Multinationals for the Spain Brand, a key to competitiveness

  • Marca España

Multinationals for the Spain Brand, a key to competitiveness

Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner for Marca España, highlighting the role played by international firms established in Spain in the modernisation of the country. Photo: Multinationals for the Spain Brand Annual Conference.
Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner for Marca España, highlighting the role played by international firms established in Spain in the modernisation of the country. Photo: Multinationals for the Spain Brand Annual Conference.

The association Foreign Multinationals for the Spain Brand has held its annual conference, gathering experts and representatives of international firms established in Spain, who discussed competitiveness issues, the current needs of the Spanish economy, and the role played by big foreign companies in it.

In his opening speech at the conference, this year titled ‘Competitiveness in the Spanish Economy: The Role of Multinational Corporations’, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner for Marca España, said, ‘Spain is a land of opportunity where investment pays off.’ The conference took place at Giner de los Ríos Foundation in Madrid on 14 November.

Our High Commissioner insisted on the role played by international firms established in Spain in the modernisation of the country: ‘If there is a tester for a country’s relevance it is the capacity to attract and retain foreign companies. Every executive at a multinational corporation in our country is an ambassador of our nation brand, making it more attractive, protecting it and thus contributing to our economic growth,’

In his speech, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis, encouraged multinationals to continue investing in the Spanish market: ‘We will work together to make Spain stronger and more reliable as we stick to development, internationalisation and innovation.’ ‘Our country meets all the requirements to attract more foreign investment,’ he added.

Multinationals for R&D+i

Emilio Ontiveros, Professor of Economics and Chairman of Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI), emphasised the role played by multinationals in boosting innovation: ‘Multinationals account for more than 25% of the total R&D+i investment in Spain. And without innovation, there is no sustainable growth in the medium and long term.’

According to a report by Multinationals for the Spain Brand, The Role of Foreign Multinational Companies in Spanish Innovation, this share is even higher, reaching up to 35%.

Mr Ontiveros spoke in the panel on ‘The Role of Multinational Companies in the Competitiveness of the Spanish Economy,’ also featuring Juan Pedro Moreno, Chairman of Accenture Spain, Portugal and Israel; Jon Fernández de Barrena, CEO of Altadis; Héctor Flórez, Managing Partner of Deloitte Spain; Mark Hall, CEO of HSBC Spain; and Iñigo Churruca, CEO of ING Spain and Portugal.

Spain’s attractiveness as an investment destination was one of the topics discussed at the conference. In 2016, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country grew by 22%, going beyond 28,000 million euro and placing us among the top FDI destinations according to OECD.

At present, multinational corporations have more than 12,300 subsidiaries in Spain. According to the latest Subsidiaries of Foreign Companies in Spain (FILINT) Statistics published by the National Statistics Institute (INE), their turnover amounts to 500,000 million euro and they give jobs to 1.3 million people.

Furthermore, foreign investment is a driver of Spanish exports, which continue to hit new record highs. Exports account for 33% of the Spanish GDP, and according to Ministry of Economy estimates, they could reach 35% by 2019.

Digitisation, a pillar of development

The panel titled ‘Digital Transformation and Innovation: Pillars of Spanish Development’ featured Ignacio Rel, Head of Consulting at EY; Javier Solans, CEO of P&G Iberia; Jesús Sánchez Bargos, Chairman of Thales Spain; and Irene Cano, CEO of Facebook Spain and Portugal, who talked about our country’s entrepreneurial network: ‘Spain has lots of startup communities to rival other countries.’

Multinationals for the Spain Brand suggested its Maxims for Innovation to improve the Spanish R&D+i system and increase the country’s capacity to attract and retain investment. The maxims include digitising the economy, promoting public-private cooperation, encouraging innovation and supporting talent, among others.

Finally, there was a panel on education: ‘The Education We Need in Twenty-First-Century Spain: Challenging Employability and Talent’. Its participants were José Antonio Marina, philosopher, writer and educator; Francisco Ruiz Antón, Director of Public Policy and Institutional Relations at Google Spain and Portugal; Raúl Grijalba Pérez-Alfaro, Executive Chairman at ManpowerGroup Spain; Francisco Belil, Deputy Chairman of Bertelsmann Foundation; and Conrado Briceño, CEO of Universidad Europea.

They all highlighted the importance of learning from the environment and doing so quickly to produce talent. ‘The function of education is to produce talent. Learning must be acquired not only by individuals but by organisations as well,’ Mr Marina said.

Other speakers insisted on the importance of lifelong learning, as well as one the need for joint curriculum design with companies. They also remarked on the role of occupational training in the availability of highly qualified professionals.