In this second episode, we discuss Puerto Rico with Dr. José Raúl Perales, Deputy Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. We cover:
- Puerto Rico’s political status as an unincorporated U.S. territory, and how that impacts the island’s international role.
- Puerto Rico’s storied role as a manufacturing platform for U.S. companies, especially for the pharma sector.
- How concerns over supply-chain security and overdependence on China may give Puerto Rico an opportunity to attract some manufacturing back.
- Industry-specific opportunities in Puerto Rico, for example, business services such as phytosanitary certification for Latin American companies.
- Possible obstacles Puerto Rico might face as it tries to become a manufacturing powerhouse once again, such as energy and transport concerns.
- How Puerto Rico could form win-win partnerships with other U.S. jurisdiction, such as joint branding of “Made in the USA” products.
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:08
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other and other developing and developed nations wax and wane and their importance in the global stage. While consumption and interconnectedness both increase, laws and regulations change incessantly, requiring businesses to stay nimble. How do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global lawn business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort,
Jonathan Bench 0:34
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every Thursday, we take a bite sized look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of our international guests. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finances, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 0:59
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast, please connect with us via email and social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
For many people, Puerto Rico evokes images of a Caribbean vacation, and more recently, the ravages of Hurricane Maria and a critical economic situation that led to the imposition by the federal government of a fiscal control board. Until not that long ago, however, the island was a vibrant manufacturing destination, attracting big names from the US, especially from the pharma sector. The success of Puerto Rico’s industrial sector allowed its per capita income to grow tenfold from 1950 to 1980. Much of the success was due to tax breaks that allowed us companies to avoid paying corporate income taxes on their Puerto Rico source profits. Starting in the 90s. However, those breaks started to be phased out, giving away To a protracted economic downturn. The fading of Puerto Rico’s star coincided with Asia’s and particularly China’s rise. As manufacturing shifted eastward. One would have been forgiven for thinking that Puerto Rico’s days as an industrial powerhouse were gone forever. But increasing discontent with China to put it mildly. Coupled with the Rude Awakening Americans have experienced as COVID-19 lays bare the inadequacies of its supply chain, maybe conspiring to give Puerto Rico another chance. With us today to explore why that may be the case is Doctor Jose Raul Perales. Mr. Raul is the deputy director of the Global Alliance for trade facilitation, as well as the director for trade at the Center for International private enterprise. He is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, my co host Jonathan’s alma mater, and was an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security from 2014 to 2016. Most Importantly, he is a fellow alumnus of the University of Michigan, and was my former teacher at that institution he is joining us today from Washington DC. Mr. Raul, welcome.
Jose Raul Perales 3:10
Thanks for having me.
Jonathan Bench 3:11
Raul, Could you please give us a little overview on Puerto Rico status within the US and internationally? I think that a lot of people even who consider themselves internationalists like me, see, we see Puerto Rico in the news, and we we’re not sure what’s going on or why it’s going on there. Can you can you please give us some context to this?
Jose Raul Perales 3:32
Absolutely. Puerto Rico is what is referred to us. Technically speaking, it’s an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning that Puerto Rico for legal international terms and sovereignty terms is a part of the United States. But in terms of American jurisprudence, the way that has been described is, according to federal law precedent, is that it belongs to but it’s not a part of the United States, meaning that Puerto Rico for legal and constitutive purposes is US territory. But because citizenship and a variety of other rights were conferred to the island as part of an acquisition process and the island is not incorporated, it means that it has special status within within the United States. So for example, Puerto Rico has a separate separate fiscal regime. Meaning that Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax but do pay a local income tax on their on their salaries. Puerto Ricans can move freely within the United States, but to not vote for the President of the United States when they are in Puerto Rico. It also means that Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in the Congress of the United States. That said, the United States is responsible for Puerto Rico’s international presence meaning its customs treatment, investment regimes, a sanitary phytosanitary Anything pertaining to trade, international affairs, defense, and most of the regulatory matters that govern the United States also have to there is a jurisdiction over Puerto Rico. It bears to say of course that because the United States is a federal country, the particular brand of America federalism means that states have a regulatory capacity over a wide variety of areas, like services. For example, we’re in the case of Puerto Rico because of the political relationship with the United States as a Commonwealth. Local authorities has been have been able to exercise a tremendous amount of leeway and flexor muscles. And so this is why the governance mechanism of Puerto Rico has been able to make the island have the best of both worlds and in fact, one of the political parties in the island. use that as a motto right that were the best of both worlds because the federal system but with a local flavor. allowed for by the federal system of the United States.
