The Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, stressed this Monday that Catalonia’s political process ‘doesn’t concern at all’ international investors. In a meeting with thirty businessmen and international investors at the headquarters of the newspaper the Financial Times in London, Baiget explained that there is ‘no anxiety’ regarding the political process alive in Catalonia, but rather only ‘interest’ in knowing more about it. According to Baiget, investors are aware of the lack of  investment from Spain in Catalonia, especially regarding infrastructure, but value ‘Catalonia’s assets’. The Minister’s visit to London corresponds to the ‘Brexit’ plan, which aims to promote foreign investment in Catalonia and strengthen trade relations with the United Kingdom.

Before the meeting, Baiget explained that the goal of his visit was to ‘situate Catalonia as an investment destination for British companies or businesses settled in the UK that may consider at some point broadening their headquarters or moving to Continental Europe’. The Catalan Government, however, does not aim to conduct ‘an indiscriminate campaign’ to attract investors after ‘Brexit’, but to work with the Catalan public business competitiveness and internationalisation agency ACCIÓ and offer solutions ‘for companies that are considering leaving Britain’, he detailed.

According to the Catalan Minister, Catalonia offers ‘good communications, trained and qualified people, a good network of small and medium companies’, but also ‘universities and networks of technological centres’ that can help companies ‘to grow and develop’.  Indeed, the Financial Times report FDi European Cities and Regions of the future 2016/2017, which multinational companies use to analyse future investment projects, recognised Catalonia as the best Southern European region to invest in for 2016 and 2017. A fact that the editor of the magazine, Courtney Fingar, confirmed this Monday.

Barcelona beats Madrid on innovation
According to Fingar, Barcelona and Madrid are ‘both strong’ in foreign direct investment, but ‘where Barcelona wins is in its focus on innovative sectors and the Government’s approach in the region to attracting, driving and facilitating foreign direct investment’. ‘It’s just very strong’, she added.

FDi’s editor believes that ‘the region has done very well in attracting innovative sectors and promoting R&D’. The Catalan Government ‘has been among the most proactive and dynamic in terms of their approach to attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment’, Fingar said. ‘all around it’s quite an attractive package’, she concluded.

Regarding the independence movement, Fingar stated that ‘surprisingly, despite the political uncertainties’ Catalonia has seen ‘a year-on-year increase in investment in the past two/three years’. This, Fingar stated, suggests that the companies ‘aren’t necessarily holding back while they wait for this political process to play out’. Indeed, between 2014 and 2015, the ‘greenfield’ companies, multinationals without a prior presence in Catalonia, represented 38.4% of foreign investment projects managed by the Catalan Government agency responsible for foreign investment attraction, Catalonia Trade & Investment. The second type of investment (22%) came from multinationals that already had some kind of presence in Catalonia, while 19% were expansion projects.

480 British companies in Catalonia
The Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge stressed the tradition of trade relations between the UK and Catalonia, ‘of the 6,400 multinationals that we have located in our country, 480 are British’, he pointed out. ‘This tradition is already there, we offer health, new technologies, chemical and automotive possibilities, a good environment and facilities to settle in’, Baiget said.

Baiget also highlighted the role of the Government and the ACCIÓ offices, in this case the London headquarter office, in attracting foreign investment. ‘Each year the Office of Catalonia Trade & Investment in London successfully manages 25 investment projects from the United Kingdom’, he explained.

Catalonia, the fourth-best European region in foreign investment attraction
According to the Financial Times’ FDi Markets, Catalonia was the fourth-best region in all of Europe in terms of foreign investment attraction in 2015. This foreign direct investment reached €5.224 billion, the highest figure on record and only bettered by a region in England, one in Scotland and another region in Russia.

15% of the foreign investment in 2015 went to the automotive sector and 8% to the services sector. Food and drink, electronics, biotechnology and chemicals attracted 5.3% of the foreign capital respectively, and metallurgy and textiles 4.5%.

The countries leading the list of foreign investment projects in this period were the United States, with 16.9% of the total, France (11.6%), Japan (8%), China (7.2%), Germany (5.3%) and Switzerland (5.3%).

The ‘Brexit’ plan
On the 3rd of October, Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Innovation and Culture, Jaume Collboni, also travelled to the British capital to promote the so-called ‘Brexit’ plan, promote Barcelona ‘as a city of talent and ‘establish all possible bridges between London and Barcelona to exchange experiences’. The aim, he stressed, is to ‘facilitate the landing of companies and investments’ in the Catalan capital following the exit of Britain from the EU.

One of the first organisms in which Barcelona showed interest following ‘Brexit’ is the European Medicine Agency, currently based in London. On this topic, Baiget said this Monday that the Government ‘is working very seriously’ to have the institution relocated to Barcelona.

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