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On a business promotion mission to London, Javier Celdràn Lorente, minister of employment, universities, business and environment for the Spanish region of Murcia, spoke to Courtney Fingar about Spain’s revival and opportunities presented by Brexit.

Q: The Spanish economy has recovered very well from the 2012 European sovereign debt crisis [when the country had to seek a €100bn rescue package from the European Stability Mechanism] and is now experiencing something of an FDI boom, with fDi Intelligence reporting a 19% increase in FDI projects into Spain in 2017. Have these positive trends been seen in Murcia as well, and what do you think is behind it?

A: Yes, it is a good moment for Europe and for Spain, which is leading economic growth all around Europe, and in our region of Murcia we are leading the growth of the Spanish economy, so it is a good opportunity for investing in our region. All the policies that we have been implementing for reducing red tape, for improving infrastructure, and for [encouraging entrepreneurship] have been helping companies to establish in Murcia. There are a lot of companies looking at medium-sized cities and regions, such as Murcia, because today companies are looking primarily for talent. We have talent, and we have infrastructure that links us easily with Madrid, Barcelona, London and with all the capitals in Europe. 

The region of Murcia is also an incredible hub to do business with Latin American countries. We are now exporting to 180 countries and for a small region like us, with only 1.5 million inhabitants, we have all the ingredients to be a good region for investment.

Q: You are here in the UK promoting investment into Murcia. To what extent is Brexit an opportunity for a region such as yours?

A: Brexit is a good opportunity for companies all around Europe to step outside their comfort zone. We don’t know what will finally happen with Brexit but I think in the past months many companies in Spain are thinking to invest in the UK, just in case, and for many companies in the UK it is the same – they are looking to go more global and looking for new points in Europe to establish their offices and looking to new international markets. So Brexit can be an opportunity in the future, but it depends what will happen [with trading arrangements] and all these issues. We must assess whether Brexit is an opportunity or a challenge for companies. We believe companies in Murcia are going to look for the opportunities of Brexit.  

Q: There is a new prime minister in Spain [Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party assumed office in June 2018]. What do you expect from the new government and what would be helpful to your region, and especially to your efforts in attracting investment?

A: The [previous] government of Mariano Rajoy did a good job over the past four or five years. Spain had great problems just six or seven years ago, and that government did a good job to get to the point where we are leading the growth of the EU. We hope the new government will continue with some of the same strategies [regarding] labour and international issues, and make the economy in Spain more stable.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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