In an effort to boost awareness about investment opportunities in Puerto Rico, the Economic Development and Commerce Department and the Venezuelan Association of Entrepreneurs, Executives and Professionals presented before a large group of Venezuelan executives the “Puerto Rico: Investment Opportunities” seminar, focusing on the manufacturing and banking sectors as those with the greatest economic potential.
“Puerto Rico offers many advantages for investing because it is part of the United States’ political, economic, financial and legal system, where state and federal laws apply,” said Economist Gustavo Vélez, one of the speakers along with EDC Deputy Secretary Luis Rodríguez.
“It also has fiscal autonomy, is a no-risk country, has a more favorable tax environment that the United States, island residents do not pay federal taxes and, most importantly, Puerto Rico has the largest Gross Domestic Product per capita in Latin America, at $24,229,” Vélez said.
During the seminar, Vélez further explained that the island has one of the most open economies in the world and foreign trade of $100 billion annually, has a financial system with $170 billion in assets, has a large bilingual population and a strategic geographical position, close to Venezuela, to which it is joined through a tradition of more than 125 years of bilateral trade.
The economist also explained that while manufacturing represents 44 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP, the banking industry’s strength lies in its assets, its players — eight commercial banks and scores of other financial institutions — and its local and federal regulatory frameworks, which “guarantee transparency and stability.”
With regard to laws facilitating foreign investment, EDC Secretary José Pérez-Riera mentioned Law 20 of 2012, which provides a preferential tax rate of 4 percent for businesses that export services from Puerto Rico and 100 percent exemption on dividends.
“These rates compare very favorably with many other jurisdictions that have much higher rates. This gives us a competitive advantage in attracting investors to Puerto Rico, which soon will discover other benefits of being on the island, such as the ease of doing business, the stability of our legal system, low operating costs and the high quality of our workforce, which is our most attractive asset,” Pérez-Riera said.
The Venezuelan organization known as AVEP brings together entrepreneurs, executives and professionals from the Latin American nation that reside on the island, and represents them before the Puerto Rican community and the business and government sectors in the U.S. and the Caribbean region.
“In AVEP we offer new business opportunities and concrete solutions for the island’s economic development, facilitating direct contact with Venezuelan businessmen to attract investments to Puerto Rico,” said Alfredo Soto, group president.