Spain is an undisputed benchmark in high-speed railway travel. PHOTO RENFE
Economic Diplomacy
Against the current international backdrop, economic diplomacy presents itself as one of the main instruments of Spanish foreign policy and a political priority to enhance the economic recovery and improve Spain’s image.

Economic diplomacy, which is carried out in close coordination with the Spanish public authorities with competence on this matter, seeks to collaborate in the defence and promotion of Spain’s economic interests overseas, through decisive support for the internationalisation of the Spanish economy and its companies. In short, the aim is to contribute, with other official bodies, to boosting and consolidating the economic recovery and job creation in order to increase exports, foreign investment and tourism, and to facilitate greater access to financing.

Economic diplomacy is an essential part of the generic competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the field of foreign policy. Within the framework of increasingly intense international competence, economic diplomacy enriches the focus of more traditional better-known diplomatic action, comprising international diplomatic cooperation, security and peacekeeping, since it strengthens the role of economic and trade relations, which have been seen to become a central element of diplomacy in the 21st Century.

 

It is a fact that between 2010 and 2014 foreign demand was the main contributor of growth to the Spanish economy and helped offset the fall in internal demand. However, this trend altered slightly in 2016 such that domestic demand contributed 2.2 points to the annual growth of GDP while foreign demand contributed 0.8 points. In 2013, for the first time since 1986, the balance of the current account posted a surplus (1.52% of GDP) and in 2016, this surplus, posted for the fourth consecutive year, amounted to 2% of GDP. The weighting of GDP from the export of goods and services increased from 22.67% in 2009 to 33% in 2016, one of the highest levels of the main economies in the European Union. Since 2011, the number of Spanish export companies has risen by more than 20.8% (to stand at 148,794), and the number of regular exporters has risen by 33.7% since the same year, to stand at 49,792. In 2015, more than 60% of the turnover of IBEX 35 companies was generated overseas, in some cases reaching percentages close to 100%.


This process to internationalise large companies has acted as a key driving force for other companies, contributing to drive some medium-sized enterprises to strengthen their presence through their incorporation in countries with a high potential for growth. Although at present a whole generation of medium-sized enterprises have begun their own process of setting-up overseas, there is still a lot of work to do, work in which economic diplomacy has a key role to play. Accordingly, the support offered by the Spanish Foreign Network (embassies, consulates and economic and trade offices) to the good progress being made by the foreign sector, as well as its contribution in facilitating the expansion and establishment of Spanish companies overseas and in attracting foreign investment, is essential and seeks to enhance the country image and increase the competitiveness of the Spanish economy and its companies.


Economic diplomacy actively collaborates with the work undertaken by the Spain Brand, an instrument for reputation management and to coordinate initiatives designed to promote and improve Spain’s image in economic, cultural, social, scientific and technological areas. Boosting the Spain Brand is a key factor for the competitiveness of the Spanish economy and of companies and contributes to offering a more attractive image of our country and of our products and services. It also helps to improve their perception and to drive the aforesaid internationalisation of the Spanish economy and its companies. The monarchy plays a key role in this, since it stands at the forefront of this initiative, supporting actions taken by the government and business leaders to the benefit of the Spain Brand.


Spain has 127 embassies abroad, and a further 90 consulates general and 96 consular sections based in embassies, 98 economic and trade offices, 27 business centres and 33 tourism offices, which act as the gateway for our companies abroad. Ambassadors and consuls, in coordination with economic and trade advisers, play a key role in the internationalisation of Spanish companies as a result of their knowledge of both the political reality and the economic and trade reality of the country in which they are accredited. Spanish ambassadors and the Spanish Foreign Network are the true “forerunners” of the Spain Brand and of economic diplomacy to whom the central services provide the information and instruments necessary for them to carry out their work in this field. The foreign promotion carried out of our economic interests and of our companies is founded on sound bases of excellence and leadership in a large range of sectors that are not sufficiently known.

 

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