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Puerto Rico takes Houston market by storm
Commerce & Export Co. organizes multisector fair to encourage Texas city to buy island products and services
BY JOSE JULIO BALMACEDA of Caribbean Business
June 10, 2005
Island businesses will be exposed to some $500 million that Houston, the powerful Texas city, allocates annually to the purchase of products and services.
This "red carpet" is cast by the government of Puerto Rico in the form of the first Multisector Fair of Puerto Rican products before the Houston market, to be held Aug. 17 to 20. Interested local businesses have until June 17 to sign up for the event.
"Puerto Rico already figures in the top-20 commercial partners of the Port of Houston. This new initiative carves out additional avenues for growth of island businesses, especially in the markets of the Southwest U.S.," Ricardo Rivera Cardona, executive director of the Puerto Rico Commerce & Export Co. (CCEPR, by its Spanish acronym), the entity organizing the event, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.
"As is already known, Houston and its environs compound an important medical and clinical center and represent for Puerto Rico businesses, among other opportunities, a great window in the area of technology, including Spanish-language software," Adrián Muñiz, director of International Marketing, added.
"Until now, Puerto Rico exports to Houston primarily have been focused on pharmaceutical products and materials manufactured by heavy machinery. This initiative, however, allows us to greatly diversify our offerings, including the potential export of engineering, accounting, and publicity services. Various industrial sectors have expressed export interests, such as companies that produce commercial paper products and educational materials, coffee, medical devices, beverages, and gourmet foods," Rivera Cardona explained.
The considerable amount of business the food & beverage sector brings to the island is noteworthy, with sales to the tune of $5.2 billion in 2004 ($3 billion of that in exports). Also significant is the volume of international business transactions the medical-device sector generates, with $3.9 billion in sales last year (with exports accounting for $2.6 billion).
"In the midterm, this initiative will bring substantial benefits. For example, the suppliers who will accompany us will receive special training to be certified in the Houston market, with the express purpose of learning how to engage in fast-track transactions. There is a great preference for small and midsize business over there, and almost 20% of the citys budget, which stands at about $3 billion, is dedicated to the purchase of products and services," Muñiz said.
"Nonetheless, while this may be the window, after that, comes the whole house. At the moment, we are looking at markets in the U.S. with a strong Hispanic makeup such as Texas [whose population exceeds 11 million, 150,000 of whom are Puerto Rican], Chicago, New York, and Florida [the state with the largest Hispanic population growth]. However, we arent giving up on the possibility of moving toward other regions such as California," Rivera Cardona maintained.
"Yet, we have other objectives in the Caribbean, a natural market for us, which has served as a proving ground for Puerto Rico businesses, a market we, nevertheless, have neglected quite a bit. Along this line of strategies, and within a regional context, we also are focusing our efforts in all those countries where the U.S. already has negotiated, or is negotiating, free-trade agreements," CCEPRs executive director concluded.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.