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Economic diplomacy

Economic diplomacy is one of the main instruments of Spanish foreign action and a political priority for the defence of Spain's economic interests and those of its companies abroad. Economic globalisation makes it essential for the State to place all the instruments at the service of economic agents so that, within the framework of an open economy, sustained growth is achieved and employment is generated. Strengthening the internationalisation of Spanish firms and attracting productive foreign investment have become a fundamental part of diplomacy, generating economic activity and employment.

Economic diplomacy, which is carried out in close coordination with the entire Spanish Administration with responsibilities in this area, aims to collaborate in the defence and promotion of Spain's economic interests abroad and to improve Spain's image by providing strong support for the internationalisation of its economy and its businesses. In short, it seeks to contribute, together with the other official bodies, to promoting and consolidating an open and competitive economy, in order to increase exports, foreign investment and tourism, and to facilitate better access to financing.

José Manuel Albares, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, together with the Emir of Qatar during his official trip to the country in September 2021. Photo: NOLSOM-MAUC

Economic diplomacy is becoming increasingly important in foreign policy. In the context of increasingly intense international competition, economic diplomacy enriches the more traditional and well-known focus of diplomacy by strengthening the role of economic and trade relations, which have proved to be a priority element of international relations in the 21st Century.

Spanish economy is highly internationalised, with exports of goods and services accounting for around a third of its GDP. More than 65% of the turnover of companies in the IBEX 35 is generated abroad, in some cases reaching percentages close to 100%. This process of internationalisation of large enterprises has acted as a fundamental driving force for others, encouraging some medium-sized companies to strengthen their presence abroad by setting up in countries with high growth potential. Although a whole generation of medium-sized companies and some small ones have now embarked on their own process of expanding abroad, there is still a lot of work to be done. Economic diplomacy plays a key role in this regard. Consequently, the support of Spain's foreign network for the smooth running of the foreign sector, as well as its contribution to facilitating the movement and establishment abroad of Spanish companies, as well as to attract productive foreign investment, is essential to increasing the competitiveness of the Spanish economy and its enterprises.

Minister José Manuel Albares, together with Spanish business leaders, at a working lunch at Viana Palace (Madrid), in September 2021. Photo: NOLSOM-MAUC​

All Embassies, Consulates-​General, Permanent Representations, Economic and Commercial Offices, Business Centres and Tourist Offices are the gateway for our businesses abroad. Diplomats, in coordination with Economic and Commercial Councillors, play a fundamental role in the internationalisation of Spanish enterprises due to their knowledge of the political, economic and commercial situation of the country to which they are accredited. The foreign promotion of Spain’s economic interests and firms is based on solid foundations of excellence and leadership in a large number of sectors that are not sufficiently known.


​Related documentation

Report on the contribution of Spanish companies to sustainable development in Latin America (Part 1)It opens in new window

Report on the contribution of Spanish companies​ to sustainable development in Latin America (Part 2)It opens in new window