The Puerto Rico Products Association unveiled Monday its “agenda for Puerto Rico’s socio-economic prosperity,” which pursues a three-pronged strategy to promote, develop and optimize the local industry to effectively insert the island into a global and competitive economy.
To achieve that, industry participants need to base their plans on technological innovation and the capacity of their human talent, said Manuel Cidre, president of the trade group.
Under the promotion pillar, the group seeks to:
- Urge the consumption of everything “Made in Puerto Rico” and generate awareness about its contributions to the local economy;
- Support everything that is locally produced to achieve an increase in purchases and consumption of products and services; and,
- Promote tourism as a key industry to propel the economy forward.
Through its optimization component, the Products Association wants to:
- Assist local businesses to adopt global competitiveness, efficiency and productivity standards;
- Encourage the creation of permanent jobs through a 25 percent tax credit tied to their recruitment and retention efforts;
- Increase funding options for traditional and non-traditional small and medium enterprises through a local commercial loan guarantee program and optimizing what is offered by the federal government;
- Develop the capacity of local companies to export goods and services as well as their integration in foreign markets;
- Gain the approval of a tax credit to encourage exports of locally made products through the supply chain of retail and wholesale businesses operating locally;
- Promote a program that makes it feasible to export to markets with high Hispanic concentrations in the U.S. mainland;
- Procure competitive transportation costs for outbound freight;
- Create collaborative partnerships with academia, the private sector and regional development institutions to support innovation of products and services within the local industry; and,
- Reduce the operational and transactional costs of doing business in Puerto Rico, giving emphasis to energy costs, permitting and flexible work hours.
Through the development prong, the group’s mission is to:
- Increase government purchases from Puerto Rican companies from the current 5 percent to 25 percent, basing that on the possibility of creating a minimum of 16 jobs for every $1 million invested;
- Encourage the expansion of participation by the Puerto Rican industry in the local market as a major hub within Puerto Rico’s economic development program;
- Expand the program offered by the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company to enable and make available their vacant buildings either free of charge or at reduced cost to Puerto Rican companies;
- Promote modern agricultural production and food processing at an industrial scale to increase the consumption of “Made in Puerto Rico” products to more than the current 20 percent level;
- Support and make funding available to local management of manufacturing operations in danger of closing to retain them as sources of jobs and economic activity;
- Promote legislation at the federal level aimed at partially waiving the application of the Cabotage Law on transportation of raw materials for Puerto Rican industries;
- Seek a reform of Puerto Rico’s tax system to strengthen capital markets, and encourage productivity and investment by gradually phasing out the tax on inventory and equipment;
- Expand access to capital using the tools provided by Law 93 of 2013, known as the Puerto Rico Investment Company Act;
- Promote a regulatory framework to attract and encourage emerging industries in manufacturing, trade and services during their initial development and growth period.
“It is essential to ensure that a greater proportion of what we produce stays here because for every dollar we consume in products and services made in Puerto Rico, we keep more than 70 cents on the island,” Cidre said. “Substituting imports and retaining capital flow are vital to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery.”