"The tax differential in the Azores must be highlighted" to attract investment, says a specialist.
In addition to various investment support programs, the Autonomous Region of the Azores offers advantages from a fiscal point of view, says Catarina Gonçalves, partner in the fiscal area of the consultancy PwC.
Catarina Gonçalves, partner in the tax area of the consultancy PwC, discusses in a written interview the main opportunities that the Azorean economy has to offer national and foreign investors.
What are the main opportunities that the Azorean economy offers potential investors?
The tax differential must be highlighted. It benefits from the eighth lowest corporate tax rate and second lowest VAT rate in the European Union. The strategic location must also be enhanced – halfway between the USA/Canada and Europe.
In which sectors of activity do you see the greatest potential for growth? Are those related to the Economy of the Sea, given the geographical situation of the archipelago?
The Economy of the Sea will continue to play a very important role. But Tourism must also be a bet, namely Sustainable Tourism, which has grown.
What incentive programs currently exist do you highlight, for national and foreign companies to invest in the Azores?
Let's do it by steps:
Incentives for foreign investment:
i) Third Tech Hub- There has been a strong investment in training young people in IT (Software development, Coding etc.). The aim is to promote the Region as an area with a specialized workforce in this sector, attracting investment from IT Consulting companies, as well as the employment of this workforce in a remote area (the so-called digital nomads).
ii) Incentive systems that finance up to 40% of eligible investment expenses, through non-refundable subsidies, to which a 25% incentive can be added, for a total of 65%.
iii) Azores Business Incubator Network (RIEA) - brings together spaces to welcome and support entrepreneurs in the creation and installation of companies, in the development of new businesses during the start-up period, training companies and offering diversified services.
Incentives to the domestic economy:
i) The incentive programs currently in place are aimed at supporting the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as this is the type of business fabric in the region.
ii) Incentives for the internationalization of regional products, with emphasis on agricultural products;
iii) “Vale PME Digital Azores” - Transaction incentives for a digital economy
iv) “Vale Exportar Açores” - Support to micro and SMEs for the export of goods and services with the Azores Brand Seal
v) Investments in projects for the development of the local economy, export activities (goods and services to markets outside the region) and tourism (accommodation, catering, tourist entertainment activities, etc.)
Is the qualification of human resources an added challenge in the Azores, given the national panorama?
Historically yes, but it must be believed that the existing qualification programs, combined with programs to attract qualified Azoreans who left the Autonomous Region of the Azores in recent years, but who can now perform their work remotely, can help to bridge this historical gap .