Fred Rocafort 6:04
As mentioned in the introduction, Puerto Rico has had a long history as a manufacturing destination, dating back to the 40s and 50s. But, uh, in the same way that there is a lot of confusion regarding where to Rico status within the US, I think this is also something that is not as well known as one perhaps would expect it to be. Can you tell us about this recent past that the island had as a manufacturing powerhouse?
Jose Raul Perales 6:38
Absolutely, um, the origins of Puerto Rico manufacturing go back to right before World War Two, and it’s hard for people to realize that before World War Two around the time of world war two Puerto Rico was the poorest jurisdiction in the Americas it was even poorer than Haiti. in per capita terms on the poverty was Elizabeth, who was Was disease, lack of social mobility services, it was a terrible, terrible time.
And when the origins of Rico’s manufacturing time or the or its ability to become a manufacturing powerhouse rested in the, in the ideologies of a group of Puerto Rican politicians in the 30s, namely led by Luis Manya, being a variety of other people that scribed to the, to his, what he created at the time the popular Democratic Party. And the belief at the time was that this party was meant to develop a more a new type of relationship with the United States, keeping in mind that Puerto Rico had been a huge Spanish territory for most of its history. And defining itself related to the United States as a colony which is what it was at the time was definitely considered something that that The DLA had to move beyond from without really curtailing the relationship with the United States. And so the idea that when you’re smiling and a variety of other politicians espoused at the time, which by the way, was very popular in most among most political scientists and economists, is that you could not fully exercise your political rights. And you could not fully resolve the political situation or definition of a territory like Puerto Rico that was so poor and so strict and without first ending to people’s needs, and to attend to people’s needs, you needed to provide a way for people to actually train for an economist turns we call the change of the terms of trade of Puerto Rico, right, that you have to move beyond the production of two or three basic staples, and that the island definitely had to modernize and industrialize. And the belief also was that the responsibility of industrialization of Puerto Rico was a matter of the state, right that it was the government that had to provide the engine for development. And again, keeping in mind that many of these ideas were tremendously popular in Latin America at the time, but also in many parts of the world estate as an agent of development. In fact, in many parts of Latin America these that these ideals later became something called developmental ism in Brazil, in Argentina, and keeping in mind that in Puerto Rico because of the limited capital circulating across the island, as I said it was extremely poor. The entirety of the operation for modernizing Puerto Rico’s economy industrializing had to be developed from the state. So, in tandem with the development of the Commonwealth status that Puerto Rico has there was it that came hand in hand with an economic project right to turn Puerto Rico into a manufacturing powerhouse that could make viable a new political relationship with the United States according to the beliefs at the time. This coincided later. I mean, as matters developed with the end of the world war two and of course, the beginning of the Cold War and the fear that poverty and inequality in Latin America would usher in a communism or, or abrupt changes of government leaning left leaning towards socialism or the left. And so from the perspective of the US government, it also became a matter of interest to the American to the American government that Puerto Rico became more economically developed. And of course, they worked hand in hand with the leadership of Puerto Rico in developing the kinds of not only political arrangements but also the economic arrangements that led to Puerto Rico being an attractive destination for manufacturing. Like most developing places, this started with the manufacturing our basic consumer goods, so canned goods, this is why Puerto Rico until even the 2000s had a tuna canning industry, because again, food production is usually where manufacturing starts taking place. apparel production was also very prevalent at the time of these very first stages. But the stages of industrialization of Puerto Rico move very rapidly. And this alludes to something you said earlier, Fred, that you know how quickly Puerto Rico’s GDP per capita Rose and the point at which Puerto Rico became one of the wealthiest places in the continent per capita, have to do with the fact that, first of all, there weren’t there wasn’t manufacturing competition, Puerto Rico’s a small island. And so there were other jurisdictions that were competing for manufacturing, but also the fact that Puerto Rico was an overpopulated territory. And so the idea of maintaining a certain productive base limited to certain amount of consumer goods would not be enough to propel the economy forward the way that that circumstances demand that and that opportunity presented itself. So Puerto Rico went very quickly through various stages of this industrial production, all of them propelled by mechanisms, state sponsored mechanisms of for both attracting investment and for for stimulating specific sectors, right? So, again, like many industrial policies in around the world, Puerto Rico have used its fiscal autonomy has allowed by the Commonwealth status. And as I alluded to earlier, to