Their Majesties, the King and Queen, together with President Balaguer, upon their arrival in Santo Domingo, on 31 May 1976, in the first trip by King Juan Carlos to Ibero-America as Head of State. PHOTO EFE
Spain in Ibero-America
Ibero-America has always been a priority for Spain’s foreign policy. Human, historical, social, cultural, political, economic and linguistic ties have made Ibero-America a constant feature of the foreign policy of successive governments of Spain. At present, our country aspires to achieving balanced relations on an equal footing. Furthermore, Spain is a key agent in relations between Europe and the countries in this region.

Our relationship with Ibero-American countries is unique in terms of its wealth and variety, and is fuelled by governments and societies in practically all spheres. The government has assigned Ibero-America a leading role on the foreign policy agenda. Spain maintains a frank and cordial dialogue with all the countries in the region, regardless of a greater or lesser political affinity with them.

Spain is currently one of the main investors in Latin America, with a leading presence in key sectors in the process of development and social modernisation, such as banking, energy, communication, construction and the management of infrastructures, tourism and the provision of public services.
 
Spanish culture appears in a wide variety of forms on both sides of the Atlantic, which has not only been clearly seen in the valuable heritage of original and ancestral cultures, but has also reached high levels of quality in all its contemporary manifestations, deservedly occupying a prestigious place in today’s world.

Spain and Ibero-America have both undergone profound changes in recent years, and hence currently seek a new relationship based on shared interests; and it is for a good reason that the slogan of the Ibero-American Summit held in Cadiz was “A renewed relationship in the bicentenary of the Cadiz Constitution”: Spain seeks to strengthen its ties, consolidate its political relations, boost mechanisms for dialogue and existing political dialogue, step up and increase the investment activity of its companies and its trade exchanges.

Spain has sought to adapt its relations with Ibero-America to the new reality prevailing on the continent, characterised by political stability and the widespread prevalence of democratic values. Moreover, Ibero-America has undergone a period of expansion and growth that makes it one of the drivers of the global economic recovery.

In the same spirit of friendship and solidarity with which Spain has significantly contributed to the restoration of democratic, civil and representative regimes and to boosting peace processes in Latin America, it presently seeks to accompany it in tackling new challenges: sustainable development, insecurity and the fight against drug trafficking. Spain sees it as essential to not only strengthen dialogue and foster cooperation to contribute to the institutional prowess of Ibero-American nations, but also to support effective economic reform processes that drive growth and foster the redistribution of wealth and equality.

Development cooperation policy is one of the main instruments of foreign policy for Ibero-America. Cooperation is adapting to a new and successful reality in which a large number of countries to which economic and technical resources have been allocated in the past have now reached levels of development that will convert them, in the short term, into donors to which Spain is offering new instruments focused on the knowledge economy, technological transfer and collaboration between research centres of excellence. The Government of Spain maintains its cooperation in the fight against poverty in those countries in Latin America that need this.

The Government of Spain promotes integration and multilateralism as the best response to the new international reality. That is why it has supported the different processes of economic, political and commercial integration, such as the Union of South American Nations (Spanish acronym: UNASUR), the Central American Integration System (Spanish acronym: SICA) and MERCOSUR, and observes with interest new integrating initiatives being developed in the region, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Spanish acronym: CELAC) and the Pacific Alliance. Hence, whilst expressing its interest in actively participating in the consolidation of these processes, it continues to advocate its preference for dialogue between these processes and the European Union which foster an enriching mechanism for mutually beneficial relations. In 2010, Madrid hosted the 6th EU-LAC Summit, which principally focused on innovation and technology for sustainable development and inclusion.
 
Spain, as part of the EU, together with Portugal, plays a crucial role in the design of European policy for Latin America. The region is enjoying growth at a much faster rate than in Europe, integration and concentration processes of differing natures are growing and providing Latin America with a greater regional awareness and many Latin American countries are starting to direct their priorities towards the Pacific. For this reason, the Summit between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Santiago de Chile in January 2013 was an excellent opportunity to strengthen and boost ties between the two regions and for Spain’s European partners not to neglect this relationship.

Spain’s role in Ibero-America is also reinforced by its participation in different Ibero-American multilateral bodies as an Observer State. This has been the case of the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1972. At present, Spain cooperates in different areas and provides 39% of all economic contributions. This relationship has been stepped up through the creation of the Spain-OAS Fund and an agreement was signed so that Spanish electoral observers could take part in election observation missions.
 
Since 1982, Spain has also been one of the Observer States of the Latin American Integration Association (Spanish acronym: ALADI). It has also had observer status in the Central American Integration System (SICA) since 2004 and in the Community of Andean Nations (Spanish acronym: CAN) since 2011. In November 2012, Spain was the first country to be granted observer status in the Pacific Alliance, with which it will shortly develop formulas for special cooperation.

On another note, Spain’s role in Ibero-America is very active in financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to which it contributes with 1.9% of the bank’s ordinary share capital, and with 2.24% of the budget for special operations Furthermore, Spain currently participates in eight programmes to eradicate inequality and to improve the economic situation in the region.

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