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Island´s European Trade Office Undergoing Transformation

Director Manuel Reyes makes pharmaceutical promotions a priority


March 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

A change in office location—as well as a new set of priorities and strategic alliances—is now in place at the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico´s trade office in Europe, which came under the leadership of attorney Manuel Reyes less than two months ago.

The most visible change so far during Reyes´ first two months has been the Madrid-based office´s move to a new location. Reyes told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that his office´s distinct clientele, along with need for more space, led to the end of the previous office-sharing arrangement with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. He said the move to a new office—still in close proximity to the previous office—in no way affects the continuing collaborative relationship with Tourism Co. colleagues.

No doubt more important, however, are the changing priorities and new strategic alliances that Reyes is bringing to the office. "Our field of action is broad, but we’ve identified priorities designed to bring a return on the government’s investment in resources in the office," Reyes said. "Promoting industrial investment in Puerto Rico in industries where we have a competitive niche—as is the case in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment—is at the top of our priorities."

Reyes said European pharmaceuticals are increasingly attracted to having a production presence in the U.S., and that in that context his office is determined to steer them to Puerto Rico. He said that he is currently in the midst of promotional negotiations with one major European pharmaceutical company.

Promotional efforts are being targeted, Reyes said, to pharmaceutical and other high-tech manufacturing firms in England, Germany, and Spain. "We’re currently considering the possibility of contracting external resources in England and Germany to supplement our industrial intelligence and promotional efforts in those markets," he said.

Prior to assuming his post, Reyes met with all of the European members of the consular corps in San Juan, as well as Chamber of Commerce President Jose Joaquin Villamil, in order to begin forging strategic alliances for Puerto Rico´s new European trade development agenda. "We’re here to work with everyone who shares our goal of boosting European investment in Puerto Rico, and boosting the export of Puerto Rico products in Europe, which creates jobs and economic growth in Puerto Rico," Reyes emphasized.

The University of Puerto Rico and University of Barcelona-trained lawyer said he’s also established an excellent working relationship with the U.S. trade attache in Madrid, in line with his emphasis on heavily promoting Puerto Rico within the context of European-U.S. trade relations. "It’s critically important that when European investors look to expand to and invest in the States, they put Puerto Rico into the equation," Reyes said. He added that chronic lack of knowledge by investors has caused Puerto Rico to be mistakenly overlooked in the past.

Reyes said his office also intends to work closely with Promoexport in identifying opportunities for local companies in European markets. The exclusive interview with Reyes took place during a major food industry trade show in Barcelona, in which Reyes said such Puerto Rico companies as Pan American Grain, Destilerias Serralles, Guy, Carla’s Sweets, and others successfully participated.


Puerto Rico-Europe Trade

Overview of Major Partners
(Fiscal year 2000-2001)

Country Exports Imports
Belgium $371 million $131 million
England $722 million $449 million
France $332 million $341 million
Germany $226 million $447 million
Holland $634 million $113 million
Ireland $203 million $4.7 billion
Italy $308 million $368 million
Spain $41 million $173 million
Switzerland $223 million $189 million

Source: Puerto Rico Planning Board

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