highlighted the importance of addressing the legal aspects and seeking expert advice to navigate this complex issue.

Vilma Arbaje, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade of the MICM, analyzed the internal measures taken to support producers when North American products can enter the Dominican Republic without tariffs.

These measures include improving the efficiency of production processes, such as planting, harvesting and more, particularly in the case of rice production.

She highlighted the importance of rice as a staple food in the country and the large number of provinces and producers involved in its production.

Arbaje clarified that DR-CAFTA does not impose limitations on the entry of products into the country.

Instead, they are exploring legally accepted figures to address the challenges posed by the agreement.

The Dominican Republic remains committed to meeting its DR-CAFTA commitments and its laws align with these commitments.

While the agreement’s timeline ends in January 2025, the rules outlined in the agreement will continue to apply as long as the Dominican Republic remains a member of DR-CAFTA.

Non-tariff measures, trade defense, public purchases and dispute resolution mechanisms will remain in force.

Arbaje highlighted that only products originating from DR-CAFTA countries can enter the Dominican Republic tariff-free, and importers must request preferential conditions under the agreement.

The impact of the rice sector in the Dominican Republic is substantial, generating thousands of jobs and contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

The self-sufficiency of the sector and the surplus of rice production have turned the Dominican Republic into an exporter of rice products.

In summary, the Dominican government is actively working with stakeholders to address concerns related to DR-CAFTA and ensure the protection and competitiveness of national agricultural production, particularly in the rice sector.

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