The Secretary of State for Trade welcomes the Leaders

The Secretary of State for Trade welcomes the Leaders

Jaime García-Legaz gave an overview of the Spanish economy, taking a closer look at the adjustments implemented and the outlook for the future

The Secretary of State for Trade, Jaime García-Legaz, was delighted to be accompanied by the delegation of Leaders and shared his views on bilateral relations and how to work together to attract foreign investment to Spain.

In order to provide his guests with some context, the Secretary of State gave a brief overview of the Spanish economy and recent adjustments and reforms: “This strategy has been tough to accept in this complicated time for Spain, but it is now starting to bear fruit and the outlook for the future is very positive.”

During the meeting, the Australian Leaders showed an interest in the renewable energy market. García-Legaz explained that Spain is “a pioneer in that technology”, but its cost, linked to cuts in subsidies and the approval of certain taxes, has placed the sector in a complicated position. “However, its contribution is quite significant. At peak times during the winter it reaches a share of 65% of the energy produced,” said García-Legaz. Currently, 20% of the energy produced in Spain is hydroelectric, 32% comes from other renewables, 23% is nuclear and the rest is generated through traditional fuels.

The reform of the banking system was yet another issue that caught the participants’ attention. Jaime García-Legaz analysed the situation prior to the crisis and the subsequent reform. Another area of interest were the real estate bubble and its impact on the financial system, with a lack of liquidity at savings banks leading to the need for state bailouts. “After this, the Government took over the savings banks and renewed their Boards. This kind of action had never been taken in our country, and time proved it was the right move.”

As for the government’s reforms to education and the healthcare system, which have been met with heavy criticism from various sectors of society, Jaime García-Legaz argued that they were implemented with a view to improving efficiency and management and emphasised that “basic education is still and will continue to be universal and free, as is access to Social Security hospitals and doctors.”

Other adjustments discussed during the meeting included the labour reform; the Secretary of State emphasised its positive impact on the business industry: “The reduction in severance pay has meant that many companies can continue to operate instead of closing shop, contributing to a dynamic economy and a flexible labour market,” he said. According to García-Legaz, this strategy is bearing fruit and will continue to do so, with a progressive decrease in unemployment rates.

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