The Dominican Republic enters the 21st century having made considerable strides in modernizing its economy and ridding itself of dependency on sugar. Its economy is now relatively diversified between agriculture, manufacturing and services. It also has considerable potential for expanding its tourism industry, for developing export markets for non-traditional agricultural commodities, and for maintaining a steady level of income from mining. The movement towards privatization is likely to continue, as governments try to divest themselves of loss-making assets. The country is well positioned in terms of international trade to take advantage of preferential treatment both from the United States and from the European Union. After decades of regional isolation, it is now also looking to increase its commercial cooperation with other Caribbean and Latin American countries.
However, severe problems remain. Tourism and manufacturing, as well as mining, are still vulnerable to external economic shocks. Too little manufacturing is aimed at the domestic market, with the result that the country spends too much on imported goods. Stubborn trade deficits and dependency on foreign capital appear likely to continue as obstacles to sustained economic health. Privatization will likely have a negative impact on the poor through reduced employment and rising prices. No Dominican government has yet succeeded in radically altering the imbalance of wealth and opportunity in the country, and it will take unusual political courage to do so.