Guzmán Ariza > Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic > Firm Profile

Guzmán Ariza
12 PABLO CASALS
SERRALLES
SANTO DOMINGO, 10125
Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic > Labour and employment Tier 1

Clients appreciate Guzmán Ariza's 'good reputation, and the seriousness with which it handles cases'. The firm assists clients with a great variety of labour and employment matters, starting from employment contracts all the way to termination of employment, collective bargaining agreements, labour regulation compliance and employee assignment in the event of M&A activities. The firm has a broad local reach in the country, granting 'competitive advantage of local knowledge'. Many of the firm's lawyers are highly appreciated both by clients and the market. Rhadaisis Espinal's 'experience puts her at the top in her area of legal practice'; she co-leads the practice together with Rubén García. In Puerto Plata, Julio Brea Guzmán stands out for his 'deep professional knowledge of the areas'; he specialises in litigation, management training, employment audits, severance agreements, and employment policies and handbooks. Senior counsel Elvis Roque is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Rubén García; Rhadaisis Espinal

Testimonials

‘One can count on any of their lawyers to be able to advise on all labour issues. Their strengths include teamwork, quick response to requests, ability to put themselves in the shoes of the client and empathise with them, good reputation, and the seriousness with which they handle cases. In short, a firm that supports and sustains the client at all times.’

‘Julio Brea stands out, who combines the qualities of a great manager, such as deep professional knowledge of the areas he handles and his personal side makes him a unique advisor in his area.’

‘Elvis Roque has vast experience and knowledge in the labour area and brings a unique and highly valued approach. He is also a tireless professional who is available no matter the day or time.’

‘Guzman Ariza has offices in the most important cities, tourist destinations and real estate development geographical areas in the DR managed by partners. As a result, their expertise is not only national but local, giving GA the competitive advantage of local knowledge as well as the ability to learn and quickly react to events and information important to its clients.’

‘Rhadaisis Espinal’s legal knowledge, expertise and experience put her at the top in her area of legal practice. Her integrity, honesty, professionalism and personal responsiveness set her apart.’

Key clients

Club Med

Pawa Dominicana

New York Mets

Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort

SH Cacao CO Partners

Sosúa Ocean Village

Orica Dominicana

Grupo Laugama

Global PreMeds

TravelSmart

Digital Works

Acun Medya Global

Work highlights

  • Negotiated for Club Med a collective bargaining agreement with the union representing its 1,300 employees.
  • Assisting Pawa Dominicana after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Dominican Republic suspended Pawa’s operations; Pawa requested the Ministry of Labour to suspend the effects of its labour agreements.
  • Representing the New York Mets in a lawsuit filed by a local company that allegedly represented a rookie player from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and subscribed a contract with his parents for training purposes.

Dominican Republic > Real estate and tourism Tier 1

Guzmán Ariza has one of the most recognised real estate departments in the Dominican Republic. It covers day-to-day matters and operations, permits and licences, in addition to project financing and acquisition deals for hotel chains. As a key differentiator, the team's expertise also encompasses projects regarding condominiums, luxury second homes and agricultural properties. Fabio Guzmán Ariza is a highly regarded real estate lawyer with longstanding experience in this area. Alfredo Guzmán Saladín is the head of the firm’s Bávaro-Punta Cana and La Romana offices; he has extensive experience in assisting multinational clients with transactions in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Julio Brea Guzmán also receives praise; he focuses on condominium transactions and litigation. Associate Achelis Santana is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Ariza; Alfredo Guzmán Saladín; Julio Brea Guzmán; Rubén García

Testimonials

‘The personal treatment of Alfredo Guzman and Achelis Santana makes the client feel secure.’

‘One can count on any of their lawyers to be able to advise you on all the issues you handle with them. A firm that supports and sustains the client at all times.’

‘Achelis Santana is extremely careful with all the follow-ups. Guzman Ariza’s team works like a great machine: fast, efficient, impeccable.’

‘Julio Brea stands out.’

