The Dominican Republic was considered a country with a promising future in developing advanced telecommunications infrastructures in Latin America. Since 2010, however, the growth rate has slowed. The cost of ICT services has increased and is now as high or higher than the cost of comparable services in other countries of the region; as costs have risen, the overall quality of services has also deteriorated. Large companies like Codetel and Orange (FR) dominate the telecommunications market. Broadband DSL represents about 56% of the total Internet subscribers. There is access to regular ADSL, G.SHDSL, and services only on metropolitan areas, costs are high and service is decent. Cable Internet is offered by a couple of cable companies at lower costs than ADSL but the service is very deficient and unreliable. The Instituto Dominicano de Telecomunicaciones (INDOTEL) is the regulatory agency of the telecoms market.
The Dominican Republic was for most of its history primarily an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, but over the last three decades the economy has become more diversified as the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy’s largest employer, due to growth in construction, tourism, and free trade zones. The mining sector has also played a greater role in the export market since late 2012 with the commencement of the extraction phase of the Pueblo Viejo Gold and Silver mine, one of the largest gold mines in the world.
A tax reform package passed in November 2012, a reduction in government spending, and lower energy costs helped to narrow the central government budget deficit from 6.6% of GDP in 2012 to 2.6% in 2016, and public debt is declining. Marked income inequality, high unemployment, and underemployment remain important long-term challenges; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of GDP.
The economy is highly dependent upon the US, the destination for approximately half of exports and the source of 40% of imports. Remittances from the US amount to about 7% of GDP, equivalent to about a third of exports and two-thirds of tourism receipts. The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement came into force in March 2007, boosting investment and manufacturing exports.