introduce fiscal incentives to attract global manufacturing to come to Puerto Rico. Why? Because it became very clear to political leaders in Puerto Rico, that manufacturing was not going to be something that Puerto Rico did for Puerto Rican Aloma that Puerto Rico had to be an export platform. Right. And that brought in the the, the export led model of economic development to the entire Caribbean region of Puerto Rico was the first export platform island in the region. And it was soon followed by Jamaica, Dominican Republic and others. And then the other aspect of it was that the government actually did have a role in picking winners and losers. Why because if the government has such an important role in mobilizing investment, it also had to mobilize the kinds of Human Resources certainly This isn’t things that will go to support that industry. And so this is how in the 1970s, for example, the government made a huge bet on the petrochemical industry and developed, you know, refineries and plants in different parts of Puerto Rico. timing was bad, it coincided with the oil crisis of 1973. And so that industry didn’t go very far.
But again, the choice for example, later on for pharmaceuticals, again, all of these in very developmental style approaches where the state basically puts forward a vision of what sectors the island ought to be to be pursuing, has been prevalent since those very early times in the 80s. That was, the bet that was made was for pharmaceutical industries. And today, while there is less interest or less leadership from government authorities with respect to what sectors the economy ought to be focusing on either there’s less emphasis on the quote unquote model for economic development, there are certain sectors that because of the characteristics of the island are favored locally, the island has been moving more towards the service economy. So any kind of service is linked to manufacturing or manufacturing services have received a tremendous emphasis from the state but always this type relationship between the types of fiscal incentives that are produced and the role the state has in picking winners and losers.
Jonathan Bench 14:26
Let’s pivot for a minute to COVID-19 because we’re all living that day to day now. COVID-19 has really, Baird, the US is dependency on China for its pharmaceutical supply chain. And Puerto Rico has experience in the pharma sector. We’re seeing a lot of China fatigue now in terms of national security and IP theft and rising costs of doing business there. And at the same time we see the need to boost Puerto Rico’s economy. Do you see this system scenario as a bit of a perfect storm for Puerto Rico to be rejuvenated as a manufacturing center.
Jose Raul Perales 15:07
I think there is room, there’s definitely room to consider things. Ah, let me just say, Trump, let me just start by saying that we, if anything, COVID-19 is really forcing people to rethink what they mean by global supply chains or by what they mean by supply chains in general. Not not only on the pharmaceutical and the medical equipment, side of things, but also in a variety of other other sectors. So definitely, there are incentives for people to rethink location, domestic incentives for manufacturing, so on and so forth. You know, when Puerto Rico began D industrializing and by that what I mean by that is the exodus of certain kinds of industries away from the island and the more focus specialization on pharmaceuticals etc. In part because the growth of Puerto Rico may did an expensive destination to produce the type of low cost manufacturing that places like Mexico or even China, we do it. So for example, before the the rise of China, NAFTA was already hitting Puerto Rico hard because Puerto Rico simply could not salaries in Puerto Rico could not compete with Mexican salaries or plant or accident market access for things like apparel, and textile production. So in that sense, a Puerto Rico had had always had that challenge. But in a time when when we’re looking at questions of national security, access standards, things that are that that work for governments are going to be taking a hard look at where they locate their production. I will tell you that the US there are certainly incentives for locating Puerto Rico the question, the question here is, is to think about what sector seem to be the more suited for for for Puerto Rico to both be an attractive destination for investment but also for politicians to look at what gives the best value, a higher value and added products again, because as you were pointing out Puerto Rico does have a formidable pharmaceutical and biomedical industry apparatus seemed more logical. But keep in mind that Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical industry is dependent on the importation of inputs for production of these goods. So the extent to which, you know, it is it is, it’s somewhat of a consideration to think about Puerto Rico as an ideal location destination, if you can find a way of fixing your supply chain issues before you locate that manufacturing in Puerto Rico. Right. And that is already happening. So definitely there is an opportunity here and this is where for savvy politicians and and experts in Puerto Rico to think about how you pitch the island in comparison to others. places that have similar circumstances like Singapore or Ireland, but that have a better but Puerto Rico can have a better access to secure supply chains to produce this kind of manufacturing, on their users diction. Similarly with other kinds of services, as I said earlier that our support these kind of manufacturing, that just again, we’re where our economy is headed. And, and again, we will see a resurgence in manufacturing