efe-epaSanto Domingo

The economy of the Dominican Republic grew by an annualized 7.2 percent in November and ended the year expanding by 7 percent overall, the governor of the Central Bank (BCRD), Hector Valdez Albizu, announced Thursday, adding that authorities expect inflation to total 1.3 percent in 2018, significantly below the established 4 percent maximum.

At a press conference, Valdez Albizu said that the economy "continues growing above its potential, maintaining the (Dominican Republic's) regional leadership (status) in all of Latin America."

The sectors that contributed most to the positive economic performance were communications (which grew by 11 percent), construction (10.6 pct.), free trade zones (9.1 pct.), healthcare (8.8 pct.), trade (8.5 pct.), financial services (7.9 pct.), agriculture and fishing (6.5 pct.) and transport and storage (6.5 pct.)

In addition, local manufacturing grew by 6 pct., energy and water by 5.7 pct. and hotels, bars and restaurants by 5.6 pct., among others.

Regarding hotel and restaurant activities, he said that the increase was due mainly to the sustained arrival of non-resident visitors, with tourism rising by 6.3 percent between January and November.

Valdez Albizu said that the year will end with some 6.5 million tourists having visited the Dominican Republic, spending some $7.6 billion, an increase of 6 percent over last year.

Also during 2018, remittances rose to slightly over $6.5 billion, an increase of 10.4 percent.

The BCRD official said that unemployment stands at about 5.6 percent, according to available figures, well below the average 8.4 percent for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the International Labor Organization.

Exports totaled $11.05 billion, an increase of 9.2 percent over 2017, while imports totaled $20.3 billion, a rise of 14.9 percent.

The central bank chief said that direct foreign investment totaled $2.5 billion in 2018, in keeping with the average of the last eight years.