That dollar amount reflects a 12.6% increase since 2016 but a -2.3% reduction from 2019 to 2020.
By value, the Dominican Republic’s 3 biggest export products (gold, electro-medical equipment, and cigars or cigarettes) account for well over one-third (36.2%) of the Caribbean island’s overall shipments in 2020.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 89.8% of products exported from the Dominican Republic were bought by importers in: United States (53.8% of the global total), Switzerland (11.8%), Haiti (7.6%), Canada (4.1%), Netherlands (4%), China (2.2%), India (2%), Germany (1.1%), United Kingdom (also 1.1%), Jamaica (0.8%), South Korea (0.7%) and Spain (0.6%).
From a continental perspective, 58.5% of the Dominican Republic’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 21.5% were sold to importers in Europe. The Dominican Republic shipped another 13.2% worth of goods to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Smaller percentages went to Asia (6.7%), Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand, and Africa (0.04%).
Given the Dominican Republic’s population of 10.5 million people, its total $9.85 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $950 for every resident in the Caribbean nation–the third largest populated country in the Caribbean.
Dominican Republic’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Dominican global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Dominican Republic.
- Gems, precious metals: US$2.2 billion (22.4% of total exports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.2 billion (11.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.1 billion (11%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $937.1 million (9.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $468.9 million (4.8%)
- Iron, steel: $452 million (4.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $398.6 million (4%)
- Fruits, nuts: $362 million (3.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $323 million (3.3%)
- Footwear: $213.6 million (2.2%)
Dominican Republic’s top 10 exports accounted for 77.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Plastics both as materials and including articles made from plastics represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 14.5% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was optical, technical and medical apparatus via a 8.1% gain.
Dominican Republic’s shipments under the gems and precious metals category posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 2.3%.
The leading decliner among Dominican Republic’s top 10 export categories was knitted or crocheted clothing including accessories, thanks to a -31.4% drop year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Dominican Republic’s most valuable exported good in 2020 was gold (17.9% of its global total). In second place is electro-medical equipment including xrays (15.2%) trailed by cigars and cigarettes (8.1%), lower-voltage switches or fuses (8%), jewelry (3.7%), sutures and special pharmaceutical goods (also 3.7%), iron ferroalloys (3.4%), bananas and plantains (2.5%), knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (2.4%) and phone system devices including smartphones (1.9%).
The following types of Dominican product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Gems, precious metals: US$1.7 billion (Up by 10.5% since 2019)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $778 million (Up by 28.4%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: $503.5 million (Down by -3.8%)
- Fruits, nuts: $278.2 million (Down by -3.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $249.7 million (Down by -32.3%)
- Cocoa: $166.9 million (Up by 1.6%)
- Footwear: $104.7 million (Down by -11.4%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $84.9 million (Up by 85.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $20.2 million (Down by -48.6%)
- Woodpulp: $5.3 million (Up by 528.6%)
The Dominican Republic has notably positive net exports in the international trade of gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Dominican Republic’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
The Dominican Republic racked up an overall -$8.7 billion trade deficit for 2020, down by -28.3% from the -$12.1 billion in red ink during the prior year.
Below are exports from the Dominican Republic that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Dominican Republic’s goods trail Dominican importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$2.2 billion (Down by -43.1% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.6 billion (Down by -7.1%)
- Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -23.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1 billion (Down by -12.6%)
- Paper, paper items: -$422.9 million (Down by -15.1%)
- Cereals: -$420 million (Down by -5.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$362.2 million (Down by -18.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$324.3 million (Down by -50.9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$270.1 million (Up by 15.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$230.2 million (Up by 8.6%)
Dominican Republic has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category. Red ink expanded most intensely for processed petroleum oils, petroleum gases and crude petroleum oil.
Dominican Export Companies
Not one Dominican corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from the Dominican Republic. Selected examples are shown below.
- Barceló Export Import (alcoholic beverages)
- Brugal & Cía. (alcoholic beverages)
- Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (brewery)
- Cervecería Vegana (brewery)
- Grupo Corripio (conglomerate)
- Grupo León Jimenes (brewery)
- Industrias Nacionales (construction materials)
- J. Armando Bermúdez & Co. (alcoholic beverages)
- MATASA (cigars)
- Servicios Aéreos Profesionales (airliner)
In macroeconomic terms, Dominican Republic’s total exported goods represent 4.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($209 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 5.1% for 2019. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Dominican Republic’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short time period.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Dominican Republic’s average unemployment rate was 5.732% for 2020, down from 6.167% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
Dominican Republic’s capital city is Santo Domingo, officially named Santo Domingo de Guzmán.
See also Guatemala’s Top 10 Exports, Costa Rica’s Top 10 Exports and El Salvador’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 23, 2021
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 23, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 23, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 23, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 23, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 23, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Dominican Republic. Accessed on July 23, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 23, 2021