Puerto Rico still enjoys a minimum wage differential with the United States, which is a highly controversial proposition these days. It’s considering the, the fact that Puerto Rico’s per capita income still is half of the poorest state of the United States, there are pressures on the one hand, to raise the minimum wage in Puerto Rico to make it a more attractive destination even for Puerto Ricans to come back to the island of work and to reduce economic inequality at the same time that differential makes it attractive. It makes Puerto Rico ultra unattractive and better. A destination for us manufacturers seeking to bring back those supply chains to the United States. But who wants to keep production for the salaries or the human capital factor? control some of that cost. I should also bear it also bear saying that some of those decisions about manufacturing are affected by a variety of other things. We’re Puerto Rico has recently had challenges that are being tackled. But it is a long road and it’s an ambitious road. For example, Puerto Rico has very high energy costs in comparison to certainly comparison to other jurisdictions in the United States, not so much in terms of the Caribbean. So the kilowatt hour cost of producing energy in Puerto Rico is is nearly double what it is in the state of Florida, for example. Again, it’s very expensive to produce energy anywhere in the Caribbean. And so that has been acting as a hindrance to certain kinds of manufacturing to take place in Puerto Rico, especially
Factoring that relies on cheaper energy, but also a consistent and reliable energy provision. transport costs are also an issue for for manufacturing and Puerto Rico, especially if you’re looking at high volume transport bulk transport of goods, considering that there are restrictions as to what kind of ships can sail between or to, to move goods between Korea and the United States on account of the Jones Act. And so it altogether, it’s about what kind of package you put together, right. But it isn’t just a matter of breaking those supply chains at Puerto Rico having a manufacturing advantage, because it’s a lower cost destination, if that some of those indirect costs also impinge on the ability of the island to be successful, to emerge successful as a manufacturing destination during the COVID crisis.
Fred Rocafort 20:53
So mindful of these challenges that that you described, what are some of the industries that you see as potentially finding Puerto Rico attractive to mention, just one. And to kick off that discussion. I recently read an article about what’s happening in the aviation sector. And even though I had been hearing about that, for some time, that article actually went into into some detail and I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised to see the the stats that we’re talking about in terms of jobs in terms of the number of companies that are being created. So, again, mindful of the challenges and also looking to attract those higher value added industries. Do you have any thoughts on on which industries might might be good bets?
Jose Raul Perales 21:49
You know, it’s a very interesting point that you raised about aviation because if you think about it, the rise of aviation and this is goes to the policy suggestion right, though, the question You’re asking if the rise of this aviation sector in Puerto Rico is the result of a mix between old ideas and your responses. There’s something in the mindset of Puerto Rican politicians that is embedded in it like, it’s almost in their DNA to believe that Puerto Rico’s a bridge between the Americas, this idea that Puerto Rico’s geographic location and the fact that it’s travels to cultures travels to political relationships straddles a variety of lanes, that Puerto Rico’s a natural Nexus and a natural connection. And so, it that has translated itself into a variety of ideas for Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico’s economic development in the past when I was working in the government of Puerto Rico, for example, one thing that I proposed very strongly that the islands would consider was, for example, a developing competitive advantages in matters of sanitary and phytosanitary certifications and those kinds of things. for food business for agribusiness, why because most countries were aspiring to have us kind of regulations for food, agriculture, food and agricultural production the continent. But to have that in Spanish and have that in the context of tropical laboratories, it was very difficult for them to absorb and Puerto Rico had a natural advantage to do that. And again, it’s that mindset of straddling those, those two, those two lanes. And so the question for Puerto Rican politicians and for for for the private sector is how do you turn that idea or that identity into something very smart? Again, as I said, the idea that occurred to me some time ago about sanitarian, laboratory testing and all those kinds of things. But in the case of aviation, what’s happening now is that you have a bunch of people who realize that with the growing changes in air aircraft manufacturing, it is actually very possible for Puerto Rico to not necessarily be a hub for transport rotation, but you can actually bring airplanes to have them service to Puerto Rico because the turns out that for most of the narrow range airplanes are narrow body airplanes being produced by both Airbus and Boeing. Puerto Rico is conveniently located within distance from both manufacturing center so that these planes can fly to Puerto Rico for service. The service for these airplanes, ideally is done in a in a warm latitude because it allows for some of the bolts to to be more solidified, solidly installed in airplanes.
