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Daily News - Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Room for more China-DR trade
Wang Zhen, director for the Foundation for International Studies, said yesterday that of the 20 Latin American nations that trade with China, the DR has the largest trade deficit. China traded US$140 billion with Latin America in 2008.
Trade with the DR was about 10% of the total, but one-sided. Over the past 4 years, Chinese exports to the DR add up to nearly US$1.4 billion. The DR exported only US$290 million to China during the same period.
Zhen made these comments after taking part in a seminar on Chinese foreign trade and foreign relations policies for Latin America at the Dominican Republic Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD). Eddy Martinez of CEI-RD said that President Leonel Fernandez is interested in increasing trade with China.
"It is not necessary to trade with China, it is obligatory," said Martinez. He said the DR could increase its exports of farm produce and industrialized farm products to China, including rum, cigars, coffee and cacao.
The CEI-RD is coordinating Dominican participation in the Shanghai Trade Fair in 2010. The DR will have a stand exhibiting Dominican products during six months. Zhen has recommended efforts be undertaken to increase knowledge of the DR in China, and China in the DR.
The US$290 million consists primarily of ferronickel exports, which have been suspended. Also exported is metal scraps and copper. Copper exports are controversial because a large percentage of the material is taken from stolen cables and wires.
See http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=34164 for background on China's new policies with Latin America.
See http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/05/content_10308117.htm for the White Paper on Chinese-Latin American relations.

Customs gets better
A World Bank report indicates that the DR's Customs Department (DGA) is second in Latin America in having achieved reductions in cost and paperwork for imports and exports. Customs director Rafael Camilo welcomed the news, describing it as important and transcendental. The DR is listed 2nd on the list in 2009 in the Trading Across Borders category, up from 36th in 2008.

Deficit not sustainable
The DR's current budget deficit is not sustainable, according to Franco Uccelli, vice president of JP Morgan's Emerging Markets department. Uccelli expects the DR will end the year with a 3.5% deficit in its GDP, twice what the government had forecast. He spoke during a breakfast organized by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.
Uccelli believes that to finance this deficit is unsustainable.
Uccelli said that considering possible projections by the World Bank, the DR's deficit in the non- financial public sector could finish at 4.7%.
The economist said that for the first time since 2004 the DR will finish the year with its deficit at more than 40% of its GDP. Ucelli says that the energy sector and fiscal issues are the nation's two biggest negative risk factors at the moment.
There is good news, according to Uccelli, who says the DR will finish the year with a 2% economic growth and could grow 4.5% in 2010.
Growth would be spurred by exports, remittances, tourism and investment, as the US economy recovers. The US is the DR's main trading partner. "The economy in the DR is very closely tied to the US," he says.

Where are the savings?
Diario Libre editorial today drives home the point that the government has to start saving. "The Dominican state lacks a coherent resource distribution policy. All public works are built with international loans," comments the newspaper in its editorial today.
It also makes the point: "Neither is there money to adequately maintain the infrastructure, or to replace the fleets of state-owned vehicles or tractors.
"All goes to pay wages and current expenditures, except for the two largest chapters in the Dominican budget: subsidies and paying the debt, that as can be appreciated, has become a revolving mechanism.
"The great sin of our governments has been that they do not save. They eat what is served. Not even the better sugar harvests served to repair the mills and all goes up in smoke and to the insatiable voracity of political philanthropy.
"The national priority should be to put order to the economy so that Dominicans can see the fruit of the pesos they contribute."

Double taxation coming?
The National Business Council (Conep) has published a paid full-page ad in leading newspapers rejecting the proposal that city governments should be allowed to create taxes.
Conep is concerned about Article 1987 of the proposed new Constitution: "City governments may establish tariffs in their territory authorized by law."
Conep interprets it to mean that this authorizes city governments to create taxes without limitations, which would result in double taxation. The leading business organization favors maintaining the status quo.
The Constitution at present establishes: "City governments can, with the approvals that the law requires, establish tariffs if these do not clash with national taxes, and with inter-municipal or export trade, or with the Constitution and the laws."
Conep warns that if passed as approved in the first reading by the Constitutional Revisory Assembly, it would lead to great economic and institutional conflicts. The organization argues that this would affect the juridical security and would discourage investments due to the lack of clear tax rules and a coherent taxation system.