Key clients

Club Mediterranée

Meliá Hotels International

Anex Tours

12Tree Finance

Noval

Sunwing Travel Group

Viva Wyndham Resorts

Sosúa Ocean Village

Tierra del Sol Beach Hotel and Casino

Elof Hansson

Ani Villas

Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort

Dream City

Acun Medya

Athelia Blue Finance

Villas Infinity

Knauf GIPS

Blue Jack Tar

Dama Hoteles

Nader Enterprises

Work highlights

  • Acted as outside general counsel to Club Med on all its legal matters in the Dominican Republic, including real estate transactions, government permits, corporate matters, and other areas.
  • Acting as counsel for Meliá’s Dominican subsidiaries since 2005.
  • Assisting Anex Tours in the acquisition of a 370-acre property in the Macao-Punta Cana area for $41m.

Dominican Republic > Corporate and M&A Tier 2

Guzmán Ariza‘s corporate team is noted for having ‘a lot of knowledge in the legal area and well-defined processes to achieve the objectives and work requested by the client‘. The firm is active in a significant number of bankruptcy cases in the country, and is the first port of call for restructurings involving trusts, as well as in the recognition in the Dominican Republic of foreign insolvency proceedings. Project finance transactions are another key specialism, in which co-chair Fabio Guzmán Saladín excels, especially in relation to construction, real estate, tourism, natural resources and infrastructure projects. Other key lawyers include co-chair Alfredo Guzmán Saladín, who is recognised for his experience in private public partnerships (PPPs), tax structuring and corporate restructurings in the hotels sector, and Alberto Reyes Báez, who serves as legal advisor to many international infrastructure and construction companies.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Saladín; Alfredo Guzmán Saladín

Testimonials

‘The team is well organised and teamwork is indisputable, they have a lot of knowledge in the legal area and well-defined processes to achieve the objectives and work requested by the client.’

‘Knowledge, professionalism, speed, follow-up and resolution.’

‘Fabio Guzmán Saladín stands out for his solid knowledge and prompt response rate.’

‘You can count on any of their lawyers to be able to advise you on all the issues you handle with them. Their strengths include teamwork, their quick response to requests made by the client, their ability to put themselves in the client’s shoes and empathise with them, their good reputation, and the seriousness with which they handle cases. In short, a firm that supports and sustains the client at all times.’

‘Julio Brea stands out, who combines the qualities of a great manager, such as deep professional knowledge of the areas he handles, with unique personal values.’

Key clients

Blue Orchard

Pan Am World Airways Dominicana

POSCO Engineering and Construction

12Tree Finance

Elof Hansson

Knauf GIPS

SH Cacao CO Partners

Acun Medya

Digital Works Company

Phillips 66

Trevi Galante

UBS Group Investment Bank

General Cocoa Company

Coffee America

Rep1 Baseball

Distinct Investment Holdings

Renova Expert

Abdelmaseh

Arconim Constructora

Adelca

Ava Airways

Kalexius

Arendal

Orica

Work highlights

  • Advised 12Tree Finance Investment in the development of greenfield and brownfield investments in the Dominican Republic.
  • Advised Emerald Solar Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian group Potentia Renewables, in a $37m financing through the Free Closed Investment Fund for the Development of Dominican Infrastructure, managed by Administradora de Fondos de Inversión Universal.
  • Providing legal advice to Arendal in connection to the consortium negotiations with Barrick Gold, which operates an open pit gold mine in the Dominican Republic, and which hired Arendal for the extension of the Pueblo Viejo Gold Mine.

Dominican Republic > Dispute resolution Tier 2

Guzmán Ariza has a well-established litigation and arbitration practice. The department is under the leadership of the highly regarded Fabio Guzmán Ariza, who focuses his practice on civil procedure, labour, medical malpractice litigation and arbitration, while his team is particularly noted for handling numerous bankruptcy and restructuring procedures involving trusts, and for its expertise in white-collar criminal law. Rhadaisis Espinal is an expert in civil and commercial litigation, and Julio Brea Guzmán additionally covers administrative, real estate and condominium-related litigation. Alberto Reyes Báez acts for both corporate and individual clients in a broad range of business disputes.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Ariza

Testimonials

‘Guzman Ariza has offices in the most important cities, tourist destinations and real estate development geographical areas in the Dominican Republic managed by partners. As a result, their expertise is not only national but local, giving Guzman Ariza the competitive advantage of local knowledge as well as the ability to learn and quickly react to events and information important to its client’s cases. This capability is especially critical in Dominican Republic as it pertains to legal and corporate matters related to real estate transactions and tourism.’

‘Fabio Guzman Ariza has years of experience, respectability and professionalism and is straightforward. He is very personable and approachable and an outstanding human being.’

