Q What are the Navarre government’s political and economic priorities for 2010?
A We will carry on implementing the recovery plan we put into effect with regard to fiscal policies aimed at stimulating consumer demand, promoting R&D and helping our companies to gain access to international markets. We are now looking at further measures to ensure we remain the Spanish region with the lowest unemployment and with a level of debt as a percentage of GDP well below the national average. The success of these measures is reflected in our AAA rating, compared with the recent downgrade to AA+ for the Kingdom of Spain. According to Standard & Poor’s, this rating reflects our special fiscal status, which allows Navarre to levy and collect our own taxes.
Q What sectors are you targeting to attract more FDI?
A We are particularly interested in promoting high value-added sectors, such as alternative energy, sustainable agribusiness, biomedicine, health services, medical equipment, business services and R&D and innovation, to name a few. In health services alone, we see the potential to turn Navarre into the Houston of Spain. Our detailed plan of action will be launched shortly and the keynote is to take Navarre into the international arena.
Q What are Navarre’s competitive advantages compared with other autonomous regions of Spain?
A We offer easy direct access to the administration [regional government] and we can move swiftly to approve incentives for investment in strategic areas that generate employment, as well as R&D, nanotechnology and agribusiness, to name a few. We are also looking closely to develop our medical research facilities, which is a key sector for us. The University of Navarre is a leader in this area and is working to set up three new R&D centres.
Q There are at present no direct international air connections to Pamplona. What do you tell investors who are concerned about this handicap?
A Construction will start next year on the high-speed passenger and freight train that will link Pamplona to Madrid and Barcelona in an hour and a half, as well as provide a rapid connection to the EU market via France. We are expanding our airport and there will be an increase in the number of domestic flights, and we do not rule out the future possibility of flights to foreign destinations such as London or Frankfurt. In any case, the lack of international flights has not been a deterrent to multinational companies, including Volkswagen, whose Pamplona plant is the company’s most efficient in Europe.
Q On the political front, what has been the impact on your relations with the neighbouring Basque Country after the defeat of the Basque Nationalist Party in recent elections?
A It has been very positive. The previous Basque administration behaved in a confrontational manner, but political tensions have now been eliminated and we are working together on economic and social development.
Q What do you consider the key factors an investor should know about Navarre?
A Investors should be aware that they will always have access to the government and that we are keen to work closely with them at every stage to solve any problems that may arise. Navarre’s unique fiscal status allows us a great deal of flexibility. We are focused on an economy of ‘talent’, which means that in Navarre investors will find a large pool of highly skilled graduates in all key sectors of the economy. In financial services, Caja Navarra is one of the most dynamic institutions in Spain, an internationally focused bank that has become a pioneer in consolidating the industry on a national level and offers a unique business model called ‘civic banking’, in which customers have a direct say in where the bank’s money is invested.
1996Government of Navarre
1991Government of Navarre
1989Navarrese People’s Union