And people made an actual bet that this could work. And that was the the idea of attracting this, this this industry to come to the island. So again, playing to those kinds of advantages of Puerto Rico has Yes, it has a strategic location. But what does that mean in terms of specific sectors? Right? So maybe aviation is not necessarily I mean, Aviation Services is one part of it, maybe not the entire manufacturing aspect of aviation and so might One of the big areas where I think Puerto Rico can have a tremendous impact is precisely this issue of industry services. What kind of services the island can provide for manufacturing or other big industries that find economies of scale elsewhere, the service industry, given technological advances does not care about physical location, as much as manufacturing itself for the simple reason, as I said, of economies of scale, but you can establish a variety of supportive services from from Puerto Rico and become a hub for those services in a variety of ways. And I think that actually time and again, all of those things are connected to manufacturing. So you can use many of the manufacturing incentives that have been produced both by local politicians, by by the local government, but also at the federal level, and apply them to Puerto Rico again, as part of a package that combines human capital that combines fiscal incentives and that combines easy access and physical location government or Puerto Rico actually One of the little known secrets about Puerto Rico is that the government of Puerto Rico owns a tremendous amount of physical infrastructure that they actually, for potential investors, they basically give 90% off on physical leased space. Some startups actually are starting to move to Puerto Rico, because they find that the internet connection is pretty good. The digital base of the economy is pretty decent. And they have are located within the United States, and they have access to all of his real estate for cheap, not to mention the human top human capital and so on and so forth. So, at some level, some of this is already beginning to happen hasn’t catapulted yet, that maybe this crisis is what you know, in the words of one of the clinton advisors never let a good crisis go on us. Maybe this crisis is what will give a bolt those kinds of efforts.
Jonathan Bench 26:53
So you mentioned some of the difficulties that Puerto Rico businesses wanting to do business in Puerto Rico But encounter including those high energy costs. Do you see any advantage in or any path forward for Puerto Rico to work with other US jurisdictions, either companies or or state governments, let’s say to to find solutions to say it would be the equivalent of some type of joint venture, right? Do you see any type of Avenue there where we’re Puerto Ricans, and one or more US states can figure out how to work together?
Jose Raul Perales 27:29
Absolutely. And there have been instances where Puerto Rico were Puerto Rican businesses and Puerto Rican politicians and government officials have strategized about this. And some of these things have actually been put in practice. And some of them have stayed on the semi real on paper and and even not even, and not just with the United States or with states in the United States, but also with other countries. Let me give you two examples. In the 1980s, Puerto Rico developed something called the Twin Towers Plant initiative with the Dominican Republic. And so what they did is that you, you develop a regime where you would attract investment to the region using what at that time were Caribbean Basin initiative funds. Puerto Rico would give a tax incentive to one of these companies to set base in Puerto Rico, and then the tax savings that Puerto Rico that that the company would, would perceive Puerto Rico would invest that money. I mean, the other the tax credit that it was giving Puerto Rico would invest that would compel a company to invest that money in the generation of more businesses elsewhere. And so Puerto Rico made this this this this arrangement with the Dominican Republic, to have certain apparel production happen jointly between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. That’s just one example. playtex for example, a very famous women’s apparel company, have plants in both burgundy Dominican Republic and that was the origin of the export the Free Trade Zones of the Dominican Republic right these But he’s also provided a special tax regime in the Dominican Republic, special treatment, both at Port and and in labor treatment. And it gave the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico a tremendous export platform. trade between the two islands trebled over the period of 10 to 15 years and as I said, it developed into a into the basis of the current economic engine of the Dominican Republic. So ideas like that have happened in the past in other cases, a later in the 90s, Puerto Rico joined with Louisiana, Hawaii and Alaska, for a proposal to amend the Jones Act to allow For Non Us vessels to sail between certain are certain exceptions to certain us ports. The proposal was tabled at the end of the day, Puerto Rico withdrew from the discussion. Not entirely sure why that happened. But there was an agreement among these jurisdictions that the costs of, of using us Merchant Marine vessels for certain goods and under certain circumstances, outweigh the benefits and that for specific types of industries that they were seeking to attract and face of Louisiana, for example, in the oil and gas business, a it was it there needed to be some exceptions to these laws and a coalition was formed to modify them again, for the purpose of obtaining the same economic benefit. So, certain things of the sort can be done again, most likely when it’s punctual, meaning that it’s sector specific policy specific, identify what are the areas that that are joint opportunities, and then moving from there.
