The Dominican Republic formalized relations with China this month. Several Chinese companies already operate in this part of the Caribbean. Nitza Soledad Perez reports.
Chinese companies have big plans for the Dominican Republic, and some of them were in the pipeline before Beijing forged diplomatic ties with the Caribbean nation.
Kingtom Aluminum’s factory is open for business. Their investment here is close to $20 million. The plant employs over 200 Dominican workers.
“We are dedicated to enhancing the political relationship between the two countries, promoting export, creating more local jobs and helping the Dominican economy grow,” Zheng Chao Ling, CEO of Kingtom Aluminum said.
“They are sources of employment and this helps the country, because for people like me, there’s not that many jobs. And this is a big company. They need a lot of workers,” said Jeffrey German Hichez who recently joined the company.
Youth unemployment is about double the overall jobless rate. Manufacturing and construction jobs are a life line for them.
Deals with China promise to create thousands of new positions and bring total investment up to almost $1 billion. For the Dominican Republic, one of the most urgent projects is that proposed by Power China.
“We are trying to develop a water resource project in river of Yuna, it’s a multiple proposal project. It can prevent flood, store the water for irrigation and drinking water, and also a hydroelectric plant.” said Power China Project Manager Liu Aisheng.
Power China has been researching this river work for two years. It will cost about $350 million – with a potential to employ over 2,000 local workers.
“Every rainy season there is flooding, people get homeless, there are corpses, housing has been damaged. When you read these kind of news you want to do something not for the company but for the people, to help.” added Liu.
This new chapter could bring much-needed economic opportunities to a country, where one out of three Dominicans is still fighting poverty.