World September 28, 2023 | 8:05 am

Delegations of US officials verify matters in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo.- Recently, at least three delegations of officials from the US Department of Labor and US Customs and Border Protection have visited the Dominican Republic to assess trade and labor-related matters.

According to the Dominican Ministry of Labor, Sarah Casson from the Office of International Labor Affairs of the US Department of Labor visited the country from September 20 to 24. The visits are related to the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America, and the United States (DR-Cafta). The United States Congress requires periodic reports on DR-Cafta, including opportunities for public input.

The Dominican government is currently reviewing the tariff reduction on rice within the framework of DR-Cafta, with plans for it to be reduced to zero by 2025. The United States has a significant interest in these negotiations.

The Ministry of Labor clarified that these information requirements apply to all member countries of the treaty, not just the Dominican Republic. The visits are part of efforts to better understand various sectors and do not have a specific focus on any particular industry, including the sugar industry.

In addition to the visit by Sarah Casson, a delegation from the Office of Labor Affairs, including Nadia Al-Dayel, Jarrett Basedow, and Marina Cordero, visited from September 17 to 26 to gain a better understanding of various sectors in the country.

There has also been a visit from the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP) to verify cases reported from the Dominican Republic. However, details about this visit have not been provided by the US Embassy in Santo Domingo.

It’s important to note that these verification visits do not cover the Central Romana Corporation, a company that has been prohibited from exporting unrefined sugar and sugar-based products to the United States since November 2022. This prohibition is due to allegations of forced labor in its operations, which the company has denied. The United States Department of Labor previously identified sugar cane from the Dominican Republic on its list of goods produced with child labor or forced labor.

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