Thursday, 09 February 2017

Government to open six new trade and investment offices worldwide


Barcelona (CNA).- ACCIÓ,  the public business competitiveness and internationalisation agency, will see its office network enhanced this 2017. In particular, six new offices will be opened in Havana, Los Angeles, Tehran, Zagreb, Amsterdam and Nairobi, which will be added to the 36 which currently exist. Thus, Catalan business will be represented in 109 economic regions and continue to have a presence on each of the five continents. “Now Catalonia’s presence in the business field worldwide will be comparable to and even bigger than that of other states”, explained Núria Betriu, Director of Industry of the Catalan Department for Business and Knowledge. This expansion represents an investment of 1.2 MEUR. The workforce will thus be increased, reaching nearly 150 people in total.

The first offices to be ready will be Zagreb, Nairobi and Teheran, while the other half will be completed before the end of 2017. The purpose is to “internationalise the Catalan economy” which aims to be “a permanent strategy”, explained Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget. During a press conference this Thursday, Baiget also emphasised the good figures of Catalan exports, which set a new record in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.

The office to be opened in Cuba responds not only to the changes in this Caribbean country’s economic situation but also to the increasing number of Catalan companies which export to the island. Between 2010 and 2014, Catalan exports grew by 50% and there are more than 1,000 companies which currently export there on a regular basis. Indeed, 30% of Spanish exports to Cuba are from Catalonia. 

Last November, Catalonia and Cuba signed an agreement to boost trade relations. The memorandum of understanding states that Cuba will provide Catalonia with information on the investment opportunities in the region in order to promote the arrival of new Catalan businesses to the island and encourage Catalan investment. Baiget assessed the agreement as “really important” because it implies a “direct capacity for dialogue” with the Cuban body responsible for foreign investment. The accord was signed under the framework of a trade mission organised by the Port of Barcelona and Acció, the Catalan Public competitiveness and internationalisation agency, to Panama and Cuba. Baiget and the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability, Josep Rull, accompanied fifty Catalan companies on their visit to these countries.

On the other hand, the Catalan Government already had a commercial office in Tehran between 1992 and 2003. Now, due to Tehran’s GDP growth, ACCIÓ has reconsidered their strategy and relocated an office there. “We have to be there”, stated Betriu.

Moreover, Catalonia’s commercial presence will be increased in the US. Besides the five offices already located there, the Los Angeles centre aims to focus on the main entrance of Catalan exports through the West Coast.

Nairobi’s office responds to the Government’s aim to enhance the commercial ties between Catalonia and sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya, with a 6% growth forecast, has strong influence over other countries in the area such as Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Regarding Zagreb, the office is expected to serve the whole Balkan area while Amsterdam’s will focus on start-ups and investment on I+D projects.

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  • Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, at the Financial Times headquarters, in London (by ACN)