For foreign investors looking to enter Latin America and the Caribbean, doing business in Puerto Rico can offer something of a “best of both worlds” in terms of providing many of the benefits that come with a commercial launch in the region, while retaining some of the advantages that investors enjoy at home.
That is because while Puerto Rico retains many of the cultural and economic features commonly associated with Latin America and the Caribbean, its status as a US territory and the strong ties it has with the United States can be favourable to foreign investors, particularly those from the US mainland and Canada, or other English-speaking countries.
Located in the Caribbean, among the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico registered a population of 3.19 million in 2019, as well as a gross domestic product (GDP) of $104.99 billion. That gave the island territory a gross national income (GNI) of $21,970 — one of the highest in the region, which would place Puerto Rico as a high-income nation by international standards were it independent.
The Puerto Rican economy is characterized by significant manufacturing activity, with industry accounting for more than 50% of GDP in 2018, while the services sector accounted for most of the rest, with agriculture generating less than 1%.
That economic division is reflected in the territory’s trade profile, with pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, computers, and garments some of the key export goods produced in Puerto Rico, along with fish and rum. In 2018, the total value of exports reached an impressive $60.57 billion.
The vast majority of Puerto Rico’s foreign trade is with the mainland United States, but US participation in a range of free trade agreements, offers businesses based in Puerto Rico preferential access to a large number of markets around the region. Nevertheless, the economy relies heavily on the United States, and receives several forms of federal economic aid.
Puerto Rico has seen a significant increase in interest from international investors over recent years, accompanied by a rise in foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly from the likes of Canada, Germany, Mexico, and Spain. The most popular sectors for investment include the telecommunications industry, software and IT services, food and beverages, and manufacturing.
If you are interested in entering Latin America and the Caribbean, read on to learn about five great reason why doing business in Puerto Rico could be your ideal choice, as well as how hiring through a PEO in Puerto Rico could be a good option. Or reach out to us now to discuss your commercial options.
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5 Reasons for doing business in Puerto Rico
- US territory
Its status as a US territory provides a number of advantages for doing business in Puerto Rico, beyond the simple fact that having the US dollar as its official currency means significant savings on transferring capital into and out of the country for investors based in the US, or who do significant business in dollars.
Because being a US territory also means official processes are often based on US systems, meaning significantly less red tape than some other countries in the region. While manufacturers benefit from being able to label their goods as “Made in the USA.”
- Tax benefits
Doing business in Puerto Rico brings with it a range of tax benefits that makes it enticing to investors, including a 4% income tax rate, a 100% tax exemption on distributions from earnings and profits, and a 90% exemption from personal property taxes for some types of businesses.
That makes many goods and services significantly cheaper than they are in the United States or elsewhere, while effectively providing some of the benefits investors seek from a tax haven, while remaining on US soil.
- Prime location
Situated between the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico’s prime location sees it enjoy easy access to markets throughout the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Meanwhile, its strong ties with the United States means that regular flights connect capital San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to a range of major US cities, with direct flights to Miami lasting less than three hours.
- Good infrastructure
Being a US territory, Puerto Rico benefits from considerably better infrastructure than many Latin American countries, with well developed highways, schools, hospitals, and public services.
Moreover, because of the well-established industrial base, the island counts on infrastructure in support of the import/export economy, with international trade mainly channeled through San Juan’s large container port.
- Significant opportunities
As well as having a well-established industrial base that is primed for investment, Puerto Rico also boasts a strong startup ecosystem, with the island becoming a hub for innovation over recent years.
Bolstering that ecosystem is a program called Startup 18, an accelerator based in San Juan that has already raised more than $126 million in investment and boosted more than 200 companies since being founded in 2015.
Hiring via a professional employer organization
If you are interested in doing business in Puerto Rico but are only planning a short-term or limited-scale operation, you may find hiring via a professional employer organization (PEO) in Puerto Rico to be your best option.
Because a PEO in Puerto Rico will be able to find and hire staff on your behalf, while guaranteeing compliance with all local laws, providing you with workers in only the time it takes to find them, and giving you the opportunity to get to know the market better ahead of a potential deeper investment.
So while you maintain control over the workloads and schedules of all of those outsourced employees, you will be able to avoid company formation in Puerto Rico, leaving the PEO firm to manage your payroll and handle all related admin.
Biz Latin Hub can help you doing business in Puerto Rico
At Biz Latin Hub, our multilingual team of company formation specialists is equipped to help you doing business in Puerto Rico. With our complete portfolio of back-office solutions, including legal, accounting, and hiring & PEO services, we can be your single point of contact for entering the market and operating in Puerto Rico, or any of the 17 countries around Latin America and the Caribbean where we are present.
Contact us now to get a free quote.
Or learn more about our team and expert authors.
The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.