Madrid admits independence process has no impact on foreign investment in Catalonia

Spain’s Deputy Trade Minister, María Luisa Poncela, also acknowledged that being the country’s capital gives Madrid an edge, but stated that “there are no deviations”

“There is no evidence to suggest that a political process of any kind is putting foreign investors off Catalonia”. Spain’s Deputy Trade Minister, María Luisa Poncela, was very clear on Tuesday at a breakfast-with-media event hosted by Nueva Economía Forum and chaired by Luis de Guindos, the Spanish Minister of Economy. Poncela was categorical when she stated that “there is a lot of talk about Catalonia, but when you look at the figures, it’s inconsequential”.

The high-ranking ministry official explained that Catalonia accounts for 25 per cent of Spain’s total exports and emphasised that it has traditionally been that way “and it will stay that way”. When asked what she thought of Madrid drawing more foreign spending than Catalonia (as shown by the ministry’s latest figures), the deputy minister noted that “Catalonia remains as attractive as it was a few years ago” and pointed to the capital city effect as one of the reasons: “While it’s true that the seat effect is particularly relevant in Madrid’s case, we have not noticed any significant seat deviations at any point”.

Furthermore, Poncela argued in her address that Spain has become a powerful exporting economy and that the sector’s positive performance is not accidental, but structural. The Spanish official also spoke in favour of international trade agreements, such as the TTIP and CETA.

Retail business hours

When asked about the deregulation of retail business hours and its potential effect in Catalonia, Poncela noted that “the time to debate over shops’ opening hours has passed because they are no longer competing against the larger retailers, but against online shopping portals”. Poncela highlighted the fact that e-commerce giants such as Amazon have closed deals with local markets in order to sell their produce online.

All indicators will be reviewed upwards, ahead of the new budget

Before the start of the event, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos confirmed the announcement made by the Spanish Finance Minister on Monday who assured that Spain will see a greater drop in its public deficit for 2016, down to 4.3 per cent (Brussels demands 4.6). Luis de Guindos announced that the Spanish government will be reviewing its macroeconomic forecast for this year to include a larger contribution from exports, as well as a greater drop in unemployment. “Our economy will grow at the same rate, but there will be internal changes in the forecast to reflect a greater contribution from exports and better employment figures”, the minister said.

He insisted that “we are always prudent when it comes to forecasts because that way it is easier to execute the budget”.

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