Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE) and the Secretary of State for Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Spain organized a Spain-Australia business meeting to analyze bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The Australian Minister of Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, John McVeigh; the new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; the president of CEOE, Juan Rosell; the recently appointed Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Margarida Méndez; the General Director of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, Inmaculada Riera; and the Director of Finance and Investor Relations at ICEX, María Jesús Fernández as well as the CEO of the European-Australian Business Council participated in the event.
The president of CEOE, Juan Rosell, explained that Spanish companies are reliable partners with whom Australian companies can place full confidence for the development of joint projects in Spain, Australia and the rest of the world. In this regard, he reported that Spanish businessmen have welcomed with particular satisfaction the opening of negotiations between the EU and Australia to achieve a broad and deep trade agreement. Rosell stressed that an agreement of this nature, will not only mean the elimination of almost all tariffs, but the improvement of the conditions of access to the markets of services or public procurement, as well as the establishment of a framework of institutional economic cooperation that will represent a great step in the consolidation of economic relations between the EU and Australia. The president of CEOE took advantage of his speech to announce the visit of a business delegation of CEOE between October 20 and 28 in response to the visit of the business delegation of the European Australian Business Council and to explore new business opportunities.
The General Director of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain, Inmaculada Riera, defended free trade and open markets as part of the history of success in good relations between Spain and Australia and showed support for the negotiations of an ambitious agreement between the European Union and Australia “in order to provide a greater number of opportunities in bilateral trade and investment”. Inmaculada Riera recalled that 77 Spanish companies have already established permanent operations in Australia.
The Australian Minister of Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, John McVeigh, explained that it is fifty years since the beginning of diplomatic relations between the two countries and that there are numerous connections between both regions that can be taken advantage of. He noted that Australia offers business opportunities in various sectors such as aerospace, education, information technology, development and research or tourism, among others. In fact, he mentioned that Queensland is carrying out one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country in which a Spanish company is participating.
The new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, stressed that with the first round of negotiations between the European Union and Australia held in Brussels to reach a possible agreement, in the future that would bring important benefits for both regions. The Minister stressed that there are large and medium-sized Spanish companies that already collaborate with Australian companies and whose objective is also to access third markets such as Asia, or Latin America and Africa through Spain.
The CEO of the European-Australian Business Council, Jason Collins, reported that this is the third visit of an Australian business delegation to Madrid, in order to further strengthen bilateral relations. Collins said that in addition to trade, they also pay special attention to the education sector as well as the scientists, especially in the field of research.
Spain and Australia
Director of Finance and Investor Relations at ICEX, María Jesús Fernández, reviewed the evolution of the Spanish economy and the advantages that the country can offer to Australian companies. Fernandez said that Spain closed 2017 with positive figures for the fifth consecutive year, so “we are recovering the confidence of investors.” In this regard, she mentioned that 2 million jobs have been created, of which 600,000 in the last year have contributed to create 36 per cent of employment in the euro area. She also stressed that Spain is the 9th country with the least limitations for foreign investment according to the OECD, and it also export goods abroad that are increasingly diversified and with a greater technological component.
The senior commissioner of Trade and Investment of AUSTRADE for Spain and France, Jennifer Mackinlay, highlighted that in 2018 there have been 27 consecutive years of uninterrupted economic growth in Australia. She informed that it is the fifth country with the greatest economic freedom worldwide and added that the integration of Australia with the Asian region contributes to create more jobs and economic growth, which is a great opportunity for Spanish companies to access the said market. She mentioned that there are business opportunities in many sectors, including infrastructure, for which the Australian administration will allocate an investment of 2,500 million euros in 2018-2019 for transport projects.
The newly appointed Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Margarida Méndez, made a reference to the economic growth of Australia for years, its solid fiscal system, its economic opening, its reforms in various sectors and its integration with the Asian market. “For all these reasons, Australia is a strategic partner for Spain,” she said. In this regard, she also explained that the country’s support for trade negotiations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand was decisive for them to finally see the light, although “they will surely be long and complex,” she intuited. Finally, Méndez informed about the existing financing instruments for Spanish companies that want to export or start their business abroad.
Translated from Spanish
Image: © Jesús Umbría