The Leaders Programme organised a meeting at the Ministry of Economy with the Secretary of State for Commerce, María Luisa Poncela
At the headquarters of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, the Leaders met with the Secretary of State for Commerce, María Luisa Poncela, whose department is in charge of promoting trade, internationalisation, exports and Spanish investment abroad, as well as facilitating foreign investment inflows.
María Luisa Poncela went over the main figures of Spanish economy with the participants in the Programme, focusing on the effects of the economic crisis and the structural measures adopted to overcome it.
There are many positive figures that are cause for optimism, such as the 3.2% GDP growth registered in Spain in 2016. This was “the highest growth rate in the main EU countries” according to Ms Poncela, who highlighted the foreign sector as a driver of the Spanish economy during the recession.
Currently, falling unemployment coupled with increasing domestic demand, “suggests that Spanish economic growth is becoming more balanced”. Diversifying external markets whilst also selling to the domestic market “is the best advice we can give to companies”, the Secretary of State explained.
The Australian Leaders were particularly interested in the corporate tax system, as the Australian Government is considering the possibility of bringing corporate tax rates down from 30 to 25%. Ms Poncela also highlighted the existence of tax incentives such as those for investing in R&D.
During the Q&A, Susan Windybank and Alastair Davis asked questions about unemployment rates in Spain, both country-wide and regionally, and the implementation of EU policies on industrialisation. The Secretary of State singled out Galicia, a region visited by the Leaders during the Programme, as an example of industrial growth driven by the automotive and aerospace sectors. ”Galicia’s economic activity is impressive,” she said, highlighting Inditex as one of the region's drivers.
The Leaders also wanted to hear about the economic impact Brexit will have on Spain and Spanish policies to promote economic activity. It was pointed out that improvements to the energy and transport sectors, among others, are on the agenda for re-industrialisation in Spain, which is evidenced by the fact that the country is now the second-largest automobile manufacturer in Europe following Germany.
In conclusion, the economic outlook presented to the Leaders at the Ministry of Economy was optimistic. In the words of the Secretary of State, “there's still a lot of work to do, but from a macro-economic point of view we can say we are out of the crisis”.