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.
Josep 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.