Fred Rocafort 30:43
You know, just to follow up on this topic, when when I was living in China, one of my friends from Puerto Rico was had a business that that sought to introduce Puerto Rican coffee to China, obviously I don’t I don’t have to tell us about this. But for others, coffee is a very important crop grown in Puerto Rico, it historically has been. But one thing that that was really interesting when I, when I would go to marketing events was how Puerto Rico managed to work together with Hawaii to basically market jointly under this umbrella, I forget the exact term but it was something along the lines of US coffee or something like that. I mean, basically, Hawaii and Puerto Rico would be the main two jurisdictions in the US that that that grow coffee, there might be another one that I’m that I’m I don’t know about. But it’s, it’s To me, that’s another example of of the kind of partnerships that could that could come about. And I mean, if Hawaii and Puerto Rico which are literally at opposite ends of the American universe, can Find find ways to cooperate one, one has to imagine that there would be other other opportunities.
Jose Raul Perales 32:07
Absolutely. And it’s a funny, funny that you should say this because, you know, actually, in my earlier life as a Trade Representative for Puerto Rico, I had to work a lot with coffee producers in the coffee business. So I got to know a lot of the folks and how the business operates in Puerto Rico. That is a very particular example and an interesting example, prep because the case of coffee, you know, one of the this when you mentioned Kona coffee, when you mentioned Hawaiian coffee, you mentioned Kona coffee, which is a brand that the Hawaiians have been able to build. And so one of the hardest struggles for industries like coffee in Puerto Rico has been precisely the question of how do you build a brand? If you think about it, the most successful brand of industrial product coming out of Puerto Rico is wrong. And Puerto Rican ROM is right regarded globally. And, in fact, in the United States, about 80% of the room that is had in the United States is from Puerto Rico. But even then there have been certain complications with respect to to the state. And in part, as I said, the case of coffee is very interesting, because we were talking about is a marketing scheme. In the case of rum. The problem has always been that there is a tax exemption that Puerto Rico enjoys over its rum production that other places that will produce rum, like Florida, Alabama, Mississippi do not have because of the fiscal structure of Puerto Rico, and a variety of federal laws. And so the potential is there for working with other states. But that’s what i mean that it’s very, it has to be something that’s crafted very carefully with respect to what are the kinds of things that people are targeting, if it’s anything related to tax incentives, because very thorny, very complicated, because of the particularities of Puerto Rico, but in terms of marketing, quality, things rolls are looking at market targeting. Looking at copper, human capital development, you know, there is already an extremely healthy if you want to treat education as a business, there’s already a tremendous healthy business education field of Puerto Rico, universities and Puerto Rico education experts supporting Latino education in the United States and vice versa. Because again, the ability to produce educational materials in ways that speak more clearly to the communities. And I’m talking here about educational consulting services and things of the sort this has been going on for many years. Or you even have Latino students from the United States go to Puerto Rico to get a college education that is American certified, but for a cheaper cost than it is than in the US. Some of those things are already happening, right. We don’t know about them because they’re not widely known. Again, some of this is starting to become better now. Thanks to the efforts of nongovernmental organizations, universities themselves, people like yourselves we THROUGH THROUGH THROUGH podcasts like this, that are getting the word out about what kinds of things can be done in Puerto Rico and the opportunity that it really is. So absolutely, I mean, there’s a wealth of things that can be done. The question is creativity.
