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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Business Group: Spain a Gateway to Latin American Market

TOKYO – The Spanish Business Council for Competitiveness, or CEC, brought its “Spain: A Land of Opportunities” report to the Japanese capital on Friday, presenting the Iberian nation as an attractive investment destination and a gateway to the Latin American market.

It is easier to do business in Latin America, where Japanese companies are making a big push in areas such as energy, mining and infrastructure, “with the support of large Spanish companies” already well entrenched in that region, CEC executive director Fernando Casado said.

Spanish multinationals that are well-positioned in the emerging Latin American market, where many countries are growing at a clip of more than 5 percent annually, can offer Japanese business leaders “everything from financing to local knowledge” and other services, Casado said.

For his part, Alfredo Pastor, a professor at the IESE Business School and erstwhile Spanish secretary of state for economic affairs, said Spain offers ideal conditions for automakers such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

The CEC unveiled an optimistic forecast for Spain in the third-to-last stop of its 23-city international road show to promote investment in the Iberian nation, which is still suffering the effects of the collapse of a long-building housing bubble.

The report projects that Spain, which has been mired in recession since the end of 2011, will grow 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

“Labor market and financial-sector reforms will allow Spain to move from recession to growth,” Juan Rodriguez Inciarte, executive director of Banco Santander and one of the presenters of the report, said.

The executive cited exports as a key engine of future Spanish growth, saying the country will start posting a trade surplus next year due in part to the geographical diversification of exports to emerging markets in Africa and Latin America.

Indeed, Spain’s Economy Ministry said Friday that the country posted a trade surplus of 634.9 million euros ($820 million) in March, its first since records began to be kept in 1971.

“Spain has some unique conditions that make it attractive for foreign investment,” including an abundant supply of skilled labor and financial products – such as Spanish government bonds – that generally offer favorable returns, Rodriguez added.

The CEC, created by 17 of Spain’s leading corporations and the Instituto de la Empresa Familiar (Family Business Institute), will wrap up its road show with two final presentations on Monday and Tuesday in Mexico City and Bogota.

Casado said the response thus far has been “very positive.”

The CEC includes Spanish corporate giants such as Telefonica, El Corte Ingles, Mango, Grupo Barcelo, Banco Santander, Repsol, Acciona, La Caixa, BBVA, Inditex, Grupo Planeta, Mapfre, ACS, Ferrovial, Havas Media Group, Mercadona and Iberdrola. EFE


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