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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Europe
 

Spain: CATALAN BUSINESS PROMOTION UNIT SEEKS TO REASSURE U.S. COMPANIES, OFFER SERVICES

     
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Reference ID: 09BARCELONA31
Created: 2009-03-11 12:47
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Origin: Consulate Barcelona

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RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1064
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 1284

UNCLAS BARCELONA 000031
 
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STATE FOR EUR/WE (SAMSON/ZERDECKI)
STATE ALSO FOR E AND EB
 
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PGOV AN SP
SUBJECT: CATALAN BUSINESS PROMOTION UNIT SEEKS TO REASSURE U.S.
COMPANIES, OFFER SERVICES
 
1. (U) Summary:  Josep Huguet, Regional Minister (Conseller) for
Innovation, Universities and Enterprise, and Carme Botifoll i
Alegre, Director General of Business Promotion for Catalonia
(ACC1O) hosted a lunch March 2 for U.S. business representatives
based in Catalonia.  AmCham President Jaime Malet led a group of
representatives from companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Nike,
Baker and McKenzie, Citibank, Cushman and Wakefield, Dow, Air
Products, Mattel, Computer Sciences, Continental Airlines, Sara
Lee,  Metaldyne Automotive, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo, Hudson, and
Dow, among others.  The purpose of the lunch was to declare
Catalonia still "open for business" and to lay out just what the
region could do to help U.S. businesses weather the current
financial crisis.  End Summary.
 
2. (U) At a March 2 luncheon hosted by Conseller Josep Huguet
and ACC1O Director General Carme Botifoll, Catalan officials
told U.S. business representatives that ACC1O, a new unit that
brings Catalonia's export promotion and foreign investor
services offices together under one umbrella, could offer
advisory and consultation services to U.S. businesses seeking to
establish themselves in the region.  AmCham President Jaime
Malet and CG Robinson also attended.  Huguet noted the
Generalitat (Catalonia's regional government) 37 foreign offices
worldwide to help potential foreign investors do business here.
 
3. (U) Catalonia is competing with other European regions to
attract foreign investment in a number of sectors including
water technology, renewable energy generation, and solar panel
production.  In addition, Catalonia is looking to become a
center for innovation that would generate "clusters" across
fields to create auxiliary enterprises, introduce technology
cooperation, and offer assistance to those who wish to start new
enterprises.  Huguet planned to use Barcelona's designation as
the seat of the Union of the Mediterranean to create and attract
an even broader range of companies and disciplines.
 
4. (U) AmCham President Jaime Malet underscored the significant
U.S. stake in the region when he said a full 14% of the region's
 investment comes from across the Atlantic, and 60% of the U.S.
total investment in Spain comes to Catalonia.  In addition, 50%
of research and development in Spain is conducted by
U.S.-affiliated businesses.  Anheuser-Busch, Nike, Baker and
McKenzie, Citibank, Cushman and Wakefield, Dow, Air Products,
Mattel, Computer Sciences, Continental Airlines, Sara Lee,
Metaldyne Automotive, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo, Hudson, and Dow
were among the companies that participated in the lunch.
Surprisingly, nearly all of them listed the same problems as
they went around the table.  Chief among them:  finding quality
employees, lack of English language skills among university
graduates, and too much bureaucracy, including delays in
obtaining work visas for the employees they bring to Catalonia.
It was mentioned that although Barcelona's two main business
schools, IESE and ESADE, ranked among the world's best
international institutions, the other Catalan-based schools
ranked at the bottom, according to European surveys.
 
5.  (SBU) Comment:  Catalonia, like other regions in Europe, is
facing serious long term economic challenges.  Officials are
pulling out the stops to keep companies already here and to
attract any others that might be interested.  Barcelona's
quality of life, Mediterranean climate, and reputation for
seriousness gives the region an advantage over some others,
however, the Catalans know they cannot take anything for
granted.  With unemployment at 11.8% at the end of 2008, the
highest since 1999, an economic slow down of 0.9%, and more and
more businesses forced to retrench, the region is going to have
to work hard to keep pace with the competition.  End Summary.
 
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