SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Over 200 representatives from Puerto Rican and Spanish companies gathered in San Juan on Tuesday to discuss the pro-business environment in Puerto Rico, reinforcing it as an ideal “bridge” for companies interested in expanding to North American and Latin American markets, according to the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Alberto Baco-Bague.
Several executives including Román Blanco Reinosa, president and CEO of Spanish banking group Santander USA, and Antonio Huertas, president of MAPFRE, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, spoke enthusiastically about the competitive advantages of doing business in Puerto Rico.
Baco-Bague said these organizations are taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s growing international financial center and international insurance center, which are diversifying the island’s economy and driving foreign investment.
As part of its economic roadmap, Baco-Bague confirmed that Puerto Rico is on track to create upwards of 20,000 new private-sector jobs in priority industries by the end of 2014. Much of the job growth stems from new investments in technology, aerospace and tourism by international investors.
“Spain offers expertise in a diversity of industries including financial services, retail, insurance and manufacturing, which is exactly what our economic roadmap calls for,” said Baco-Bague. “Spanish investors are showing a lot of interest in Puerto Rico. Companies are drawn to the island because it is a US jurisdiction, offering competitive tax incentives, proximately to Latin American markets, protection under US law and access to a bilingual and highly educated workforce.”
The business relationship between Spain and Puerto Rico is projected to grow with the planned expansion of non-stop airline service between Puerto Rico and Spain by Air Europa. The new direct flight is expected to bring 15,000 tourists from Spain annually. The additional air links will ease operations for Spanish companies in Puerto Rico, while attracting direct foreign investment from new sectors within the Spanish economy.
Puerto Rico’s overall strategic economic initiatives are expected to directly or indirectly contribute to the creation of nearly 140,000 jobs by the end of 2017, potentially adding $11 billion to the Commonwealth’s GDP and generating $350-500 million in additional tax revenue. While interest has doubled in the last year from international investors, strategically targeting Spain investment will support the island’s industry diversification – protecting the Island’s strong manufacturing base while building a hub for financial, technology and other types of consultancy services.