Puerto Rico Trade and Export Co. Executive Director Francisco Chévere recently met with representatives from several federal agencies in Washington, D.C. to secure technical assistance to boost exports of local goods and services, the agency announced.
Meetings with Michael Masserman, executive director of Policy, Export Promotion Strategy for the U.S. Department of Commerce, and William Ramos, director of the agency’s Intergovernmental Affairs division and member of the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, resulted in establishing initial cooperation efforts to insert Puerto Rico in President Barack Obama’s international trade and export promotion initiative. The government officials also established the necessary coordination among the 20 federal agencies involved in these efforts.
Federal officials also agreed to help Puerto Rico Trade in identifying greater business opportunities for island exporting companies, as well as provide input and contacts for business intelligence missions conducted by the agency.
Since February 2013, Puerto Rico Trade has sponsored a number of commercial missions that have resulted in $22 million in projected sales for the coming year. The agency plans to conduct missions to Peru, Spain, Guatemala and the Caribbean in 2014.
During the meetings, Chévere also expanded on the results of the EXPO Puerto Rico commercial fair that took place last month, saying this will become an annual event to help increase exports and pave the way for reaching the goal of converting the island into a business hub for the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as a facilitator for the U.S. market.
In a meeting with Rebecca Rosen, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Trade Representative, Chévere also discussed ways in which the agency he heads will participate in the discussion of issues related to the trade agenda, in relation to future free trade agreements between the United States and other countries, particularly on how they may affect Puerto Rico entrepreneurs and their business aspirations.
Other areas of discussion included the possibility of carrying out an existing collaboration and technical training agreement between local entrepreneurs and the ExIm bank, as well as identifying federal funds to help local businesses export their goods in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Chévere wrapped up his visit by submitting an application with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to identify possible trade forums and rounds of negotiations on international trade matters that Puerto Rico could host.
“With these meetings in the federal capital, Puerto Rico begins a new chapter in its trade relationship with the United States,” Chévere said. “Today we not only seek support and assistance from the federal government, but we’re stepping forward to insert ourselves in important discussions on trade, ignored for many years, and are more than willing to act proactively, identifying opportunities for mutual benefits in the short, medium and long term, to achieve sustained economic development for Puerto Rico.”