Spain has in store for Korean companies attractive investment in infrastructure development on third countries, in renewable energy, automotive, real estate--and many more...
By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporters Kim Jung-mi, Sua Kim
“Spain offers one of the most attractive Investment Incentives systems in the EU. Korean companies can have access to regional incentives grants in 80% of the Spanish territory, soft loans for industrial investments, subsidies and tax incentives for R&D activities, Social Security rebates for job creation and training as well as the benefits that the Treaty on Avoidance of Double Taxation with Korea establishes,” stated Commercial Counsellor Mr. Antonio Estévez at a recent interview with The Korea Post media for publication.
Then he said: “We also offer a ‘Golden Visa’ scheme to Korean investors and expats who are going to work for Korean companies in Spain with a fast track of 10 days for visa clearance and 20 days for residence permits. Finally, we cannot forget the important advantage offered by Spain in terms of strategic location as a platform to enter not only into other European countries but also into Latin American markets.”
Commecial Counsellor Xxx spoke on a wide range of topics at the interview, which included plans to invite Korean copnaies to invest in her country, areas of investment desired, items desired to import from Korea and export to Korea, and the tourist and rest-recuperation resources in Spain. Details of the inrterview follow:
Question: Does your country have any plan to invite Korean companies to invest in your country? Many Korean companies are seeking new investment destination countries following the unfavorable conditions increasing in other countriese?
Answer: First of all, let me say that foreign investment promotion has always played an important role within the Spanish Government’s strategy for the internationalization of the Spanish economy and a more sustainable and balanced economic growth. We understand that foreign investment and export promotion are two sides of the same coin, as both activities are aimed at reaching the same final objective: a deeper and more diversified internationalization of Spanish economy in general terms.
In this regard, we want to see Korean companies playing a leading role in this strategy and this is one area where Spanish authorities and ICEX Spain Export and Investment (the Spanish public institution designed and created to provide support and assistance to Spanish companies in their process of internationalization) would like to focus their attention in the near future.
Let me tell you that within ICEX we have a special organism to deal with foreign investment promotion, called “INVEST IN SPAIN”, with a similar role of KOTRA in Korea. Any Korean company interested in exploring the Spanish market for prospective investments in Spain can have a first approach visiting their web page:
Finally, let me say that we are receiving regularly in Seoul the visit of Invest in Spain to get in touch with potential Korean investors. Besides that, we are already giving full support to Korean companies willing to travel to Spain to get a better knowledge on Spanish sectorial investment opportunities.
Q: What are the specific areas where you might want Korean companies to invest? Please elaborate.
A: There are many sectors where we see potential investment opportunities for Korean companies in Spain: Automotive industry, ICT, Chemicals, Equipment goods or Energy are just some examples. I believe there are quite many complementarities between both countries in the different business areas, and Korean companies that already have a productive base in Spain keep giving us a very positive feedback on their current operations and prospects. The Spanish Government has no preferences in terms of type of companies or sectors to be targeted. They are all welcomed, as Spain has one of the most open investment frameworks in the world. It is the job of the companies to explore and tap the opportunities that Spain is currently offering.
Q: Does your country have any specific items to purchase from, or export to, Korea? Please elaborate because Korean companies now wish to drastically increase their interaction with such companies.
A: We see good export opportunities for Spanish companies in the Korean market in different sectors, mainly the food & wine sector (gourmet products, olive oil, wine and spirits, pork meat, etc), consumer goods incorporating design, innovation and high quality materials (fashion and apparel, footwear, decoration items, furniture, etc), industrial products (renewable energy equipment, components and spare parts for automotive industry, electrical and mechanical machinery, etc).
Given the similar level of technology and knowhow achieved by Korean and Spanish construction and engineering companies, the possibility to combine financing capabilities of both countries and the international experience of our companies, we also see great opportunities for industrial bilateral cooperation in the development of innovation projects either in Korea or Spain and the joint implementation of infrastructure projects on third countries (Latin America, Asia or Africa). We already have a few successful examples of such cooperation in the past and should strengthen that approach in the future.
Finally, we believe that the services sector, and particularly tourism, provides excellent opportunities for further cooperation between our companies.
From the Korean export point of view, we think that the best opportunities on the Spanish market are present in the automotive sector, industrial machinery and chemicals.
