MADRID – Puerto Rico has offered itself to international entrepreneurs as a gateway to the U.S. market which, in the case of Latin Americans, enables them to do business in Spanish with the knowledge of U.S. culture.
The remark was made Thursday by Puerto Rican Economic Development Secretary Alberto Baco Bague, who is accompanying Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla at the plenary meeting of the Latin American Business Council in Madrid.
It is the first time companies from Puerto Rico participate in the meeting, which has been held for the past 25 years.
In an interview with Efe, Baco Bague said his country is focused on promoting the entry of small and middle-sized enterprises through the advantages it poses.
One of them is Puerto Rico’s ability to be a gateway to the United States, with the particularity that it allows access to certain capital funds.
In addition, U.S. laws on patents and intellectual property apply in Puerto Rico, there are talented bilingual engineers in various fields, possible tax exemptions and, above all, a huge consumer market, he said.
The preferred areas of investment include the aviation industry, bio-agriculture, pharmaceuticals, health tourism and certain crops like coffee, cocoa and sugar cane.
Baco Bague stressed that all these activities follow U.S. standards but at a lower cost, adding that Governor Garcia Padilla has undertaken economic reforms aimed at reducing public debt, balancing income and expenses, and extending retirement age.
“We have been dragging old problems of the past fifteen years. The debt problem was inherited, but we had to solve it,” he said.
Recently the Electric Power Authority, a public firm that controls the electricity market in Puerto Rico, signed a $9.7 million contract with a consulting company to rescue the company, on the brink of bankruptcy.
In Spain, Baco said he was contacting medium-sized and small businesses interested in Puerto Rico.
He recalled that giants such as Banco Santander and the Mapfre insurance company had entered Puerto Rico years ago and now could be an example for smaller businesses.
“The trip (to Spain) is exceeding my expectations,” he said, and explained that the bid by many companies to use Puerto Rico as an international platform was “already bearing fruit.”
The presence of foreign businesses in the country has had a positive influence on Puerto Rican entrepreneurs, who lately had lost self-esteem, he affirmed.