Spain’s economic recovery — so far unchecked by the Catalan political crisis — has been accompanied by a strong rebound in FDI. The country attracted 385 greenfield FDI projects in 2017, 61 more than the year before and 133 more than in 2015, according to cross-border investment monitor fDi Markets. Greenfield capital investment hit $13.9bn in 2017, its highest level since 2008.
The top sector generating inbound projects in 2017 was software and IT services with 74, followed by business services and real estate. Ireland-based Accenture, a consulting and technology services firm, announced in December 2017 that it is expanding its technology centre in Seville, and will hire more than 600 people at its centres in Malaga and Seville, reaching 2600 workers in Andalusia and increasing its staff in Spain by 30% in 2018.
The real estate sector, hit hard by the global financial crisis and then later by southern Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, was the sector attracting the most greenfield capital investment, bringing in an estimated $2.6bn. This was followed by the automotives sector with $2.3bn and hotels and tourism at $2.2bn.
“There is a lot of confidence in Spain from foreign investors based on the structural reforms we’ve implemented,” says José Carlos García, executive director of Invest in Spain. “Since the crisis, our financial services sector has been successfully restructured and our economic deficits tamed. There is confidence in our economic policy.”
Spanish economic growth returned to pre-crisis levels in mid-2017, outpacing the EU average. The International Monetary Fund recently lowered its gross domestic performance growth forecast for Spain from 2.5% to 2.4% due to uncertainty surrounding Catalonia, which voted for independence late last year in a referendum the Spanish government deemed illegal. But the EU’s economic forecast was more optimistic about the Spanish economy’s ability to shrug off the Catalonia uncertainties and raised its 2018 growth projection for Spain from 2.5% to 2.6%. And the Spanish government said it plans to raise its own growth forecast from 2.3% to 2.5% or higher.