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Business leaders welcome Dominican Republic president.

New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine joined state business leaders to welcome Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, president of the Dominican Republic, at a dinner meeting celebrating an emerging relationship under CAFTA-DR.

The growing importance of the Dominican Republic as a trade and investment partner was a central theme for the event, which took place at the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City. Gualberto "Gil" Medina, executive managing director of New Jersey operations for Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. and a former state commerce secretary, organized the program working with Joan Verplanck, president of the N.J. Chamber of Commerce, and William Healey, executive vice president of the HealthCare Institute of N.J.

"President Fernandez is an important leader, and he is making great strides in expanding trade relations with the United States," Medina noted. "When his representatives approached us, Cushman & Wakefield embraced the opportunity to support the state's effort to strengthen its ties with the Dominican Republic and, ultimately, its position as a center of trade and investment."

"It is important for New Jersey to support trade relationships like this around the globe," Governor Corzine noted. "We are a crossroads state with ports, transportation infrastructure and a strong export industry that is easily integrated into the global economy." "Cushman & Wakefield relies a great deal on free trade," said Bruce Mosler, president and chief executive officer of Cushman & Wakefield, who introduced Governor Corzine and President Fernandez at the reception.

"The economic development vision of leaders like President Fernandez and Governor Corzine enables us to provide clients the opportunity, resources and best-of-class expertise to support their success all over the world."

President Fernandez, who is currently in his second term as the elected president of the Dominican Republic, traced the history of the country's relationship with the U.S. and its evolution from an agricultural economy to a service economy focused on tourism and free trade zones. "We are seeking sustainable development in our country and working to strengthen democratic processes," he said. "In order to become a beacon of hope, we need friends, and we are in New Jersey to advance what we are confident will become a mutually beneficial relationship."

President Fernandez is seeking to expand the benefits of CAFTA-DR, which will allow for the free flow of goods and services in the free trade area. "We are committed to improving the lives of those living in the Dominican Republic and Dominicans living abroad."

CAFTA-DR is a recently enacted, comprehensive trade agreement between the United States, the Dominican Republic and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In 2005, export trade from New Jersey to the other CAFTA-DR members was approximately $225 million. Exports to the Dominican Republic accounted for more than 41 percent of this total *.

"Our close ties with the Dominican Republic will help grow the state's economy by providing more opportunities for our companies in the global marketplace," said Anne Estabrook, former chairman of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce. "The days of only selling products locally are over. In order for our companies to compete and thrive, they need to be looking to countries such as the Dominican Republic as trade partners."

According to Healey, New Jersey's partnership with the Dominican Republic will go beyond trade to also focus on quality of life. "New Jersey is critical to the improvement of worldwide health care through its leadership in the life sciences," he said.

* Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration web site, http://trade.gov.
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Title Annotation:NEW JERSEY
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 11, 2006
Words:589
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