Fred Rocafort 35:20
Personally, I could I could keep this conversation going for for a very long time, but out of respect for for you and our audience, I’ll, I’ll start wrapping up. But before before we do that, one of the things that that we want to do as part of this podcast is not only get people thinking about different topics through the programming itself, but also by making recommendations. And I’d like to ask you, who’s that I would, what are you reading at the moment that you would care to recommend to our audience?
Jose Raul Perales 35:55
I’m reading two things. One of it is fiction, the other is nonfiction. What I’m reading on fiction is a novel by a wonderful Colombian author whose name is Santiago Gamboa. His book is called psychological torture. It’s a thriller that he wrote in 2019 and published in 2019. And it’s a it’s a detective s thriller set in post conflict Colombians head against the qualities of of post conflict, Colombia. It’s a fascinating read, if you want a fast page story with a good mystery attached to it. That also gives you a tremendous glimpse into what it was conflict society looks like. And the unanswered questions it’s for for people like me who are who have spent our lives working with Latin America that market issues is a fascinating read. The other thing that I’m reading, which may sound a bit surprising to you and to some of our listeners is a book by him on the website is called the triumph of injustice, how the rich dodge taxes and how to make them pay. And the reason I’m reading this is because there is There has been a tremendous push in the economics field to ground economic thinking a lot more into the social sciences themselves and questions of inequality questions of taxes, questions of the role of economics has to play in rebalancing societies and meeting societal needs is has actually come to the to the, to the fore as a result of the crisis. But this has been going on for quite a while, actually. Project syndicate has been publishing fantastically fantastic columns about you know, how is this competition between economics and public health to see which one wins in the context of this, this crisis? And so I’m on all sides is a very provocative author. He is considered a left leaning economist. And while he is a while he’s very much a well respected French economist, and his ideas have been very controversial. He is widely read and widely considered one of the The most authoritative minds on questions of inequality and fiscal policy. So at a time when we’re thinking about the role of fiscal policy and bringing our economy back, it’s good to keep in mind what some ideas are being put out there about the underlying basis for inequality and how to get out of it. So those are reality. Next to my defectiveness thrillers,
Fred Rocafort 38:21
I’m definitely going to have to look for that Gamboa book I love. I love that kind of.
I love a good Crime Story. Jonathan, what about you? What are you reading?
Jonathan Bench 38:32
Recently, I finished a book that’s about five years old. It’s called the Accidental Superpower by Peter Zion is a geopoliticist. What I love about this book is my second time through it now, because it grounds me in in the reality of the current world order. So he takes us back to post World War Two, and the Bretton Woods Conference where we brought all of the survivors from All the surviving countries from World War Two. And we said here’s what the global order is going to look like. And and so he uses that as the lens through which to understand why the world is currently falling apart and why we have this trend toward much more nationalism and less globalism. So it’s, it’s helpful to remind me of a lot who the key players are and what their histories were from World War Two onward.
Fred Rocafort 39:23
Excellent. One of the books that I picked up recently for Well, I’d like to say a second look, but probably a first complete Look, I don’t think I read it completely the first time around. But it’s a book called A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada. And it’s a book I picked up a few years ago, during a visit to Canada. I know that for a lot of internationalists, it Canada might not necessarily seem like a particularly interesting country to study but for me, it is precisely Because of everything that that we do have in common with Canada, but that in a way for me makes the differences more more interesting as well. So this is a book that really dives, not necessarily into the differences themselves, but rather, in a more introspective fashion looks at what makes Canada a unique country. The author of the book is John Ralston Saul as I understand he’s pretty famous and Canada but of course, true to the asymmetrical nature of the relationship on this side of the border, we wouldn’t we wouldn’t know him. I certainly didn’t when I when I bought the book, but it’s a good read. For anyone who’s interested in in Canada, I recommend it and be on the lookout for us here on this podcast to do something related to Canada. On that note, I’d like to thank our guest host And I will thank you very much. It’s a It’s a pleasure to to be in touch with you once again and we’ll we’ll need to have a call on the on the margins to continue the conversation. But for now, thank you very much for agreeing to be on.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai