The first Sub-Regional Workshop on Special Customs Zones /Free Zones takes place in the Dominican Republic

05 September 2018

The World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a Sub-Regional Workshop on Special Customs Zones /Free Zones (SCZs) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from 30 to 31 August 2018.  The Workshop was hosted by the Customs Administration of the Dominican Republic (DGA: Dirección General de Aduanas), with the financial support of the Japan Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF Japan).

The representatives of the Argentinean and Guatemalan Customs along with the colleagues from the Dominican Republic, as well as the wide range of public and private stakeholders of the free zones, notably the Dominican Free Zones Association (ADOZONA), the National Council of Export Processing Zones (CNZFE), the Dominican Logistic Center Association, and Las Americas Industrial Free Zone (AZFA) participated in the event.

The Workshop aimed to learn about the strategic and operational aspects related to the management of the SCZs, including the modes of cooperation with the private sector.

During his opening remarks, the Director General of the DGA, Mr. Enrique Ramirez stressed the importance of this topic for the Customs administrations and thanked the WCO for organizing this Workshop in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Jose Benedict Hernandez, the Deputy Director of Free Zones in the DGA also emphasized the necessity of the cooperation between Customs and the private sector for the sustainable development of the SCZs.

The Dominican Republic has benefitted from the SCZs regime for over 50 years and now operates 71 SCZs. The stakeholders shared the history and the development of the SCZs in the Dominican Republic, as well as the economic benefits of the SCZs such as promoting jobs and contributing economic growth.  Some logistic operators of the SCZs shared their experience on business operations in the SCZs and challenges related to the Customs procedures and controls.

The DGA explained that the establishment of the special department within DGA dedicated to the SCZs has significantly contributed to its operations.  Participants from Guatemala Customs and Argentina Customs also shared their practices in this domain.

During the Workshop, two field visits to DP World Caucedo Logistics Center and Las Americas Free Zone took place. These field visits allowed participants to better understand the dynamics, diversity and complexity of the business operations in the SCZs.

In the conclusion of the Workshop, the participants raised several important points that need to be addressed in the future: the importance of the definition of the SCZs in the national legislation in order to provide adequate Customs controls and supervision; the necessity of strengthening cooperation with the private sector especially logistic operators in the SCZs; digitalization of Customs procedures and use of modern inspections technologies such as GPS seals and container scanners; and the need of awareness raising on the role of Customs in SCZs.