María Reyes Maroto Illera

María Reyes Maroto Illera, Spain’s minister of commerce, industry and tourism, explains why the country is a top destination for foreign investment, and how it is embracing and preparing for accelerated digitalisation. 

Q: What are the main opportunities you would like to highlight for foreign investors? 

A: In Spain, there are big and diversified opportunities across different sectors, such as transport, agriculture, technology and aeronautics. The company Talgo is a good example of a big business that is designing cutting-edge technology in trains. 

Globally, Spain is one of the leading [destinations] for foreign investment, and we want to make sure it maintains that position. One way of doing that is [ensuring] legal security for businesses, and for all financial investment. Our talent and human capital are also attractive, especially in the digital sectors. 

Spain’s geographical position is another attraction; as well as access to 500 million people across Europe, it has connections with Africa and Latin America. 

We are improving the infrastructure for tourism, making our locations and cities more friendly towards tourism. We are creating new tourist products and are hoping that the investors can accompany them. [Remember], Spain’s tourism was not affected much by the financial crisis.

Q: What is the biggest hurdle for foreign investment into Spain?

A: The two biggest challenges are digitalisation and environmental sustainability, both of which are going to create big opportunities and improve people’s standard of living. However, investment has to be made in human capital and especially in training for an increasingly digital and environmentally sustainable future.

Spain is a good market with respect to internet fibre broadband because it is has one of the best networks in the world, as well as a cluster of leading tech companies. [Our] programme ‘Spain - Entrepreneurial State’ is working to help start-ups [take off]: our start-up scene is thriving. One of the key digital markets that Spain is tackling is interconnected transport. We want to improve the transport sector with cars that are interconnected and smart, while also increasing de-carbonisation, and for that, there is a lot of investment to be made. 

Q: To what extent do you think the Spanish population needs to increase its knowledge of the English language?

A: Bilingualism is a strong bet here. In fact, it’s one of the strengths of our education system, and in the secondary  system, most subjects are also done in English. English is the global language and is a necessity for our kids and for our students to be well formed. However, foreign investment is not based on language, but by the offer that every country has. 

[Moreover], Spain has an important international role. The prime minister Pedro Sánchez has restored the power that the government has in the European Union, in the G20 and at the Davos summit. He has defended our position in those important decision-making forums. If you are not present at these forums you cannot make decisions, you cannot give better support to investment. Our prime minister is internationalising Spain and defending our role in financial investments abroad, and good investment policy domestically. 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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