The delegation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was headed by Juan Carlos Suárez, Under Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce
Bogotá, Apri1 28, 2016 – In coordination with its office in Colombia, the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, presented “Making Business in Puerto Rico”, a meeting of entrepreneurs which discussed the different business and investment opportunities that the Island has to offer to the Colombia business community.
The opening remarks were made by the Under Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Juan Carlos Suárez, who highlighted Puerto Rico´s advantages as the ideal venue for impacting the economic growth of businesses in the region. In his words, this is due to factors such as “the implementation of tax incentives that have attracted foreign investment, the Island´s unique position as an entry way to the United States market, one of the largest in the world, as well as a highly qualified, bilingual and bicultural work force”.
According to the panel moderator, Colombian businessman Jorge Uribe Roldán, “ Puerto Rico has shattered the paradigm that we have had in Colombia since the Free Commerce Treaty of 2004; the entry way to the United States is not Miami, but Puerto Rico”.
Suárez added that “today Puerto Rico can offer Colombian companies a stable, safe and orderly environment in which to conduct business easily and with trust in the standards of quality and service”. He mentioned that the Island is undergoing its second big economic transformation, based on diversification and the incorporation of all sectors and industries, from the traditional ones such as manufacturing, commerce and tourism, to high impact projects such as the Loon project by Google at the site of former Roosevelt Roads Naval Base, the Las Américas Port with post-Panama capabilities, or the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust”.
The meeting of entrepreneurs also served as a platform for the promotion of Puerto Rico fiscal incentives laws, which, according to Suárez, have allowed businesses and investors to use a combination of said laws in order to obtain each law´s maximum benefit.
“Our major laws, such as law 20 for the export of services, law 22 that allows individual investors a dividend exemption of 100%; laws 273 and 399 for the establishment of international financial and insurance companies, respectively, and law 73 that gives incentives to manufacturing companies, have become a powerful magnet for investments and business in Puerto Rico”, Mr. Suárez assured.
Successful Business Stories
The meeting also included a panel discussion on Puerto Rican and Latin businesses operating in Puerto Rico. Marileny Lugo, MC-21 Senior Vice-President, Bernie Morales Ortiz, General Manager of Neolpharma, and Francisco Forero, Director of Government Relations for Google Colombia, presented their companies as cases of successful business investments in said Caribbean country.
MC-21 Senior Vice-President, Marileny Lugo, stressed that Puerto Rico was the platform from which her pharmaceutical company would enter other markets, such as the Colombia market. “What we did well in the Puerto Rico market, which comprises 66% of the Puerto Rico population, we could reproduce and adapt to the Colombia health model, where we now serve the needs of nearly 10 million Colombians”.
As another example of success, Bernie Morales Ortiz, General Manager of Neolpharma, a Mexican pharmacy group with over 15 years in the market, explained that his company made the decision to expand its operations to Puerto Rico, because, from the start, the Island offered investment guarantees for business exchanges, a qualified human capital and compliance to the fiscal incentive laws and regulations. “The logistics capacity available in Puerto Rico, its geographical location and its commercial networks have turned the Island into an important business exchange platform for access to international markets”, he added.
According to Francisco Forero, Director of Government Relations for Google Colombia, his company bet on Puerto Rico because it found an “exceptional” infrastructure there. For Google, the communications business is fertile in Puerto Rico where the people´s education is the most suitable for his business competitiveness.
“Google flourishes in countries where creativity and talent for innovation abound, as in Puerto Rico. (…) There we have the possibility to test nearly all of our products and services, because Puerto Rico is a “mini planet”, bio diverse and multicultural”, said Forero.
In the meeting closing remarks, the Director of the Puerto Rico Government Office in Colombia, Luis Alberto Álvarez, stated that the conditions in his country have changed and are demanding other visions and paradigms. “The Island is reaching out to our Latin American countries, especially Colombia, and is inviting their entrepreneurs to invest in Puerto Rico. Now is the time!”.
Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce
The Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce implements and oversees the execution of the public policies pertaining to the economic development of business sectors such as manufacturing, commerce, tourism and services. The Department also promotes a stable and sustainable private sector that takes into account the current globalization of the economy. The Department is committed to the implementation of strategies that promote investment, create jobs and improve the quality of life on the Island. It is integrated by 11 governmental entities, including agencies and public corporations, which are focused on different economic sectors.