‘Trucking’ to the Caribbean

‘Trucking’ to the Caribbean

ABF Freight System is expanding service to the Dominican Republic as trade with the Caribbean nation picks up, led by U.S. exports to free trade zones.

“We’re responding to increased demand from customers shipping to the DR under the CAFTA regional free trade agreement,” spokesman Russ Aikman said.

After faltering during the recession, U.S. exports to the island nation jumped 24 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, while imports increased 10.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s creating new opportunities for the U.S. trucker to move full and partial containers.

“The commodities that we are seeing shipped into and out of the Dominican Republic are very similar to those we currently ship into Puerto Rico,” Aikman said. “Both markets are very similar in that the demand for retail and commercial goods continues to rise as the economy continues to grow.”

CAFTA, which the Dominican Republic joined in 2007, is a factor as well. “There are 57 FTZ parks (free trade zones) in the Dominican Republic with over 600 manufacturing companies that demand every raw material imagined,” Aikman said.

Those commodities include textiles, construction and building products, metallurgical-related products, home and office furniture, hardware tools and machinery. The nation is also a staging ground for relief and reconstruction efforts in neighboring Haiti, which occupies the other half of the island of Hispaniola.

“We anticipate seeing an increase in building materials, etc., as the Haitian rebuilding efforts continue,” Aikman said.