BVC Feb 2016 - page 23

Business View Caribbean - February 2016 23
Also, we are addressing energy - one of our most chal-
lenging hurdles in economic development - with a com-
plete restructuring process that will incorporate addi-
tional sources of energy production, and will translate
into savings and a more reliable system for our people.
The fact that we are seeing progress at the negotiating
table is a clear sign of our commitment to reform and
to be more effective. This represents an invaluable op-
portunity to collaborate and for strategic alliances in
the region.
Our geographical location is our most prized posses-
sion. We are all unique but at the same time, just by
being neighbor countries in this strategic, geographi-
cal location called the Caribbean, we are in some ways
perceived as the same. Perception is reality, and we
should all take it as a huge opportunity. No matter
how you place the map, all the Caribbean countries
will appear at the center of the Americas. Center is a
powerful word and we must use it to our advantage
with carefully designed business collaborations to be-
come the world’s center for the new economy. As such,
we can be the focal point where forward thinkers of
all matters and expertise coincide to exchange knowl-
edge and create ideas.
We have invested time and energy over the last three
years to restart key sectors of the economy that hold
tremendous potential to generate growth. With the
right legislation and leadership we partnered with
the likes of Lufthansa, Honeywell, PricewaterhouseC-
oopers, Santander, and other well-established inves-
tors who decided to break ground in the island to do
business much beyond the short term. They are world
leaders in technology, real estate, and finance. They
did it because they are convinced that Puerto Rico rep-
resents a sound investment.
The unemployment rate has gone down to from 16.5
percent to 11.4 percent, the lowest for this time of
year since 2008; retail sales have had a steady in-
crease over the past years and will reach a projected
$39.5 billion by the end of the year; and we are finally
closing the gap between revenue and expenditure.
Key sectors are flourishing: aerospace, bio-pharma,
live sciences, technology, tourism, agriculture, re-
search, finances, insurance, and film, among others.
Investors and companies of grand international stat-
ure have taken advantage of a four percent corporate
tax rate. We have designed a highly competitive set of
laws that have resulted in alluring foreign capital to
stimulate the local economy. By virtue of our unique
commonwealth relationship with the United States,
Puerto Rico enjoys fiscal autonomy, which means that
it can offer very attractive tax incentives not available
elsewhere in the U.S. Yet, all federal laws apply to
Puerto Rico and companies can enjoy the benefits and
protection of operating within a U.S. jurisdiction, with
the benefit of doing so under a foreign tax structure.
But that is not all. The bilingual and bicultural nature
of its people, have placed Puerto Rico as one of the
most competitive business destinations in the world.
We have the necessary transportation infrastructure:
a port that ranks at #10 in container movement in the
United States; an international airport that handles
thousands of direct flights to all major cities; and a
communication infrastructure to host any type of glo-
balized business venture. We offer legal and financial
safeguards to support the most complex operations
and we have a highly specialized and highly experi-
enced workforce capable of handling the most elabo-
rate projects.
Puerto Rico offers the lowest operational costs of any
jurisdiction in North America, making it the perfect
bridge to access a potential market of 500 million
people. We are the ideal venue for holding commercial
and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Spanish-
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