Puerto Rico, as a territory of the United States, is an important consumer of goods made in the states. While the government does not track sales from one state or territory to another, we can gain some idea of the size of the market from other facts. In 2022, Puerto Rico received imports from the states totaling $29,950,090,000. Clearly, Puerto Rico is an important economic partner for the states as a whole.

Is Puerto Rico an important partner for individual states? Let’s take one example: Arkansas.

Economic connections between Arkansas and Puerto Rico

  • Arkansas-based Walmart, the largest retailer on the Island, has 25 stores in Puerto Rico, purchases $1.6 billion of inventory locally and over $700 million of inventory from the states, for annual earnings of about $3 billion in sales in Puerto Rico.
  • Arkansas rice growers received an alert from the USDA letting them know that shipments of rice from China to Puerto Rico were down this year, giving Aransas growers an extra opportunity to make sales in Puerto Rico.
  • In addition to sales of rice, Arkansas has another rice-related connection with Puerto Rico. The University of Arkansas has a collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico. Seeds of new varieties of rice developed at the University of Arkansas are sent to Puerto Rico for propagation. The tropical climate of the Island allows much faster development of the new strains of rice. Last year, Puerto Rico sent 6,000 pounds of rice seed back to Arkansas. Together, the two universities are able to develop improved varieties of rice much faster than either could do it alone.
  • The World Trade Center Arkansas has led trade missions to Puerto Rico for Arkansas companies wanting to increase their exports to the Caribbean. While many different Arkansas manufacturers have taken part, the focus is on these products:
    • Automotive parts and services
    • Construction equipment
    • Road-building machinery
    • Building products
    • Infrastructure projects
    • Medical equipment and devices/pharmaceuticals
    • Information and communications technology
    • Energy equipment and services
    • Safety and security equipment
    • Hotel and restaurant equipment
    • Franchise
    • Manufacturing equipment
    • Yachting industry/maritime services/sailing equipment

Just one state

Aransas is not geographically close to Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican population of the state is just 4.7%. Yet the two states have strong economic ties. A change in Puerto Rico’s political status would affect businesses in Arkansas. This is true for all the current states. As a state, Puerto Rico would increase interstate commerce and strengthen academic and business relationships. Free from the uncertainty and instability of territory status, Puerto Rico would be able to strengthen economic ties with all the states and draw new partners and investors to the Island.




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