Q: What are the areas where your country wishes to increase cooperation with Korean companies?
A: There are two specific areas where we would like to increase our cooperation with Korean firms. One has already been mentioned, i.e. the joint participation in infrastructure development projects on third countries.
The second area is the promotion of Korean investment in Spain. We want to give more special attention to this matter in the near future as we think there is a great scope for improvement and progress. We see great investment opportunities in Spain for Korean companies in sectors such as renewable energy, automotive, real estate, logistics and transport, etc.
Q: Who is your government minister in charge of international trade and commerce with countries such as Korea? Please elaborate on the minister and provide us with a copy of his/her picture for publication.
A: International trade and commerce is under the competence of the Secretary of State for Trade, which has an institutional dependency from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
The Secretary of State for Trade main activities and responsibilities are related to the definition, development and execution of the State trade policy, including all matters affecting foreign and domestic trade. It is also competent as for foreign investments and transactions as well as activities related to the promotion and internationalization of Spanish companies.
From the Secretary of State for Trade depends ICEX España Exportación e Inversiones, a Spanish official institution with a number of responsibilities similar to KOTRA in Korea. ICEX is a national public entity whose general mission is to promote the internationalization of Spanish companies in order to foster their level of competitiveness and provide more value to the Spanish economy. ICEX’s mission also includes the promotion and attraction of foreign investments to Spain.
The current Secretary of State for Trade and President of ICEX Spain Export and Investment (her appointment was in November 2016) is Mrs. Maria Luisa Poncela García. She was appointed in November 2016.
(See resume at the end of this report.)
Q: Any Korean business people wish to have sufficient rest and recuperation. What are the tourist attractions in your country?
A: Tourism has become in recent years one of the most important drivers in our economic and commercial relations. In 2017 more than 440,000 Korean tourists visited Spain (showing an increase of 41% with respect to 2016), making Korea our third largest market in Asia after China and Japan. With the introduction this year of new direct flights to Spain by Asiana Airlines, we expect a new important increase in the number of Korean tourists visiting Spain.
There are many tourist attractions in Spain but let me make a brief reference to some of them:
1) Weather: Although Spain is renowned for sun and heat, it is actually a land of contrasts, where visitors can enjoy different climates. Of course, tourists are attracted by the summer weather, but any time is good to visit Spain because the warm temperatures continue all year round in places such as the Canary Islands. And for those visitors who seek cooler temperatures, the north of Spain never disappoints. Winter sports lovers can also find snowy environments in different parts of our country.
b) Artistic and cultural heritage: Spain’s unique heritage features myriad treasures of incalculable artistic, historical, and cultural value. Our rich heritage is endorsed by UNESCO: its World Heritage list includes more than 45 cultural and natural gems in Spain, including the cave paintings of Altamira and the “Camino de Santiago”. Our country also has more than 15 elements on its Intangible Cultural Heritage list and, apart from natural sites, castles, palaces, cathedrals, and festivals and other traditions, Spain has world-famous museums (Prado, Reina Sofía, Guggenheim Bilbao, etc.) and some stunning examples of the architectural avant-garde, such as the Guggenheim Bilbao, among many others.
c) Safety: According to UN data, our country is the sixth safest in the world. Moreover, Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, ranking as the third safest in the EU. According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, Spain ranks 15th worldwide with regard to national and personal security.
d) Nature and landscapes: Forests, deserts, steep mountains, vast plains, dormant volcanoes, rough seas, beaches with calm waters... Spain offers landscapes full of contrasts, where you can find beauty everywhere.
e) Transportation: The Spanish infrastructure network allows you to move around our country quickly and comfortably, whether by car, bus, or train, including high-speed railways. Moreover, Spanish ports and airports are more than prepared to receive the millions of tourists who decide to visit us every year (82 million in 2017).
f) Gastronomy: Spain has 195 restaurants with stars in the prestigious Michelin Guide, and 11 of them have three stars, its highest accolade—all numbers indicating the international recognition of Spanish food. In addition to our high-end cuisine, pintxos and tapas are world famous, and our traditional recipes are also highly appreciated. The secret of Spanish cuisine is our wide variety of high-quality products including olive oil, cheese, wine, Iberian pork, fish and seafood.
g) Shopping: Spain is a real shopping paradise: clothing, shoes, and accessories of national and international designers; from haute couture to major chain stores; from top brands to small boutiques. You can also find local crafts and culinary delights when visiting our traditional food markets and street markets.
h) Sporting events: Spain boasts a pantheon of star athletes, and sports play an important role in our society. The “king” is, of course, football, as shown by the success of matches among Spanish League teams, including Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. However, basketball, tennis, motorcycle racing, sailing, surfing, golf, and skiing--among others--all have major sporting events along the year.
i) Festivals and music concerts:
The top national and international groups and soloists always have Spain on their concert tours. Some of the most attractive festivals are Benicàssim (FIB), Bilbao BBK Live, Sónar, Primavera Sound, Mad Cool Festival, Viña Rock, Jazzaldia, and Starlite. But no matter what is your favorite style of music, it is safe to say that every month of the year, music lovers can come and enjoy a good concert in Spain.
j) Celebrations and traditions:
In every Spanish town, there is a festivity to celebrate. Some of the best-known events are Fiestas de San Fermín in Pamplona, the Fallas in Valencia, the Tomatina in Buñol, and the April Fair in Seville. There are also religious events, such as Holy Week in Andalusia (especially in Seville and Malaga) and Castile and Leon (Valladolid and Zamora), the Mystery Play of Elche, and the Chant of the Sybil in Majorca—these last two are on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Q: Please introduce yourself fully as the prospective Korean business leaders might wish to meet with you in person.
A: As you can see from my CV I have been dedicating my whole professional career to the public sector, working at the Ministry of Trade (now Secretary of State for Trade under the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) since 1979.
Almost my entire professional experience has been spent either abroad (as Economic and Commercial Counsellor of Spanish Embassy in different countries) or within Spain, as Regional Director representing the Secretariat of State of Trade and ICEX ESPAÑA EXPORTACION E INVERSIONES on different locations (including Basque Country, Aragón, Barcelona, etc). I also spent two years (2006-2008) in Tunis, as Senior Counsellor of Spain at the African Development Bank.
In this already long career my family and especially my wife Charo have always played a critical role and I am really grateful for that, as she has always given me her full support and encouragement in our different working professional destinations…
In these 39 years I have witnessed of course a lot of changes, especially in my own country. Spain is today a modern and well developed European democracy, with a fully internationalized economy. Spanish and Korean economies have certain similarities in terms of GDP size, income per capita, infrastructure development, industrial technology capabilities, etc and we should be able to exploit together those things in common.
Our companies have already a strong presence in European and Latin American markets, but we still have a gap to be filled in Asian markets. We know it is a challenge for us but we also know that we have at companies’ level the right products, capabilities and technology to fill that gap. The Spanish Government is committed to develop in Korea a well-defined strategy in order to strengthen in the near future our presence in Asian markets and more particularly in Korea.
Resume of Secretary of State for Trade Madam Marisa Poncela Garcia:
Secretart Marisa Garcia holds a Degree in Economics from the University of Zaragoza and belongs to the Spanish Corps of State Economists and Trade Experts.
In November 2016 she was appointed Secretary of State for Trade and President of ICEX Spain Export and Investment, President of the State Risks Committee and President of the executive committees of the funds for the promotion of business internationalization FIEM, FIEX and FONPYME.
From 2013 to 2016, she was Secretary-General for Science and Innovation and President of the Center for Industrial and Technological Development (CDTI) and of its two venture capital companies INNVIERTE SCR and NEOTEC Capital Riesgo, as well as President of the National Supercomputing Center in Barcelona.
In 2012 she was appointed Director General for Innovation and Competitiveness.
She had previously been Head of the Cabinet of the Secretary-General for Innovation and of the Secretary-General of Industry; Deputy Director-General for Regional Incentives, Deputy Director-General for the Promotion of Industrial Innovation and Deputy Director-General for Technological Programs.
She has also been Economic and Commercial Advisor at the Spanish Embassy in Hungary and Deputy Assistant Director General for Tariff Policy and Cross-border Transactions as well as Technical Advisor to the Technical Vice-secretariat of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
In the private sector, she has been Director of Institutional Relations at Abbott Laboratories, S.A. and Director General of the Abbott Foundation.