Diplomatic relations between the UK and the Dominican Republic (DR) have been positive for more than 150 years, and the UK was the first country to recognise Dominican Independence. There is a British Embassy in Santo Domingo, and a Dominican Republic Embassy in London. Bilateral tourism is a strong link that the countries share, and British investment in the Dominican Republic exceeds $1 billion. This investment covers a wide range of entities and industries, and the UK is also the largest importer of Dominican fruits. With these strong historical and trade links in mind, the appointment of a new Dominican Ambassador is big news.
Dr Hugo Guiliani Cury received his credentials as Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to London from the Queen on 27th June 2019, but he actually arrived in the country at the peak of Britain’s Brexit debate, in February 2019. In this climate, his priority was to gain some certainty regarding how Brexit would impact the Dominican Republic’s agreements with the EU, and after a month he was able to sign a continuity trade agreement with the UK. This would ensure that the UK and DR would be able to continue trading with one another regardless of the future relationship between the UK and EU.
Depending on the outcome of Brexit, the Ambassador aims to keep a dialogue open to enhance the relationship between the two nations in the future, targeting a more bilateral approach. The main export from the DR to the UK is bananas, and there are various investments and bilateral tourism industries that need to be preserved beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
Hitting the ground running
It was a busy start for Ambassador Guiliani, but he has spoken of his delight at being in London, praising its vibrancy and multiculturalism. He has had a long and diverse career thus far, recognised as a skilled strategist and negotiator with a depth of experience in issues of development, economics and foreign policy. He has been an economic adviser to several DR presidents and a regular columnist for the main newspapers in the country. He has also published 15 books on foreign policy and economics and produced a weekly television show.
An esteemed and distinguished family
The Ambassador’s life is strongly influenced by his upbringing. His father was a very prominent figure in the Dominican Republic, as a lawyer, a judge and the Vice-President of the nation’s Supreme Court of Justice, along with a history of public service and representing his country at international meetings. The Ambassador and his siblings were encouraged by their parents to study Economics and Diplomacy in order to serve their country, and his aunt was Minister of Foreign Relations when the DR was invaded by US troops in 1965.
Ambassador Guiliani moved into the private sector after starting out as an economist, founding two banks. He took on several economy-based roles in government, including being Governor of the Bank of DR. He was responsible for renegotiating the country’s external debt and reaching an agreement with the IMF and played a key role in stabilising the nation’s economy after years of unrest. His strategies helped the nation achieve the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere; something which he recalls as a highlight in his career.
Ambassador Guiliani has previously acted as the DR’s Ambassador in Washington, where he negotiated a free trade deal with the USA. He has also been instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations with a number of Arab countries. It is widely believed that his experience will be extremely valuable to his work in the UK. In addition to contributing to Brexit negotiations, Ambassador Guiliani is relocating the DR embassy to help boost British tourism and investment in the Dominican Republic.
He feels the greatest diplomatic challenge his country is currently facing is looking for ways neighbouring Haiti can move forward with the building of democratic institutions and a growing economy. He also wants to improve the Dominican Republic’s image in the UK to help boost tourism further.