‘Rhadaisis Espinal: her legal knowledge and expertise, and experience places her at the top in her area of ​​legal practice.’

‘Fabio Guzman Salazar has legal knowledge and expertise, business acumen, integrity, honesty and approachability.’

‘You can count on the fact that any of their lawyers are capable of advising you on all the issues you handle with them. Their strengths include teamwork, their quick response to requests made by the client, their ability to put themselves in the client’s shoes and empathise with them, their good reputation, the seriousness with which they handle cases. In short, a firm that supports and sustains the customer at all times.’

‘Julio Brea stands out. He combines the qualities of a great manager, such as his deep professional knowledge of the areas he handles, and his personable character, which makes him a unique advisor in his area.’

‘Elvis Roque has vast experience and knowledge in the litigation area and brings a unique and highly valued approach.’

Key clients

Pawa Dominicana

Club Med

JJH Capital Inversiones Extranjeras

Wells Fargo Bank

Sunwing Travel Group

Trevi-Galante

Meliá Hotels International

Edesur Dominicana

Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort

Consorcio de Construcciones Planificadas

Dominican Government (Bahía de las Aguilas)

Acun Medya

Cap Maison

Bartolo Colón

Work highlights

  • Assisting Pawa Dominicana in its bankruptcy.
  • Successfully defended the hotel Club Méditerranée against a $6m lawsuit filed by a cigar producing company for an alleged illegal eviction from premises in the resort.
  • Representing JJH Capital Inversiones Extranjeras in a land use lawsuit.

Dominican Republic > Tax Tier 2

Guzmán Ariza‘s tax department contributes to the firm’s corporate practice and assists clients in the management of financial risks, especially those arising from commercial transactions, through dealing with the impact of financial obligations for corporate clients. Additionally, tax planning and regulatory compliance are also covered by the team, along with counselling in relation to fiscal audits, tax structures and tax exemptions. The team is co-led by Alfredo Guzmán SaladínFabio Guzmán Saladín (who also lead the real estate and corporate practices, respectively), and Alberto Reyes Báez; the team can also call on in-house tax advisor and CPA, Mariano Corral.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Saladín; Alfredo Guzmán Saladín

Key clients

Warner Gaming

Eden Roc at Cap Cana Hotel

Fuxion BioTech

Schrader Camargo

12Tree Finance GmbH

Club Med

Elof Hansson

Fastenal

Wolverine

Mammoet Caribbean

Francisco Martinez Group

Tecnove Group

SH Cacao CO Partners LP

ADELCA

Silva International Investments

Digital Works Company

Voith Hydro

Potentia Renewables

Noval

Work highlights

  • Advised 12Tree Finance on the development of greenfield and brownfield investments, through the creation of a free zone park, thus obtaining better tax incentives and benefits.
  • Advising Schrader Camargo on tax matters related to the incorporation of the Consortium Catalina 15, to provide services to the Punta Catalina thermoelectric power plant project.
  • Assisting Fastenal in all corporate, contractual, tax and government matters.

Dominican Republic > Banking and finance Tier 3

Guzmán Ariza‘s banking and finance professionals include lawyers, business consultants, auditors and tax advisors; together, they make up a solid team, specialised in assisting with bankruptcy cases under the new Dominican bankruptcy and restructuring law, in which practice co-head Fabio Guzmán Saladín is a leading expert. Project finance is another key area of specialism for the department, which has experience in transactions for the development of construction, real estate, tourism, energy and infrastructure projects. Other key contacts include Alfredo Guzmán Saladín, who focuses on tax and project finance, and Alberto Reyes Báez, who frequently acts for international banks in financing matters.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Saladín

Testimonials

‘Guzman Ariza is one of our go-to firms in the DR.’

‘Fabio Guzman is an excellent lawyer and always good to have on deals.’

They are a very efficient and competitive team. They are very organised in all their areas.’

I’d highlight the responsibility and excellent communication.’

