Puerto Rico: Doing business and staying in touch
Doing Business in Puerto Rico
A knowledge of Spanish is very useful, although English is widely spoken; most people in the tourist industry and the greater metropolitan areas are bilingual and the country acknowledges both English and Spanish as its official languages. Lightweight suits are advised for business meetings. Many business transactions take place over lunch or dinner; while drinking is acceptable during such meetings, it should be done in moderation.
Though many Puerto Ricans love politics, the topic is best avoided during business discussions unless there is a direct bearing on the matter at hand. Due to the complicated colonial history of the island and its current status as a US commonwealth, certain aspects of politics are a sensitive issue, particularly when discussed by someone with little knowledge of the island's history.
Puerto Rico has few natural resources, although some nickel and copper have been located. Mining is not currently a source of income for the island. Manufacturing has overtaken agriculture as a source of income following intensive industrialisation, but tourism is the engine of the Puerto Rican economy.
The island's main products are pharmaceuticals, electrical and electronic equipment, processed food, textiles, clothing, rum, petrochemicals and refined oil. There is a foreign free-trade zone at Mayagüez. In the agricultural sector, dairy and livestock produce are now more important than sugar cane, formerly the island's main crop. Fresh fruit and vegetables are grown for export.
Tourism is the main service industry and has undergone steady growth. Another major source of revenue used to come from a US naval base on the island of Vieques. Despite injecting an estimated US$300 million annually into the economy, it was widely unpopular with islanders; after sustained pressure, the closure of the base was announced in 2003.
Puerto Rico has observer status at the Caribbean trading bloc, CARICOM. The USA and its corporations dominate the domestic economy and trade patterns, although Puerto Rico has important trading links of its own with Japan, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Inflation sits at around 2.5% (2010), unemployment at around 12% (2011) and growth in 2010 was -5.8%. Unemployment is a persistent problem and is a hot-button political issue best avoided when discussing business. Puerto Rico has been affected negatively by the worldwide economic crisis and stimulating the economy is a top priority (as well as a considerable challenge) for the current administration.
US$93.5 billion (2010).
Chemicals, electronics, tinned tuna, rum and medical equipment.
Clothing, petroleum and food.
Main trading partners
USA, Ireland, The Netherlands, Japan and the Dominican Republic.
Keeping in Touch in Puerto Rico
The best way to call home is by purchasing an international calling card, which you can buy at a drug store or gift shop; calling cards can be used with pay phones or hotel phones.
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone operators. Be sure to ask your mobile provider if separate fees exist for roaming in Puerto Rico; some companies do not consider the island part of the USA under their contract plans and levy a separate rate for Puerto Rico.
Internet access is available in all cities and large towns; you can also find terminals in hotels and business centres.
Broadcasting is regulated by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). English-language newspaper The San Juan Star ceased publication in 2008, and was subsequently replaced by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun.
Other papers include El Nuevo Día, El Vocero, and Primera Hora; each is published daily. Home-grown comedies, talk shows and Spanish-language soaps are staple fare on local TV stations; the multichannel offerings of cable TV are also widely available.
Puerto Rico's basic and cable TV services offer numerous mainland US channels, as well as domestic channels. Telemundo and Univision represent the majority of the Spanish-language market share on the island.
Puerto Rico has several dozen FM and AM stations; the vast majority offers programming primarily or exclusively in Spanish.
Puerto Rico post is part of the US postal system. Airmail to Western Europe takes up to one week.Post Office hours
Mon-Fri 0900-1700; some branches have Saturday half-day service.