Josep Huguet i Biosca: Catalonia – Favoured destination for corporate investment

Catalonia, located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Medi­ter­ra­­­nean coast, is characterized by a very defined geographic diversity, an inexhaustible source of art and culture, and a dynamic and enterprising folk.

Catalonia is one of the main centres of European economic dynamism. It counts with a long-lasting industrial tradition and clearly aims for activities of high ad­­­­ded value. Catalonia, with one of the highest living standards in Europe, is a first-class environment for your bu­­siness and personal life.
These factors have not been overlooked by foreign investors, who have chosen Catalonia as the home of their corporate activities over the years.


Catalonia – Long tradition as recipient of foreign investment
Foreign direct investment (FDI) involves several positive aspects which turn it into an essential factor for the econo­mic development of a country. Apart from being a net income of external ca­pital, often including highly technological con­­­­tents, and improving the balance of trade, it also affects directly the changes of the current industrial grounds in areas like the net generation of new jobs and the continuous improvement of com­­­­­petitivity and management of lo­­cal com­­­panies. These benefits are not un­known to Catalonia, as a traditional recipient of FDI and have played an unquestionable role in the economic development.
The importance of FDI for Catalan econ­­omy in general, is fundamental: In 2006 our nation received about 3,000 million euros, as a whole; this figure represents 23 per cent of the total FDI re­­ceived by Spain in that year. More than 3,000 foreign companies are currently active in Catalonia, 34 per cent of the total number of multinational com­­panies in all of Spain. These companies re­­pre­­sent 11 per cent of the jobs and 20 per cent of the turnover of the total number of companies established in Catalonia. Also, 60 per cent of these com­­panies have been in our country for over ten years, which proves how highly stable and sa­­tisfied they feel in Catalonia.


Ten reasons for investing in Catalonia
Catalonia stands out for its “accumulative effect”, meaning the concurrence of the most favourable factors for in­­vest­­ment:

1. Centre of European economic dynamism
With a gross domestic product growth rate between 3 and 3.5 per cent – which is above the European Union’s average – Catalonia is one of Spain’s main econom­­ic engines, as well as one of the fastest developing regions of the Medi­terra­ne­an. It has become a new ever-growing area, contrasting with the traditional zones of economic development in Northern Europe.
2. Strategic geographical location
A great portion of the euro zone is with­­in a two hours’ flight from Barcelona. Due to its strategic geographic location, Ca­­talonia is the ideal launch pad for ac­­ces­­s­­ing different markets in Europe, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.

3. Extensive net of infrastructure
Catalonia counts with a vast and modern net of infrastructure, including three international airports (Barcelona, Reus and Girona), two of the most important harbours in the Mediterranean (Barce­lona and Tarragona), and a high-speed train line currently connecting Madrid with Tarragona and, in the near future, with the Catalan capital, Barcelona, and France.

4. Excellent network of suppliers for products and services
Another one of the advantages that com­­panies benefit from while being based in Catalonia is the extensive supply of quality products. Flexibility, reliability, customer orientation and personalized attention are some of the character­is­tics of the Catalan corporate services companies.

5. Motivated and qualified human resources
Catalonia counts with qualified, efficient, specialized and motivated human resources. There are multiple educational programmes, made up of more than 725 public and private schools with the highest standards, 24 international schools, and a network of 12 of the most prestigious universities and business schools in Europe, such as the IESE and the ESADE.

6. Multilingual population and multinational talent
Cosmopolitan milieu, excellent quality of life, and various professional oportunities, together with the ability to attract multinational talent, account for Ca­­ta­lonia’s large foreign community, which consisted of some 800,000 residents in 2006 – 11 per cent of the total po­­p­u­­lation.


7. Promotion of activities related to design, technology and innovation
Numerous research parks and centres support innovative activities in Cata­lonia, where companies are creating research and design centres using local talent and creativity. The reputation of Catalan universities plays a very important role in supporting the R&D activities in the private sector.

8. Stability and normative frames
As a member of the countries that are part of the euro zone, Catalonia benefits from a unified European currency and its advantages: stability for the currency, stability for the macroeconomy and the prices, standardized dis­­tribution agreements and lower transaction costs, apart from freedom of movement for people, goods, services and capital.

9. Excellent living standards
Catalan geography is rich and varied. The magnificent landscapes of the Me­­d­iterranean coast, as well as the inland mountains and valleys, make Catalonia a place where one can enjoy nature and sport. Let us not forget its great historic and artistic heritage, which ranges from the ancient Greek and Roman ruins to the works of universal artists, such as Gaudí, Dalí, Miró and Tàpies.
The Catalan capital, Barcelona, consolidates, year after year, its status as the best European city in terms of living standards. Barcelona has held this title since 1996, exceeding other European cities, such as Paris, London or Dublin (European Cities Monitor, 2006, Cush­man & Wakefield).


10. A pro-business government
The Catalan government supports cor­­porate activity and strategic change, pro­moting quality of the trades and com­­petitivity of the economy, apart from reinforcing ac­­tivities like research and development, innovation, technological exchange and internationalization of the local companies.

The main resource the government of the Generalitat de Cat­alunya uses for attracting pro­jects of corporate investment to the region is the Agencia Catalana de In­­versiones (Catalan Agency of Invest­ments).

Agencia Catalana de Inversiones – Experience and professionalism at the service of the companies
The Agencia Catalana de Inversiones is the division of the ACC1Ó, agency of the De­­parta­men­­to de In­­novación, Uni­versida­des y Em­­pre­­sa (Department of Inno­va­­tion, Uni­­versities and Enterprise), whose aim is to promote the establish­­ment of new corporate in­­vestments in Catalonia, considering as a priority those that are economically and technologically solid, capable of ge­­­nerating wealth and stable quality jobs and which are complemen­tary with the existing cor­­porate network of Catalonia.

With its headquarters in Barcelona, a local office in Madrid and foreign bran­ch­­­es in New York and Tokyo, the agency offers consulting and assistance services, adapting to the needs of the companies that contemplate the possibility of establishing or expanding their business in Catalonia.

huguet_01Josep Huguet i Biosca was born in Man­­­resa (Catalonia) in 1951. He is an in­­dustrial engineer from the Terrassa En­­­gineering School, and he has a degree in Con­­temporary History from the Auto­nomous University of Barcelona. On 29 November 2007, the President of the Govern­ment of Catalonia appointed him as Minister of Innovation, Uni­ver­sities and Enterprise.