Barcelona launches itself as one of the main gateways of Europe for Chinese business

More than thirty Chinese companies and investment agencies have visited Barcelona in search of business opportunities. The Catalan capital is a gateway to the European market for Asian companies, thanks to its sea port, airport, geographic location and a dynamic and well connected economy. In addition, Barcelona is also a leading centre in the Euro-Mediterranean Area.

CNA / Esther Romagosa

October 20, 2011 10:48 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- A Chinese delegation of thirty companies and four investment agencies is spending three days in Barcelona to find out first-hand the business opportunities and advantages that the Catalan capital offers. They are participating in the first edition of the ‘China at Barcelona Summit’, which is organised by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, the Catalan savings bank ‘La Caixa’, and Mazars, with the support of the Catalan Government and Barcelona’s City Council. The initiative works as a platform to attract investments from China while explaining to Chinese business people the positive points of investing and doing business in Barcelona and Catalonia. Barcelona has been displaying its potential as one of Europe’s main gateways, thanks to its geographic location, sea port, international airport, connections with Central Europe, and also its dynamic economy. In addition, Barcelona is one of the leading centres in the Euro-Mediterranean Area, the seat of the Union for the Mediterranean and well connected with North Africa. Therefore, Barcelona can truly be the “key” element to help Chinese business enter the European market.

The first ‘China at Barcelona Summit’ is taking place from October 19th to October 21st. The Chinese delegation is formed by 30 companies and four investment agencies from Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, and from the Shandong Province. They have showed their interest in Barcelona and Catalonia, as a potential place to invest in. The organising institutions have prepared a special programme for them. The Chinese business people will visit the region's key infrastructure and economic areas in the Catalan capital, such as Barcelona’s technological district 22@, the city’s business promotion agency ‘Barcelona Activa’, or Barcelona Port. In addition, they will attend information meetings at the CaixaFòrum cultural centre and the City Hall. The foreign delegation will also take the opportunity to meet and exchange contacts with local companies from different sectors.

The President of Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, explained that the summit's aim is to get to “know each other and gain a mutual trust”, between Chinese and Catalan business people. In addition, it wants to better explain the advantages of investing in Barcelona and Catalonia, and use it as their main gateway to the rest of the European Union, which represents a market of 500 million people and a third of the world’s economy.

In 2010, Chinese companies invested 355.5 million euros in Catalonia, a figure that can easily grow considering all the business opportunities Chinese companies could profit from. According to Valls, one of the main opportunities Barcelona is hoping to exploit is being the front door of their products to the European market. For instance, the Chinese port logistics operator Hutchison Port Holdings will run Barcelona’s main ship container terminal from next year, while it is being built at the time.

In 2010, a third of all the imported products from China in Spain went to Catalonia. Last year, Chinese imports in Catalonia grew by 37%. Regarding Catalan exports to China, they have grown by 28% in the last five years, and represented 675 million euros in 2010. The figure represents 25.5% of Spain’s exports to the Asian giant last year.

Barcelona, “the economic capital of the Mediterranean”, a gateway to Europe and a platform to do business with South America

The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, pointed out that the city’s great economic potential is thanks to its international projection. Barcelona is “a prestigious brand”. In addition, Trias also explained Barcelona’s role as the “economic capital of the Mediterranean area”. He said that, “from Barcelona, Chinese companies find an ideal entrance to Europe and the Mediterranean region, and an excellent platform to do business with South America”, said Trias.

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stressed the high level of infrastructure concentrated in Barcelona, with the sea port, the airport, Barcelona’s trade fair, and the logistics area of the Zona Franca. According to Mas, this concentration of infrastructure is uneven in Europe. Furthermore, before 2020, Barcelona will have the Mediterranean Railway Corridor in place, better connecting the Catalan capital with the South of Spain and Central Europe. However, from early this year, trains can already go non-stop from Barcelona Port to Central Europe by international-width standard tracks.

The Catalan President explained the industrial tradition and history of Catalonia. In addition, Mas told the Chinese delegation the efforts made in the last number of years and the good results already obtained in developing research centres and infrastructure, focusing on science, technology and innovation.

‘China at Barcelona’ has the support of the Catalan Government, Barcelona City Council and Casa Asia, which has its headquarters in Barcelona. In addition, other organisation have also cooperated with the initiative, such as Barcelona’s Port, Invest in Spain, the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), the Confucius Institute of Barcelona, and the business schools ESADE and IESE as “knowledge partners”.