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Roundtable discussion explores the economic outlook for Puerto Rico during and after the pandemic

April 28, 2020
  • Although panelists foresee great changes in market behavior post-COVID-19, they also see opportunities
  • The event, held remotely with various local and international experts, was presented by Invest Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico – In the face of the global pandemic that continues to cause uncertainty around the world, a group of economic development experts participated in a roundtable discussion on the economic outlook for Puerto Rico during and after COVID-19. Titled “Building Upon Resilience,” the virtual event brought together local and international panelists to explore efforts focused on fostering the island’s economic development and strengthening its competitiveness in the global forum.

Presented by Invest Puerto Rico, the roundtable event served as a scene to learn more about InvestPR’s role in advancing stability and economic growth on the island, as well as showcasing the perspectives of the local and federal government on the implications of COVID-19. The conversation also highlighted how InvestPR and related entities are collaborating to improve Puerto Rico’s competitiveness to create jobs and attract more investment.

According to Rodrick Miller, CEO of InvestPR, “we remain firm in our commitment to make way for a local economy that is sustainable, inclusive, and competitive. The pandemic is a phenomenon that alters global and local economic prospects. One of the priorities laid out in our existing promotion plan, was to monitor the market for radical changes that require adapting the strategy in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities. The moment we are living is a clear example of disruption that requires us to shift to respond to the crisis and approaching needs in the global market. This event confirmed that, despite the trials of the pandemic and other factors, Puerto Rico remains more resilient than ever and that behind the challenges lie opportunities to continue improving and growing.”

Event panelists included Miller; Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC for its Spanish acronym), Manuel Laboy; from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), Chelsea Amelia Cruz, Associate Director, and Jason Bram, Research Officer; Matt Mullin, Vice President for Policy, Programs and Communications of the International Economic Development Council; and moderating, Ella Woger, COO of InvestPR.

Core discussion points

Throughout the roundtable event, the panelists shared data and forecasts about the short- and long-term future for Puerto Rico and the global economy. Locally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects a 6.0% decrease in Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product for the remainder of 2020, with a slight increase of 1.5% in 2021. This forecast reflects what is also expected for the United States (5.9% and 4.7%, respectively).

“All global forecasts point to a dramatic reduction in overall economic opportunity as a result of the coronavirus. The impact in Puerto Rico for 2020 will reflect that of the United States due to the interrelation of the two economies: the outlook is less dramatic than in the Eurozone, and similar to the rest of LATAM and the Caribbean. In the long-term, Puerto Rico’s prospects for 2021 are lower due to the underlying economic challenges and dependence on federal transfers and incentives,” said Miller.

All panelists agreed that, both locally and globally, the pandemic will cause people to reconsider existing values and impact economic models in the future, as health and health safety will become the most important global problem in the coming months and years, impacting insurance business models, telemedicine and pharmaceutical supply chains.

“There will be a rethinking about how much a country wants to depend on any other country, so possible protectionist trade policies could emerge. Also, the remote working protocols established during the crisis are likely to be extended long after the crisis has ended. The truth is that long-term interruption in commercial operations will cause many companies to reconsider capital spending models,” Bram noted.

The road ahead

Given the circumstances, Invest Puerto remains on track in its promotional plan for the island as an investment destination, identifying growth opportunities even with the emergency and executing the following strategies:

  • Underscore the message of Puerto Rico’s resilience throughout all strategy and promotion efforts
  • Position Puerto Rico as a solution to address pharma supply chain challenges
  • Continue to target knowledge service sectors highlighting Puerto Rico’s competitive assets
  • Position Puerto Rico as an optimal destination for remote work
  • Build Puerto Rico’s economic development capacity to ensure greater deal flow, more conversions to transactions, and more efficient processes
  • Position Puerto Rico as a hub of talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity through talent development, retention, and attraction

“Building Upon Resilience” is one of several initiatives that Invest Puerto Rico is undertaking, while in compliance with social distancing protocols, to promote the island as an ideal investment jurisdiction, with the goal of accelerating economic development. The organization recently created the online platform PuertoRicoSigue.org, a resource that offers information on business continuity for the benefit of companies of all sizes operating on the island.

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