New strategy and extraordinary times in Spain

BCCS President on Sky NewsOver the past four consecutive years, the British Chamber of Commerce is Spain has been continually increasing its network of members, the quality of companies, its generation of income, the size of its dedicated team, its visibility and influence.

The latest Governing Council, led by President Christopher Dottie from Hays, has developed a new strategy with objectives focused on the following lines of action:

-        Management: to be financially sound and professionally managed

-        Membership: to work closely with our members, generate mutual benefits, and gain an increased understanding of what members want

-        Influence: to be the leading independent voice of both UK-Spanish business and of members’ interests

-        Services: to diversify streams of revenue and develop innovative initiatives

-        Business-orientated: to facilitate more business and access to members

The chamber has continued to organise different formats of events but this year’s agenda has inevitably been dominated by two political events which have had a significant economic impact: Brexit and the political uncertainty in Catalonia.

In both cases, the chamber has responded with leadership which has brought about a large number of initiatives such as the compilation of relevant information and the organisation of regular meetings with political figures in order to protect members’ interests.

Brexit is a great concern for the chamber’s Business community; bilateral trade between Spain and the UK is worth €30 billion. The UK is the number one destination of Spanish FDI. British FDI to Spain continues to grow, as shown by the third edition of the Barometer on Climate and Outlook of British Investment in Spain which is being presented to the public and media in Madrid, Barcelona and in London.

The UK is the number one EU country for investment in Spain. In 2015, the growth of British FDI in Spain was greater than the previous year’s increase in 2014.

The UK has invested a total of €66 billion in Spain over the past 24 years. It is Spain's most committed investor, accounting for the largest cumulative FDI flows into the country since 1993, and is currently among the top seven investors in Spain.

In the first semester of 2017 alone, the UK invested €1,895 million in Spain. British FDI in Spain is predominantly focused on productive investment, generating 183,194 jobs in 2015, 22,000 more than in 2014. UK companies say that the business climate in Spain has improved in general. In the next few months, however, the impact of the recent political uncertainty in Catalonia will be seen. Catalonia is the region that attracts the third most investment (by region). 

A slight decrease in British investment in Catalonia has been observed, possibly due to the current political uncertainty in the region. The impact of the situation in Catalonia will become more apparent in the next few months. 

The British Chamber in Spain is an apolitical organisation and has offices in three cities, one of which is in Barcelona. This has allowed the chamber to play a crucial role for members in the complex political situation.

The chamber’s President, Christopher Dottie, has been interviewed by leading media such as BBC Radio, SKY TV, CNN and the Guardian.

Sky News:  

BBC Radio:

The chamber has also been able to provide relevant information to members about the legal and fiscal impact of companies relocating to other regions to guarantee continued access to the domestic Spanish market and the wider EU, as well as the flow of Catalan deposits to banks in other regions. Feedback from key sectors that are experiencing a business decline, such as the tourism industry, or on the freezing of some investments has also been gathered.  

The problems faced by member businesses appear to be similar to those of UK companies who are grappling with the repercussions of Brexit, and the question of their access to the EU. This uncertainty over market access may weigh heavily on business confidence and investment intentions. But the Catalan situation has additional legal and social complexities. For this reason, members can appreciate that the chamber represents their interests within the government, and that it facilitates access to relevant information in this extraordinarily complex situation.

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