Spain’s exports to Africa account for 5.8% of world sales
Spain’s exports to Africa have grown in the last twenty years in a very relevant way and at the end of 2021 represented 5.8 of the country’s global sales -18,502 million euros-, while in 2000 they were 3.3 percent.
This was highlighted this Wednesday at the opening of the I Africa-Spain Business and Investment Forum, organized by the Canary Islands Government and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism through ICEX, the deputy director general of Trade Policy with Mediterranean countries, Africa and the Middle East of the Secretary of State for Trade, Ana de Vicente Lancho.
This volume of sales puts Spain “in a better situation than its exports to Latin America. It is true that we have historical ties with that continent, but we have to see the reality, we are having a very prominent commercial approach with Africa that is gaining momentum in recent years,” as evidenced by the fact, he said, that the number of Spanish companies exporting to that continent “has skyrocketed and has gone from 15. De Vicente considered that it is necessary to take advantage of this interest in Africa, while detailing that Spanish imports to that continent have also grown, “from 12,400 million in 2000 to 27,845 in 2021, representing 8.1 percent of everything we buy from the rest of the world”.
There is still space for improvement
In this forum, the representative of the Secretary of State for Trade estimated that, although bilateral trade relations with Africa “are at a good moment, there is still room for improvement”. She stressed that although Spanish companies have invested 5,359 million in Africa, “there is a great concentration in the north of that continent that needs to be changed”, for which the Horizon Africa strategy has been designed “to concentrate efforts on specific initiatives”.
“In order to increase the internationalization of Spanish companies on the continent, including those from the Canary Islands, we have developed a strategy to identify key countries and sectors in order to achieve greater and better results”, he said. Thus, it has been concluded that the priority countries for Spain in sub-Saharan Africa are Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, while in the north they are Algeria (with whom trade relations are still complicated), Egypt and Morocco, hence, “without leaving behind any other country of that continent”, the instruments and strategies of internationalization will be focused on these.
Key sectors for action
It has also been chosen “key sectors of action, where there is interest on the part of African countries to receive Spanish investment and exports and, at the same time, share knowledge”, and it has been decided that these are those related to energy infrastructure, renewable energy, water and sanitation, waste treatment, agribusiness, rail transport and engineering and consulting, which, moreover, are compatible with the objectives of the 2030 agenda, said De Vicente.
Based on these countries and sectors, a fundamental axis of action has been developed, the institutional one, which has led the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to visit countries such as Libya, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Angola -where the King plans to travel in February 2023-, and Senegal, while he has also received in Spain the presidents of Nigeria and Mauritania. In addition, Spain has reinforced its network of economic-commercial offices in Africa, with the opening of a new office in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, which is expected to be joined by another in Cameroon in 2023.
Repayable credit lines
From the financial point of view, the Government is promoting the reimbursable credit line with projects such as the one approved in Senegal and the one planned in Egypt “which are the largest portfolio of this instrument”. Similarly, she continued, technical assistance and feasibility studies are being reinforced to improve the positioning of Spanish companies to obtain contracts in countries on this continent, so that of the eleven projects approved so far, six have been in Africa.
The Deputy Director General of Trade Policy with Mediterranean countries, Africa and the Middle East of the Secretary of State for Trade, Ana de Vicente Lancho, has considered that “the Canary Islands have a fundamental role to play” in this strategy because the island companies, supported by the Canary Islands institutions, “show great dynamism”.
“We believe that there are a great number of opportunities because there is a very similar way of understanding business, there is a cultural closeness, a confidence and a way of doing projects that we believe can lead to concrete opportunities. In addition, Canary Islands companies are specializing in issues that have the greatest interest and potential in neighboring countries, such as the green economy, the blue economy, infrastructure and water management, areas in which there is a lot of knowledge and experience to share and many successful projects to carry out,” he said.
Spain must take care of its ties with Africa
The International Director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Jaime Montalvo, stressed that the partnership between Spain and Africa “transcends the traditional concept of financial cooperation and the attention of sectors, such as the primary sector, to enter into a new and much more ambitious agenda”.
Montalvo warned in this forum that the critical moment in the international scene is forcing the reconfiguration of alliances and value and supply chains and “shifting the axis of the world economy to the Indo-Pacific”, so he said that Spain must “take care of its Atlantic and neighborhood ties, particularly with West Africa, as a moral obligation and because we share many interests, there is funding and support instruments, as well as opportunities.
In his opinion, regarding trade between Spain and Africa: “we have no excuse for not continuing to strengthen this collaboration” because “it is the only way to achieve the future we deserve”.
Credits: EFE (Las Palmas De Gran Canaria )