Madrid aims to attract more Portuguese and foreign investment
MADRID IS a pretty happening place these days. Not only is it one of the best and most competitive places to do business in Europe, it offers unbeatable infrastructure, reasonably priced office space and a network of business-friendly organisations, writes The Resident’s Chris Graeme.
Ten years ago, Germany was Portugal’s biggest export market. Now, with a whopping 27 per cent, that place is occupied by Spain. At a business luncheon last month, hosted by the Luso-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, economist and Repsol founder, Fernando Merry del Val, highlighted why Madrid wants to attract even more business from Portugal. Talking about the city’s famous Madrid Trade Fair (IFEMA), members heard how, in 2005, the Portuguese made up the largest segment of visitors to the fair (33,000), with 580 Portuguese companies sending representatives.
Today, Madrid is the third capital in Europe to register internal growth above the Spanish average and 2.5 times greater than the European Union average, according to Fernando Merry del Val, who is an economic advisor to Madrid City and Regional Council (Gobierno de la Comunidad de Madrid).
At the same time, IFEMA is now the third largest trade fair organiser in Europe and hopes to increase its exhibition area by 50,000sqm, covering a total area of 200,000sqm. This means that, in the next four years, it will increase the number of international exhibitors by 70 per cent and make it one of the largest fairs in Europe and the largest on the Iberian Peninsula. Its key objective is that by 2010, the Madrid Trade Fair will have reached a business volume worth some 273 million euros (representing a growth of 77 per cent).
“Madrid is the region in Spain with the most exposure to Portuguese-Spanish business out of the 17 semi-autonomous regions in the country,” said Merry del Val. He added that the amount of Portuguese direct investment could actually increase at around three per cent a year in the medium term, helping to make Madrid one of the biggest money-spinning investment capitals in the whole of Europe.
In all probability, this growth in business is likely to fuel a population boom in Greater Madrid, from six million to seven million inhabitants, which, in turn, should fuel an office and housing boom. Merry del Val went on to say that Madrid was an essential springboard for Portuguese and other foreign investors wanting to do business in Spanish-speaking Latin America.
The present president of IFEMA, Jose Maria Alvarez del Manzano, said that IFEMA wanted, together with the Chamber of Commerce and Madrid City Council, to help both the Portuguese and Spanish do business, stating that the institution was a link uniting companies and citizens in both countries. “The Madrid Trade Fair is the perfect instrument to help both Portuguese exhibitors and companies increase their business profile and reach their target markets,” he said.
IFEMA is organised and run by several Spanish entities that set it up 26 years ago: the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Madrid City Council and the Madrid Community, among them.
To further encourage the placement of Portuguese goods on the Spanish market, the president of the Luso-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Enrique Santos, said that Lisbon Câmara would be promoting a Lisbon Week in Madrid, hopefully in 2007, which will be co-organised by the Chamber and will aim to spotlight quality Portuguese goods and produce.