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 intervention and occupations, military government, and democratic government. The Dominican Republic’s first peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to another was in 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 largest economy and second-largest country in terms of population and land mass, 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 United States has a strong interest in a democratic, stable, and economically healthy Dominican Republic and supports its democratic and economic development. The Dominican Republic has registered the fastest economic growth in Latin America during 2014-15 with low, stable inflation. Nonetheless, income inequality remains high and the country faces some 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. Violence has increased in the Dominican Republic in recent years. While there have been coordinated 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.
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 creates new economic opportunities by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. It facilitates trade and investment among the seven countries and furthers regional integration.
U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic include oil, agricultural products, machinery, vehicles, cotton, yarn, and fabric. U.S. imports from the Dominican Republic include optical and medical instruments, 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.
More information about the Dominican Republic is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: