The following are details of an interview with Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz Diaz-Tortosa of Spain in Seoul concerning the New Year Plan of Spain conducted by The Korea Post on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of The Korea Post.?Ed.
Question: What is the estimated economic growth of your country for the New Year? Do you have any important economic development plan?
Answer: The economy of Spain undergoes a remarkable recovery. In 2014, the GPD growth will be 1.4% in 2014 (the highest rate in the Eurozone), and it is expected to speed up in upcoming years. For 2015, the estimated growth is 2.0%, based on steady domestic demand, increasing investment and solid exports. Low prices and higher productivity are producing competitiveness gains and a gradual improvement of the unemployment rate. Several plans are being developed in order to boost economic growth. We could point out the following:
- National Reform Program: package of measures aimed at strengthening the financial system, increasing flexibility in labor relations, and efficiency and competitiveness of the Spanish Economy. Significant reforms in the labor market, the financial sector, and the public sector have been undertaken and will be reinforced.
- Stability Program: fiscal consolidation and budgetary stability is central to economic policy of Spain as they are necessary preconditions for sustainable economic growth and job creation.
- Single Market Guarantee Law: better regulation to remove barriers and recreate the framework required to encourage competition and investment.
Q: Which industrial areas are expected to be most active? What are your main exports to Korea?
A: The Spanish economy has been especially active in the fields of infrastructures, engineering, renewable energy, biotechnology, machinery and the automotive sector. Other industries related to the consumer sector, such us clothing, footwear and furniture are also very dynamic, as well as the food and beverages sector.
In 2013, Spanish exports to the Republic of Korea reached 1,400 million dollars and, in 2014 are expected to exceed 2,500 million dollars. The vigor of the Korean economy and the increasing competitiveness of Spanish products, together with the application of the Free Trade Agreement between ROK and the European Union explain that upward trend.
The main Spanish exports to Korea are mineral fuels, cars and car parts, machinery, pharmaceutical products, chemical products, fashion (textile and footwear), pork meat, olive oil and wine.
Q: Which industries are best fit for the prospective Korean businesses to invest in?
A: Highly skilled and experienced labor force, relative low labor costs, increasing productivity and efficient communications create a perfect business environment and convert the Spanish economy into an attractive destination for investment. Furthermore, fiscal incentives and labor market reform make the investments easier.
We believe the areas of excellence of the Korean economy like electronics and automotive, so as food and gastronomy and energy and environment are very attractive, given our development in these fields, but Information and communication techonologies are also very interesting.
The timing is perfect for more investment in the hospitality and real estate markets, since prices are just starting to recover after a fall of almost 40% in the last five years.
Other industries also display growing opportunities are biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, logistics, aerospace and chemicals.
Q: Who are the Korean small-medium enterprises presently active in your country?
A: The main Korean companies are already present in the Spanish market. Some of them, such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai/KIA or Korean Air, are already performing well. Others, such as SK Lubricants, GS Group, Hanjin Shipping and Miwon Chemicals, have relevant investments in Spain.
Q: Do you have economic-business delegations scheduled to visit to Korea in the New Year?
A: The interest in Korean market is increasing among Spanish companies. For 2015 several commercial and investment missions are expected from Spain, organized by both regional organizations and sectorial associations.
Spain will also be present in the main commercial exhibitions taking place in ROK, with national pavilions in events like Seoul Food & Hotel, G-Staror the World Water Forum, among others.
On top of that, exhibitions about Spanish fashion and Spanish food are organized regularly in Seoul.
Q: Any cultural events in Korea? If yes, please elaborate.
A: 2015 represents the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Spain and Korea. In order to commemorate this event the Spanish embassy plans some exhibitions and concerts during this year.
The project Power to the people” by the Spanish author Julio Falag?n will try to bring all closer to contemporary art, erasing the barrier between high and low culture; making works with a critical and theoretical content of quality but of easy reading. Power to the People! consists of 5 small format works, together with 5 series of posters each reproducing one of the original works, that people will be invited to take home with them, becoming then art collector, something usually reserved for a few.
These small format works are made through the manipulation of popular prints bought in flea markets. Using this base of popular aesthetic, all the spectators will recognize as own this sphere and if it comes next to the word free, this approach will be even more fruitful. A game of concepts which reflects on popular art, the original, the serialized work, the art market and definitely on the limits of contemporary art, questioning its structure.
Another event will be the exhibition “Under the Half Moon: Flamenco, Poetry and Visual Culture” that will focus on flamenco from a contemporary perspective in the current social environment.
There will be other activities related to the IV centenary of the release of the classic “Don Quixote¨ by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: conferences, theater, and public diplomacy with the invitation of high profile Spanish intellectuals.
Q: What is the view of your Head of Government concerning Korea? Please briefly introduce your Head of Government.
A: The Spanish government greatly appreciates the outstanding state of bilateral relations between Spain and Korea, a country that considers an essential partner in Asia. The deep mutual understanding remained clear in the meeting between HM King Felipe Vi and President Park Geun-hye held in September 2014 on the margins of the General Assembly in New York.
The relative economic bonanza in 2015 in both countries and the size of the respective markets offer wide opportunities for improved trade and investment relations. Our Prime Minister and his government work for the intensification of such exchanges, particularly promising in many sectors: infrastructures and construction, food industry, textile and footwear, automotive industry, energy and environment, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, logistics, aerospace…
During 2015, our presence in the UN Security Council as Non Permanent members offers an excellent opportunity to improve our already close collaboration and understanding in many fields of the multilateral and global agenda.
Mariano Rajoy Brey (born 27 March 1955) has been the Spanish Prime Minister since December 2011, after the People’s Party victory in the general election held on 20th November 2011. He has been the leader of the People’s Party since 2004. Under previous governments, Mariano Rajoy was Minister of Public Administration from 1996 to 1999 and Minister of Education from 1999 to 2000; he then served as first Deputy Prime Minister from 2000 to 2003. Mr. Rajoy was also Leader of the Spanish Parliamentary Opposition from 2004 to 2011. He visited Seoul in March 2012, attending the Nuclear Security Summit.
Q: Please briefly explain about yourself:
A: I am a career diplomat, dedicated now to promote bilateral relations between Korea and Spain and contribute to the rapprochement and maybe reunification between to the two Koreas.
As a passionate believer in the future and present realities of the East Asian and Pacific countries ,I am an old Asia hand having served in India, China (two terms), Japan ,Vietnam and last but not least Australia