IDB offers energy help
Manuel Labrado, local representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), announced that next week an IDB mission will meet with Celso Marranzini, the newly-appointed vice President of the State-Owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE). The IDB will offer support for dealing with the problems plaguing the DR electricity sector.

Doctors' dialogue staggers
Doctors and the government are still trying to work out an agreement, yet by the looks of it the chances of any imminent accord are not good. Yesterday, during the latest meeting between the Dominican Medical Association, mediator Monsignor Agripino Nunez and Minister of Public Health Bautista Rojas Gomez, the Minister walked out of the meeting.
Although Nunez claimed that Rojas' departure was in response to a call from the Presidential Palace, journalists speculated that Rojas was not happy about the direction in which the talks were moving.
Hoy reports that from the onset there was a feeling among those present that little progress would come from the talks.
Hoy cites external sources that claim that there is no real motivation on the part of the government to resolve the issue. The media says that the government is just buying time.

Dominicans in trouble
According to Director of Prisons Manuel de Jesus Perez Sanchez, there are 37,000 Dominicans in jail across the world. Of that number an estimated 17,000 are in jail in the US. Perez said that the DR's Prosecutor General's Office has created a special department to track the progress of those 37,0000 cases.
He added that the DR has signed extradition agreements with 12 countries. Spain, Holland, Venezuela, Canada and Brazil have all signed agreements with the DR. He said that particular agreement with the US has not been signed as the DR is waiting for details on the agreement before it proceeds.

The enemy: drug traffickers
Air Force Chief Major General Carlos Rafael Altuna Tezanos says that the Armed Forces need to change in order to fight new battles. The days of wars based on ideas are in the past. "The Armed Forces have changed. Our main enemy is no longer communism. The new threats are: asset laundering, drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorism and devastation of the environment," he told El Caribe in an interview. Altuna has high hopes that the eight recently purchased Super Tucano jets will deliver a decisive blow to drug trafficking in the DR. He said Dominican pilots had spent 45 days training with the Brazilian air force. Altuna Tezanos added that drug traffickers used the DR because they know that neither radars nor airplanes are in place to pursue them.
He said a tender has been held to purchase the new radars that will defend the DR's air space.

Who's behind the US$4.6M case?
Hoy columnist Claudio Acosta speculates on who might be behind the delays in the case against Jose D. Figuereo Agosto, the Puerto Rican jail fugitive who lived a life of luxury in the DR. Figuereo is now known to have continued his drug trafficking business while in the country.
Acosta writes that there seem to be no signs of his whereabouts, despite the searches in the east and north last weekend. "One does not have to be the National District prosecutor to reach the conclusion that the 'privileged treatment' that enabled him to secure several Dominican identities or the protection received from local authorities during his stay are the same reasons why he has not been found," writes the commentator.
He speculates that Figuereo, described as one of the most powerful drug dealers operating in the Caribbean, could have escaped the authorities again.
Hoy newspaper reports that the delays in issuing search warrants had as of yesterday impeded drug agents and prosecutors from carrying out search operations.

