The repeal of Section 936 resulted in lost manufacturing jobs for the USA and a 15 year economic crisis for Puerto Rico.
As we sit today in the middle of a world pandemic, a few things seem certain. COVID 19 is a health crisis that has forever changed our relationship with globalism. It is time for a new understanding of how manufacturing keeps us all safe. This is especially true of the pharmaceutical industry. With shortages of basic supplies, medicines and protective gear, is it time to bring critical manufacturing back to the United States?
In this AG&T Thought Leadership conversation, we speak with economics professor Zadia Feliciano (see bio)of Queens College and explore the consequences for the USA and Puerto Rico of eliminating the manufacturing tax incentives – Section 936.
In her groundbreaking work on Section 936, entitled, “US Multinationals in Puerto Rico and the Repeal of Section 936 Tax Exemption for U.S. Corporations“, professor Feliciano and Andrew Green, “analyze the effects of the phase out and elimination of Section 936 on the number of establishments, value added, employment, and wages in Puerto Rico’s manufacturing.
Unfortunately, the elimination of Section 936 helped push critical manufacturing AWAY from the USA. Critical manufacturing left Puerto Rico (USA) and sought cheaper markets in Mexico, Ireland, Latin America and China.
The Food and Drug Administration has for some time been expressing concern that the United States is too dependent on China within the medical supply chain. Puerto Rico has 49 FDA-approved pharmaceutical plants in place, and produces not just one quarter of all U.S. pharmaceutical exports, but also significant amount of medical devices.
Puerto Rico’s manufacturing industry is in need of support, but is also in a position to blossom, similar to other areas of the country that used to have a strong manufacturing base. In the area of pharmaceuticals, Puerto Rico has the advantage of an educated workforce and many people experienced in the industry. Puerto Rico produces 25% of the pharmaceuticals exported by the United States. This is more than any State. The Island has the cold chain logistics for pharmaceuticals in place. The learning curve would be lower for Puerto Rico than for many other U.S. regions. The time to act is now.