Key clients

Blue Orchard

Pan Am World Airways Dominicana

POSCO Engineering

12Tree Finance

UBS Group Investment Bank

General Cocoa Company – Coffee America

Distinct Investment Holdings – Renova Expert

Arconim Constructora

Potentia Renewables (Emerald Solar Energy)

Trevi-Galante

Work highlights

  • Advised 12Tree Finance Investment in the development of greenfield and brownfield investments in the Dominican Republic.
  • Advised Emerald Solar Energy on a $37m financing through the Free Closed Investment Fund for the Development of Dominican Infrastructure.
  • Acting as legal advisor to Blue Orchard in connection with two loan agreements for $40m each given to Banco Lafise, a Central American bank with operations in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic > Environment Tier 3

Guzmán Ariza is involved in environmental law matters in connection to its broader real estate and tourism practice. Also of note is its advice on environmental matters in the construction and entertainment industries. A large part of the team’s workload involves sustainability, compliance, permits, and technical and legal feasibility studies, as well as environmental impact assessments, statements and minimum impact certification, among other areas. Alfredo Guzmán Saladín and Giselle Pérez Reyes co-lead the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alfredo Guzmán Saladín; Giselle Pérez Reyes

Key clients

Club Mediterranée

Anex Tours

12Tree Finance

Noval

Viva Wyndham Resorts

Ani Villas

Dream City

Athelia Blue Finance

Knauf GIPS

Nader Enterprises

Work highlights

  • Advised 12Tree Finance on the development of greenfield and brownfield investments in the Dominican Republic, through the creation of a free zone park.
  • Representing Althelia’s Sustainable Ocean Fund SICAV-SIF’s project to provide financing of $5m for the development and management of the Arrecifes del Sureste Marine Sanctuary.
  • Assisted Potentia Renewables with the legal due diligence, as well as in the environmental compliance and the required studies to obtain the final concession on three wind farms in the Dominican Republic, of 50MW, 40MW and 25MW each.

Dominican Republic > Intellectual property Tier 3

Holders of well-known trade marks, patents, industrial designs and copyrights are among Guzmán Ariza's main clients in the IP space. The team is particularly noted for its expertise in connection to the registration of IP rights in the Dominican Republic – a service which it usually provides after having assisted with the opening of subsidiaries or joint venture operations in the country. Infringement, unauthorised use, registration disputes, opposition to patent modifications and anti-counterfeiting matters are also among the group's areas of experience. Practice head Fabio Guzmán Saladín is a member of the Dominican Intellectual Property Association and International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, among others.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Saladín

Key clients

Kikkoman Corporation

Gold Star Tobacco

Sunwing Travel Group

Agrovet

Senninger Irrigation

Rud Starcke

Industria Farmo Química

Moeller Gomez Lince & Cia

Xponentiall Fitness

Inversiones Austral

Masonite Corporation

Productora de Capsulas de Gelatina

Indufar C.I.S.A

DLA Piper

Celltrion

Vision Mundial Internacional (World Vision International)

Sapporo Holdings

Coffee Marks Limited – Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority

Industrias Laford

GuanZhouXibinTrading

HairTalk

Sensor Development Corporation

TLC Products

Creative Recreation

Jardinova

Work highlights

  • Registered copyrights belonging to World Vision International regarding its strategies and system for child care programme called Criando con Ternura.
  • Assisted Kikkoman to modify the information pertaining to its trade mark registration, presenting the documents and registration of the trade mark worldwide to argue that the trade mark must be protected.
  • Registered seven of Gold Star Tobacco’s trade marks.

Guzmán Ariza is the only national law firm in the Dominican Republic, with seven offices strategically located to serve the clients in every major business and tourism centre in the country. The firm is client-oriented and offers a full range of services, across a wide variety of practice areas, through the best team of multilingual lawyers.

Our practices have earned us a reputation in the local and international business community as a respected and trusted firm that produces results.

We are internationally connected. As members of SCG Legal and GGI Geneva Group International — we are able to assist the clients effectively in international transactions throughout the world.

Main areas of practice
Corporate: Guzmán Ariza has extensive experience counselling clients in all stages of their business ventures in the Dominican Republic, the largest economy of Central America and the Caribbean. The team of lawyers advises local and international clients in organizing start-ups, managing risks while growing in the market, incorporating new partners, seeking funding for expanding operations, bankruptcy and restructuring procedures or just helping them in complying with all local laws that relate to doing business in the Dominican Republic.

Real estate: Guzmán Ariza’s Dominican real estate department is unsurpassed in its skill, experience and geographical reach. Real estate lawyers work as a cohesive team with other disciplines, including tax, financing, environment, and litigation to ensure that all issues that could impact a transaction are properly and thoroughly addressed.

Mergers and acquisitions: Guzmán Ariza is actively involved in complex corporate transactions in which whole or portions of businesses are transferred, divested or restructured. Members of the corporate team include two partners with both law and MBA degrees, as well as in-house tax and accounting counsels, which generally results in smooth transactions with less time spent on due diligence and negotiations.

Banking, finance and securities: The firm’s expert team of attorneys advises international financial institutions, as well as companies seeking traditional or alternative sources of funds, in the negotiation, structuring, documentation and execution of all types of financial transactions related to the industry.

Project finance: The firm has deep expertise in advising clients in any type of financing transaction involving large infrastructure and industrial projects, regardless of the role its clients may play in them.

The firm has a comprehensive team of experts in corporate law, taxation, banking and finance, securitization, restructurings, and other legal disciplines, ready to efficiently and securely put together all kinds of transactions in project finance.

Tourism : The attorneys at the firm have extensive experience providing counsel and all legal services needed for any tourism-related activity in the Dominican Republic and offer clients “area-specific” advice, as well as counsel on the regulatory framework and incentives through the CONFOTUR Law, applicable to all business activities and transactions within the industry.

Foreign investment, international trade: Guzmán Ariza offers a wide range of services to clients in international trade and investment. The firm’s lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to advise clients on trade agreements, double taxation and international conventions involving the Dominican Republic.

Litigation: The firm has a large team of lawyers with extensive litigation and arbitration experience to handle all disputes its clients may find themselves involved in before local courts, once all negotiations and alternative solutions have been explored, expended or discarded.

Environment, climate change: Guzmán Ariza advises clients on all environmental regulatory, compliance and transactions required for the development of projects in the country. The attorneys help clients with the structuring, financing and implementation of the projects, as well as all transfer, operation and restructuring agreements related to them.

The lawyers counsel local and foreign companies and individuals in different industries and practices, among others; taxation, PPP, infrastructure, cinema, sports, energy, mining, trusts, wealth preservation, manufacturing, food and beverage.

Other offices: Bávaro – Punta Cana, Sosúa – Puerto Plata, Las Terrenas, La Romana – Casa de Campo, Samaná, Cabrera.

DepartmentNameEmailTelephone
Commercial and Corporate Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Commercial and Corporate Alberto Reyes-Báezareyes@drlawyer.com
Real Estate Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Real Estate Julio Brea-Guzmánjbrea@drlawyer.com
Real Estate César Calderónccalderon@drlawyer.com
Finance (project finance/banking/insurance/securities) Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Finance (project finance/banking/insurance/securities) Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Mergers and Acquisitions Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Mergers and Acquisitions Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Litigation and Arbitration Fabio J Guzmán-Arizafguzman@drlawyer.com
Litigation and Arbitration Rhadaisis Espinalrespinal@drlawyer.com
Litigation and Arbitration Julio Brea-Guzmánjbrea@drlawyer.com
Foreign Investment Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Foreign Investment Alberto Reyes-Báezareyes@drlawyer.com
Tourism and Hospitality Julio Brea-Guzmánjbrea@drlawyer.com
Tourism and Hospitality Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Taxation Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Taxation Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Construction Alberto Reyes-Báezareyes@drlawyer.com
Construction César Calderónccalderon@drlawyer.com
Labour and Employment Rubén J Garcíargarcia@drlawyer.com
Labour and Employment Rhadaisis Espinalrespinal@drlawyer.com
Energy and Environment Fabio Guzmán-Saladínfabio@drlawyer.com
Energy and Environment Giselle Pérez-Reyes E: gperez@drlawyer.comgperez@drlawyer.com
Sports and Entertainment Alfredo Guzmán-Saladínaguzman@drlawyer.com
Sports and Entertainment Rubén J Garcíargarcia@drlawyer.com
PhotoNamePositionProfile
Mr César Calderón  photo Mr César Calderón Real Estate and Condominium Law; Tourism and Hospitality; Corporate and Business Law;…
Mrs Rhadaisis Espinal  photo Mrs Rhadaisis Espinal Civil, Commercial and Real Estate Litigation; Contracts and Torts, Banking.
Mr Rubén García  photo Mr Rubén García Real Estate Law; Labor & Employment Law; Corporate and Business; Banking and…
Mr Alfredo Guzmán  photo Mr Alfredo Guzmán Corporate and Business; Real Estate and Condominium Law; Mergers and Acquisitions; Project…
Mr Fabio J Guzmán Ariza  photo Mr Fabio J Guzmán Ariza Litigation and Arbitration, Real Estate and Condominium Law, Corporate and Business Law,…
Mr Fabio J Guzmán-Saladín  photo Mr Fabio J Guzmán-Saladín Corporate and Business; Mergers and Acquisitions; Project Finance; Banking, Insurance and Securities;…
Mr Alberto Reyes  photo Mr Alberto Reyes Corporate and Business; Mergers and Acquisitions; International Trade and Investments; Litigation and…
Other fee-earners : 45 lawyers plus 9 other free earners
Total staff : 125
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SCG Legal
Geneva Group International (GGI)
Partners : 8

Dominican Republic

INTRODUCTION

The Dominican Republic has been the fastest-growing economy in the region since 2014. With a population of 10.8 million inhabitants and a GDP of $85.5 billion USD, it is the tenth largest economy in Latin America and the largest in the Caribbean region.

The Dominican economy, formerly dependent on the export of agricultural commodities, mainly sugar, cocoa and coffee, has transitioned successfully in the last decades to a well-diversified mix mainly comprised of services, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, real estate and trade. The service sector accounts for almost 60% of GDP and includes the tourism, telecommunications and finance industries. This year, the country experienced continued dynamic growth within key economic sectors, including construction, agriculture, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, transportation and local manufacturing, with inflation holding relatively steady from previous years.

International trade has also been growing increasingly each year between the country and its most important trading partners: The United States, China, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Brazil, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Jamaica and Cuba.

According to the International Monetary Fund, growth in the Dominican Republic in 2019 is projected to close at 5.0%, increasing to 5.2% in 2020.

A COUNTRY IN CONSTANT TRANSFORMATION

The country has taken important steps to ensure that education, business, and the legal environment continue to improve and rise up to meet global standards.

  • The recently amended securities market law and its regulations, approved by the National Stock Market Council this year, will have a great impact in the strengthening of corporate governance and operational transparency.
  • One of the most important laws recently enacted was the anti-illegal trade, smuggling and counterfeiting of regulated products law. This law reinforces the system and strengthens the mechanisms that prevent the smuggling of merchandise through customs and the consequent tax evasion that this generates. Its scope includes counterfeiting and smuggling of regulated products such as medicines, hydrocarbons, alcohol, tobacco and its derivatives.
  • Important bills currently under review by the National Congress include the Public-Private Partnerships law, which will serve as an important framework to boost relations between investors and the different government Ministries involved in infrastructure and utilities; also, a customs law; the law of reciprocal guarantees, and guarantees on moveable assets.
  • The government has established an advanced legal framework for disaster risk management and put in place an epidemiologic surveillance system and rapid response mechanism to speed up the detection and management of sanitary risks.
  • The Criminal Justice system leaders have set a key goal to accelerate judicial processes through the “100 Days Challenge,” making it possible for thousands of cases to get solved within the first 100 days.
  • The DR has passed an insolvency law to speed up and reduce the cost of commercial restructuring and has simplified its online business registration. The country, as well, is one of the world’s top 50 economies where trading across borders is easiest.
  • The Dominican Republic made enforcing contracts easier by establishing specialized commercial court divisions and by adopting a framework for mediation and conciliation, including in commercial cases. Starting a business was also made easier by reducing the minimum capital requirement.
  • The government has doubled education spending as a percentage of GDP since 2013 and implemented a series of reforms to improve learning outcomes. The Government has also joined the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project, which provides a platform for countries to share experiences on improving human capital outcomes.
  • In 2019, The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, an insight report from the World Economic Forum, ranked the Dominican Republic as the most improved country in the North and Central America’s subregion, thanks to above-average regional and global improvement on 11 pillars, including Environmental Sustainability and Cultural Resources and Business Travel.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

During the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has sought to foster a highly receptive environment for international investors, adopting policies that minimize regulatory obstacles and provide incentives to foreign companies and individuals to bring in capital. As a result, the Dominican Republic has become the primary destination in the Caribbean for foreign investors.

The Dominican Constitution gives equal treatment under the law to foreign and local investors: foreign investors are bound by the same rules and regulations applicable to local investors and can freely hold equity in local businesses and joint ventures, and own real estate.

Legal Framework

The Foreign Investment Law eliminated all barriers formerly imposed on international investments in the Dominican Republic. Investors contributing capital to companies operating in the country are granted unlimited access to all sectors of the economy, except to those related to national security and certain sensitive industries. The government offers assistance to foreign investors through the Center for Exports

and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD), and protection by vouching for loans provided by international agencies for significant infrastructure projects in the country.

In the past, the economic areas most benefited by foreign direct investment were free zones, tourism, mining, telecommunications, financial services, agriculture and livestock. At the present time, the country promotes FDI through important incentives in the tourism, renewable energy and the film industry; general incentives for industrial innovation and competitiveness; incentives to investors in free zones, as well as special incentives for border region free zones, international financial free zones, and special incentives for logistic operators.

There are no major restrictions on foreign investment and investors can repatriate their profits and capital.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

The Dominican Republic is a member of the World Trade Organization and has received preferred treatment. The country has access to the United States through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), which was an extension of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and the Preferred Generalized System GSP. Along with the trade agreements the country has signed, it offers international investors and local producers unprecedented free-trade access to the two largest markets in the world: The European Union and the United States. Few other countries benefit from such a privileged situation.

  • The Cotonou Agreement with the European Community allows preferential access to Dominican goods without quantitative restrictions.
  • Dominican Republic and Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) was implemented by the Dominican Republic on March 1, 2007.
  • Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a free trade treaty with financing and investment aspects between the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM, an organization of Caribbean nations. The Dominican Republic entered the EPA on October 15, 2008.
  • Free Trade Agreement with CARICOM, signed in 1998 and ratified by the Dominican Republic in February 2001, this agreement involves the Dominican Republic and 20 Caribbean nations (CARICOM), and establishes free trade zones in the region along WTO guidelines. The free trade agreement between the Dominican Republic and CARICOM coexists with free trade agreement between the Caribbean nations and the European Union (EPA).
  • Free Trade Agreement with Central America came into effect in 2001. This agreement coexists with DR-CAFTA, which incorporates several of the provisions of the former. Although a regional treaty, it is in fact, a bilateral agreement between each Central American country and the Dominican Republic. The agreement provides for free trade in all products originating in the region, except those registered in a “negative list.”
  • A Partial Free Trade Agreement with Panama was implemented in 2003.

BUSINESS ENTITIES

Foreign companies may conduct business in the Dominican Republic by setting up a branch office, incorporating a local subsidiary or acquiring the shares of an existing Dominican company.

Shareholders, partners, members, officers and directors of a Dominican company do not need to be Dominican citizens or residents, except in very special circumstances.

Business Entities in the Dominican Republic

Corporations are best suited for large businesses with many shareholders where protecting minority interests is important. They are the only entities that can raise capital through public stock offerings.

Simplified Corporations are best for medium to large-sized businesses that require special shareholder provisions for corporate governance purposes. Simple Corporations cannot raise capital through public stock offerings, but are able to issue debt instruments to the public.

Limited Liability Companies are ideal for small to medium-sized businesses, and are the most commonly-used legal entity in the Dominican Republic. LLC’s cannot raise capital through public offerings.

Common vs. Preferred Shares

All companies can issue common shares and preferred shares. Preferred shares may grant the shareholder the right to a fixed dividend or a fixed percentage of profits, or both at the same time, as well as priority rights over the company capital in case of liquidation.

Shares in Foreign Currency

The value of company shares as well as its capital can be stated in foreign currency.

Formation Process

Regardless of the type of business entity, the company formation process involves five basic steps: registration of the company name; preparation and signature of company documents, such as the company bylaws or articles of incorporation; payment of the incorporation tax; registration of the company documents at the business registry and company registration at the internal revenue agency.

Annual Meetings

All Dominican companies as well as foreign ones registered to do business in the country must hold an annual shareholders’ meeting to review the company’s operation during the previous year. Minutes of this meeting must be recorded at the Business Registry.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Dominican company law contemplates different business combinations allowing companies to gain control over one another. Mergers and acquisitions are freely negotiated and carried out by the companies involved, except in case of public corporations or companies in certain regulated industries, such as electricity, telecommunications, banking, and insurance, in which it is mandatory to have the merger or acquisition approved by the pertinent regulatory agency.

Joint Ventures

Joint ventures in the Dominican Republic generally consist of a contractual arrangement between two or more existing business entities for the purpose of carrying out a particular project or task. The joint venture itself is not a legal person nor enjoys limited liability unless a new business entity is formed according to Dominican company law.

TAXATION

The main taxes affecting businesses in the Dominican Republic are income tax; capital gains tax; goods and services tax; excise tax; real estate tax and tax on company assets.

Withholdings at the source

The following disbursements made by companies are subject to withholdings: payment to employees; payments abroad; dividends; rentals; fees for services and commissions.

Anti-Avoidance Rule

Based on the substance over form doctrine, the Dominican Tax Code has a general anti avoidance provision through which the Dominican Internal Revenue Service (DGII) may ignore the existence of legal entities or certain transactions if used to secure an unwarranted tax advantage.

Transfer Pricing Rules

The Dominican Republic has established transfer pricing rules modeled on guidelines issued by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

These rules will apply when a resident company or individual enters into a commercial or financial operation with a related company, or companies or individuals that are domiciled in States or Territories with preferential tax systems (low or zero taxation) or blacklisted jurisdictions, regardless of whether they are related or not. Companies must file with the DGII an annual information return on transactions subject to transfer pricing

Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States and Dominican Republic’s DGII have an agreement to exchange bilateral financial and tax information as part of the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of 2010. The Dominican Republic and the United States have reached a reciprocal intergovernmental agreement (IGA) by which Dominican financial institutions report all FATCA-related information to DGII, which then report it to the IRS and vice versa.

Double Taxation Treaties

The Dominican Republic has signed and ratified two double taxation treaties: with Canada and Spain. The treaty with Canada only covers income taxes. The treaty with Spain deals with income and capital gains taxes only.

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

Legislation

Labor relationships in the Dominican Republic are governed by the Dominican Labor Code (Law 16-92), which is characterized by its strong protection of the rights of employees.

Dominican labor laws are territorial in nature. Any work carried out on Dominican soil is subject to the provisions of the Dominican Labor Code irrespective of the nationality or residence of the parties involved.

Dominican labor laws are mandatory to the parties in an employment contract and employees cannot waive any rights that would lessen their benefits under the Labor Code. Any such waiver is automatically considered null and void.

Employee Nationality

At least 80% of a company’s work force must be Dominican. Likewise, no less than 80% of the payroll, with the exception of salaries for technical or executive positions, must correspond to wages earned by Dominicans. These rules do not apply to employees carrying out executive or managerial duties, or occupying technical positions for which there is no available Dominican substitute.

Wages

Wages are freely negotiated between the employer and the employee but cannot be less than the minimum salary established by the National Salary Committee, a dependency of the Ministry of Labor, and vary according to business size or industry type. Gratuities or tips are not considered part of the salary.

Christmas Salary

In addition to a regular salary, every employee in the Dominican Republic receives, on or before December 20, a “Christmas salary,” equal to one-twelfth (1/12) of the total regular salary earned during the year excluding tips, overtime and benefits received from profit sharing. The Christmas salary is exempt from income tax.

Profit Sharing

Employers must share 10% of their annual pretax profits, if any, with their employees. If the company is profitable, payment to the employees must be made within a 90 to 120-day period after the end of the company’s fiscal year. Businesses in free trade zones, and agricultural, industrial, forestry and mining companies during the first three years of operation, do not have to share profits with their employees.

Termination

Termination implies a permanent break in the employment contract. Several types of termination are contemplated under the Dominican Labor Code. The most common being at will termination (desahucio); for cause termination by the employer (despido); for cause termination by the employee (dimisión); and termination due to incapacity or death of the employee.

Maternity protection

The Labor Code provides special protection for employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth. At will termination by the employer is strictly forbidden during the pregnancy of the employee and up to three months after the birth of her child. For-cause termination during a pregnancy nor within the six months following childbirth is allowed without the prior authorization of the labor authorities. Noncompliance is penalized with the equivalent of five months’ salary, in addition to the standard severance payment.

Withholdings by the Employer

Employers must deduct Income tax and Social Security from the wages of their employees and disburse them to the government within the first three days of the month following that in which wages were paid. The Dominican Social Security system contemplates three types of assistance: health insurance, occupational risk insurance and incapacity or retirement fund. The system is funded by a percentage of employees’ salaries made by both employee and employer contributions in established proportions.

Relocation of Foreign Workers

Depending on the time period an employee will be working in the Dominican Republic, companies wishing to relocate them to the country are required to obtain a temporary residency for work purposes which is renewable and issued for a one-year period, or a short-stay permit, granted for periods ranging from two to eleven months.

 

 

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