Issue more extraditions
Presidential drug trafficking advisor, lawyer Marino Vinicio (Vincho) Castillo says that the US should request more civilians and military figures in extradition as a way of helping Dominicans to fight drug trafficking. He said that the only thing the drug dealers feared was extradition.
"I maintain that the US needs to improve its extradition policies to step up the war against drugs. They need to request more extraditions of civilians and military personnel," he said, as reported in Hoy.
He pointed to the case of the leading Cali capos, now in jail in the US after being requested in extradition.
He said he was aware of the extradition request for the two Navy officers who are being sought by the Puerto Rican judicial authorities, but that it was apparent there were difficulties that were delaying the process.
A source has told Listin Diario that former Navy lieutenant Carlos Rosso Pena, who was fired in August 2008 for his ties to drug trafficking, and Navy Captain Miguel Antonio Suarez Silfa have been requested in extradition. The two are linked to the murder of seven Colombians in Paya. Rosso's whereabouts are unknown.
Suarez Silfa has voluntarily handed himself in to the US authorities in Puerto Rico. He is accused of picking up and transporting cocaine for delivery to Puerto Rico on a Dominican Navy coastguard boat. Suarez Silfa served as commander of the GC-107, the Luperon station, second in command of the Capella, in charge of the Navy post in Bayahibe, commander of Neyba, and the Las Americas International Airport VIP room. His father is a rear admiral in the Navy, according to Listin Diario.
Rosso was an officer assigned to the Intelligence Department of the Navy (M2), the Navy Military Police, the Armed Forces Intelligence Division (J2), as well as patroller on the Juan Alejandro Acosta ship.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief Major General Pedro Rafael Pena Antonio said that more than 700 members of the Armed Forces have been fired for acts that link them to drug trafficking.

Officers get promoted
Twenty-five drug enforcement and Police agents have been promoted by President Leonel Fernandez for their role in seizing a 250-kilo shipment of cocaine in Barahona and US$4.6 million in cash from an SUV in an apartment building in Santo Domingo.
The President said the promotions were made in recognition for their contributions to the war against drugs.
Presidential press director Rafael Nunez said that these officers had risked their lives and were an example to all citizens.

Papi's record
David Ortiz has had a tough time lately. His decline in production coupled with injuries and rumors of steroids use have led to a difficult emotional season for the once prolific homerun hitter.
But yesterday against the Angels, Papi showed he still had something in the tank and the Red Sox faithful cheered him on for that. Ortiz hit his 270th homerun as a designated hitter, a record previously held by slugger Frank Thomas. Thomas had 269 career homers from the DH position.
The homerun also gave Papi 313 career homeruns, and helped guide the Red Sox to a 4-1 victory over the Angels.
Papi has a .233 average, 24 homeruns, 83 RBI and 66 runs scored on the season. In other baseball news, Kansas City Royals catcher Miguel Olivo became the first Dominican catcher to hit 20 homeruns in a season.
The homerun came during an 11-1 trouncing of the Detroit Tigers.

Arlenis Sosa coming for DM09
Dominicana Moda, DM09, will be back in Santo Domingo starting on Monday, 19 October. Luis Menieur is booked for the first fashion show, with the participation of Arlenis Sosa, the Dominican "top model" ranked 24th in the world, who has modeled for a large number of leading cosmetic companies and international designers. Also coming are Austria Alcantara, Avril Guerrero and Rene Rodriguez, other Dominican international top models.
This year, Dominican designer Jenny Polanco will be presenting a performance in honor of the late Pina Bausch.
This year, a mall for fashion and apparel-related companies to show their goods will be open at the Hotel Occidental Embajador, which is again hosting the event.
Scheduled for 20 October are more fashion shows, with the presentation of the Caribbean Designers Showcase, with designer clothes from Jamaica, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Trinidad & Tobago and Haiti. The evening closes with a fashion show by Marisol Henriquez and Leonel Lirio.
Fashion shows continue through the week until Saturday, 24 October the closing with Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera and a grand dinner and closing party.

HappyLand at Jumbo
Children living in western Santo Domingo have a new entertainment venue. HappyLand opens at the Jumbo Luperon on Saturday, 19 September, with many games for active youngsters. Leading attractions are the Gold Mine Coaster and Coco's Jump. HappyLand has already being operating successfully for several years at the Jumbo Megacentro facility on the eastern side of the city.

Racing at the Autodrome
The II Grand Classic, sponsored by Leidsa lottery, is taking place at the Mobil 1 Autodrome on the Las Americas expressway on Sunday. A purse of RD$1 million in prizes awaits the winners in the DTS, RS, PM1 and PM2 categories. For this sponsored event, admission is a used ticket from any of the Leidsa lottery days from 14-20 September. Races begin at 10am.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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