The recent positive assessment of the Puerto Rico pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing ecosystem by a federal delegation confirms there is a great opportunity for growth in this important industrial sector on our island. Significant investment in this area can give a strong boost to Puerto Rico’s economic recovery while also benefiting the United States.
We hope the experience of the delegation headed by the White House Special Representative for Puerto Rico’s Disaster Recovery, Rear Admiral Peter Brown will lead the efforts to convince Congress to include the island in legislation that would grant incentives, such as investment tax credits and wage credits, to companies that relocate in economically depressed areas in U.S. jurisdictions.
A bill by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González provides for priority investment in sectors with populations below the poverty level. If approved, the measure would contribute to the creation of well-paying technical and professional jobs on the island.
The diversity of production facilities in excellent conditions, as well as highly regulated operations of the pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturing industry, favor the climate for the expansion of these industrial activities in Puerto Rico. These are specialized products in high demand given the complications of the international market due to the threat of COVID-19.
In this situation, the local government, the private sector, and other groups with influence in Washington must advance those initiatives that will move the island to become a world-class hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing. For decades, the island has demonstrated its strength in this field by, among others, having highly skilled human resources.
The visit allowed the delegation to see first hand the excellence of our professionals and specialized technical staff while confirming that some companies have the capacity to increase production in the short term and structures available to reactivate the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices that are extremely necessary to fight the spread of the virus.
Documents on the extensive pharmaceutical experience on the island, provided by the business sector, is in line with the federal public policy that promotes the purchase of biomedical products from US jurisdictions, rather than from Asia or other regions.
For Puerto Rico, strengthening this manufacturing sector would also represent an opportunity for growth or development for other related companies. For example, there would be room for the development of industrial maintenance companies, production of medical packaging, and production and printing of labels and brochures on the details and uses of each drug, vaccine, device.
An important part of encouraging large-scale industrial investment is that plans to strengthen the island’s critical infrastructure, including transforming the power grid with cost-effective and renewable sources, continue at a steady pace.
The experience with the federal delegation also shows a dynamic that the local government must replicate in other sectors with great development potential. It is important that the delegation’s good impression and the commitment expressed by President Donald Trump’s trade advisor, Peter Navarro, translate into concrete actions to increase the production and export of medicines and health equipment from Puerto Rico to the United States.
It should also be noted that academic scientific research centers on the island work in partnership with world-renowned universities and companies. These are additional values that the political and investment sectors evaluating the industrial advantages in Puerto Rico should take into consideration.
Pharmaceutical and medical investment can become a great ally for the recovery of our island, while significantly contributing, here, in the United States and in other countries, in the fight to defeat the COVID-19 and other health challenges.