Spain bans foreign promotion of Port of Barcelona

Spanish ministry prevents Port Authority from sending representatives on a commercial mission

It was announced last year, but in the end no representative for the Port Authority of Barcelona (APB) will join the Port's commercial mission to Argentina and Uruguay, starting Saturday and for all of next week. Only businesspeople from the Port community will participate. The reason: the verbal notification that the APB received from the Secretary of Promotion asking it not to participate in the mission because the Foreign Ministry does not want Catalan promotion abroad. This was explained to ARA by Port sources, who said that there was no attempt to limit the appearances of institutional representatives to the economic area --leaving aside the political debate-- but, rather, that they were told outright that no participation by APB representatives would be allowed. The mission, then, will go ahead without any institutional representation of the entity that organized it.

This would have been the nineteenth year that a commercial mission was led by the APB, together with the port community (consignees, shipping companies, importers and exporters, etc.). Last year's event was the first with a double destination, Panama and Cuba, and the president of the entity, Sixte Cambra, gave it a very positive review and announced, in November of last year, that the 2017 event locations would be Argentina and Uruguay. The political situation, however, forced the APB to change its plans, although it had been preparing this mission for months.

Although the Port of Barcelona has its own Board of Directors, it reports to Puertos del Estado (Spanish Ports), which in turn reports to Spain’s Ministry of Promotion. It was this latter that communicated unofficially that the Spanish government had rejected activities such as the mission scheduled for this week in South America. The Port's Board of Directors includes representatives of the Spanish government, the Generalitat, and the Barcelona City Hall, and the agreement in force is that the Catalan government names the president --in this case Mr Cambra, who has held the position since 2011, and who was a senator for Convergència i Unió, even though he was not a member of either party in that coalition.

The mission, which begins Saturday November 11th, has a busy agenda in cities such as Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and this schedule will continue unchanged despite the prohibition of any participation by representatives of the Port Authority. The participating companies have decided to move forward with it, given the good results that they believe can be achieved through these gatherings, and for the fact that the events had already been planned.

Last year's mission was attended by Josep Rull, Catalan Minister of Territory and Sustainability (currently in prison), and Jordi Baiget, then Minister of Business and Knowledge, as well as by the General Managers and secretaries of the two departments, consuls, and the Acció agency.

In total, 148 meetings were held, and the Port of Barcelona closed a deal with Panama's Secretary of Competition and Logistics to collaborate on the promotion of e-commerce and improvement of process management.

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