The Leaders had the chance to discover the strengths of the infrastructure sector in Spain during a meeting at the Ministry of Public Works
The Australian MPs and the journalist taking part in the 1st Leaders’ Programme were welcomed by the Secretary General for Infrastructure, Manuel Niño González. The meeting was also attended by SACF’s Chairman Juan Miguel Villar Mir, who is also the Chairman of OHL and Grupo Villar Mir, as well as an advisor to the Secretary General for Infrastructure, Vicente Salvador, and the Deputy Director General for International Relations, Paloma Iribas.
The rundown of the history, current situation and future perspectives of the infrastructure sector in Spain emphasised its global nature and gave examples such as projects underway in countries like Turkey, Panama and Saudi Arabia. The Leaders also had a chance to verify the data provided against a report by the Ministry of Public Works, which showed how 13 Spanish companies were among the world’s top 250 global players in 2013. This figure trended upwards from 2010, when Spain had a 9% share of the international infrastructure market, until 2014, when it reached an impressive 15%.
As stated by Juan Miguel Villar Mir at the beginning of the meeting, Australia plays an important role in the international business of Spain’s companies. The Secretary General for Infrastructure, Manuel Niño González, emphasised the cooperation at a business level and the strong ties between companies from the two countries, which have signed significant agreements in the sector. Niño González also stated that “this rapprochement is also taking place at an institutional level,” with important progress including the visits by Australia’s Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, who gained a first-hand insight into the operation of Spanish high-speed railways.
High-speed railways were precisely what interested the Australian Leaders the most; they asked about specific aspects such as planning at an institutional level, as well as financial, operational and energy matters. A presentation was given to the Leaders to look in more detail at the features of the network, the world’s second largest after China, and the rest of the Spanish infrastructure system. This presentation highlighted the importance of the road network, which is one of the most extensive in Europe; the conventional railway network, which is essential for the transport of people and goods; air transport, with 47 airports including the largest hubs in Madrid and Barcelona, and the functionality of maritime transport, thanks to the combination of cutting-edge technology and a strategic geographic location. The role played by companies such as Adif, Renfe, Aena and Puertos del Estado is all-important for the development of this outstanding system.