Dominican Republic, Alliance sign landmark agreement to drive inclusive international trade

Official ceremony celebrates major export initiative

USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman joined the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) of the Dominican Republic, Victor Orlando Bisonó Haza, and other dignitaries in marking the official launch of an ambitious trade facilitation programme to increase small business participation in export trade.

Government and local private sector stakeholders signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, an international not-for-profit entity working with developing countries to deliver inclusive trade reforms by bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners.

The project in the Dominican Republic will empower small businesses, particularly those owned and led by women, to capitalise on nearshoring and global export market opportunities. This initiative comes under USAID’s Enterprises for Development, Growth, and Empowerment (EDGE) Fund, which aims to encourage private sector participation in fulfilling development objectives.

The launch of the project, entitled ‘Driving Inclusive Trade’, took place on December 12 at the headquarters of the government agency responsible for promoting international trade and Foreign Direct Investment (ProDominicana).

This project aims to improve national competitiveness, while also contributing to gender and economic equity – both core objectives of the government and the Alliance.

The project will concentrate on three main workstreams:

  1. Catalysing and strengthening business linkages between local MSMEs and exporting multinationals operating from the country’s Free Trade Zones.
  2. Supporting MSMEs to obtain simplified Advanced Economic Operator certification, enabling faster customs clearance and 24/7 customs support.
  3. Developing workshops for MSMEs to take advantage of nearshoring opportunities and facilitate their integration into global value chains.

The Alliance project, which is scheduled for completion in early-2025, will be implemented in collaboration with local institutions, including the Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), the Dominican Association of Free Zones (ADOZONA), the American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic (AMCHAMDR), the Dominican Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CODOPYME), the National Council of Free Zones, the General Directorate of Customs, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and MSMEs, ProDominicana and the Centre for Industrial Development and Competitiveness (ProIndustria).

USAID Deputy Administrator Coleman said: “I look forward to our new partnership with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, the Government of the Dominican Republic, and private sector stakeholders as we launch this important initiative. Supported by USAID’s EDGE Fund, this new program will enhance inclusive trade opportunities and boost sustainable economic development in the Dominican Republic, a priority for USAID.”

Alliance Director Philippe Isler said: “We are delighted to be involved in a project that goes to the heart of trade facilitation by supporting MSMEs, many of them women-owned or led, to realise their untapped potential. Small firms are the backbone of every economy: empowering them is key to future development.”