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Application For San Juan Officially Submitted
Puerto Rico Export Council Forwards 55-Page Document To The Free Trade Area Of The Americas Co-Chairmen
By JOHN COLLINS
March 4, 2004
SAN JUAN, Puerto RicoSan Juan, Puerto Rico has officially applied to host the permanent secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA, or ALCA by its Spanish acronym), announced Jose Gonzalez Freyre, chairman of San Juan ALCA 2005.
The document, obtained by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS, was forwarded by the March 1 deadline to ambassadors Peter F. Allgeier of the U.S. and Adhemar G. Bahadian of Brazil, as co-chairmen of the current ministerial round of the FTAA negotiations, said Gonzalez, who is also the secretary of the Puerto Rico Export Council (PREC). He initiated the process in Miami last November on behalf of San Juan.
"All of the cities that are candidates have much to offer," said Gonzalez, quoting the executive summary of the document. "They are all great cities. However, only one can offer what we firmly believe is the most important need for the hometown of the secretariatNEUTRALITYthis city has a name and it is SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO."
Indicating that their decision to locate the secretariat in San Juan "would be a milestone in our history," the application continues "this great honor would forever leave a positive impact on our economy, our culture and our political development. The people of Puerto Rico will be forever grateful for this great honor."
Describing the competition among the 11 bidding cities as "very close," the document states that only San Juan "holds key and unique elements that are highly valuable for the secretariat."
Why San Juan?
Five elements are cited in the document:
What San Juan offers
The reasons for San Juan to be the location are summarized as:
The document contains details highlighting each of these features. At the end, it also refers to "other initiatives" being considered, such as granting excise-tax exemption on all equipment, materials, and official vehicles needed to set up the secretariat; granting tax exemption on income generated by foreign personnel working here; hotel room tax exemption for all government personnel on official secretariat business; 50% reduction on enrollment fees at the University of Puerto Rico for secretariat officers; establishing special school curricula for children of secretariat officers; and assigning police escorts for officers and adopting other special security measures for the secretariat and its environs.
The initiative of the San Juan ALCA Committee has been embraced by San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini and Gov. Sila Calderon, who finally announced her endorsement last week.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.