The Dominican Government, through the activities of its permanent diplomatic mission in China, which was formally established in August 2018, has been working hand-in-hand with different institutions of the Central Government of the People's Republic of China to provide full compliance with the provisions of our respective leaders, Mr. Danilo Medina Sánchez, and Mr. Xi Jinping, to strengthen the commercial and cultural ties of our peoples.
Over the past 5 years, the Dominican Republic has established itself as the Latin American country with the highest economic growth, recording an average annual growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 6.2%. In addition, the World Bank has placed us among the 5 safest countries to do business in Latin America, which explains the fact that we are the destination of 45% of all Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) placed in the Caribbean region.
The free trade agreements we have established with the European Union, Central America, the Caribbean and the United States of America give us preferential access to 900 million consumers in 48 countries, with very advantageous tariff conditions. The strategic geographical location of the Dominican Republic, the country with the 6th best connectivity in Latin America, allows us to place products in North America, South America and Central America, in 3 days or less, while Europe is less than 10 days away, thanks to the weekly passage of 90 ships and 280 daily flights, with direct routes and services to North America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and South America, through our 12 ports and 9 international airports.
Our country's Free Zones offer a competitive platform for global companies looking to access the aforementioned markets, offering 100% tax exemption to businesses installed there. The manufacturing activity that takes place in the 74 Free Zone Parks that exist in the Dominican Republic, has made us the largest exporter of cigars in the world, as well as the largest exporter of electric switches to the United States.
In 2019, we recorded a significant increase in exports of minerals and concentrates (ferronickel, copper, zinc), medical instruments, surgical equipment, rum and iron and steel manufactures to China.
Dominican agricultural products are of premium quality, with significant presence in Europe and the United States. By 2020, we will have signed the corresponding agreements for the export of fresh Dominican Hass avocado to the People's Republic of China. In addition, we are ready to export the products derived and processed from cocoa (butter, powder and chocolate), dried fruit, juice, concentrates, handmade cigars, among others.
The Dominican Republic is also the 6th most visited destination of the Western hemisphere, making tourism one of the main pillars of the Dominican economy. This industry, which continues to show great growth potential with more than 10 million tourists annually, represents a great investment opportunity in tourism infrastructure in different regions of our country.
We see great potential in the cooperation between the Dominican Republic and the People’s Republic of China, therefore, we are excited to extend a formal invitation to all of its companies and institutions, so that you can personally experience firsthand the advantageous conditions our country has to offer for the growth and development of your businesses.