British investment in Andalucía focuses on construction, property and innovation

Derek Langley, regional vice-president for the BCC in Andalucía, welcomed guests.
Derek Langley, regional vice-president for the BCC in Andalucía, welcomed guests. / FRANCIS SILVA
  • UK businesses have invested more than 250 million euros in Andalucía in the last five years

The UK is the European country that invests most in Spain (13.1% of direct foreign investment) and second in the work after the United States. In the last 25 years, Britain has invested 50 billion euros in this country.

These were some of the figures revealed this week at the presentation of the third edition of the Barometer on Climate and Outlook of British Investment in Spain carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) in collaboration with Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI - International Financial Analysts).

On a regional level, the detailed study revealed that Andalucía is still one of British investors' favourite Spanish regions after the recovery from the financial crisis. In the last five years firms from the UK have invested more than 250 million euros in this region, more than 10% of all direct foreign investment.

The results of the study were summarised by AFI partner José Manuel Amor. He explained that British firms, in the case of Andalucía, are concentrated in the property and construction sectors with an investment flow of more than 100 million euros in the last five years. This contrasts with the trend in the rest of Spain where the investment in these sectors has fallen slightly.

British investment in Andalucía maintains around 13,000 jobs, according to the report's figures from the end of 2015.

Amor said that Andalucía still has some way to go to catch up with the investment made by British firms in Madrid, Catalonia or the Basque Country.

Contrary to some predictions, British firms' commitment to investing in Spain has strengthened since the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union.

The investment flow in 2017 was more than 3.1 billion euros, above the historical average (2.8 billion).

According to the expert from AFI, with these investment flows, "more employment will depend on British investors in Spain". The report calculates that more than 183,000 jobs in Spain are directly generated by British investment in this country.

The study also gauged the views and plans of the British firms with regard to their investments in Spain. In 2017 their perception of Spain as an ideal location for investment improved slightly. Quality of life, supplier costs and financing conditions are the areas that were given the highest marks. Lower marks went to the country's investment in I+D+i, an area where British firms call for a greater commitment and effort on the part of the authorities.

Nevertheless 70% of firms that took part in the survey, said they plan to increase their investment in Spain (17% more than last year). The majority said they would be doing this in the short term (less than a year). Not one of the firms surveyed said that it would stop investing in this country.

Close ties

The healthy commercial relations between the UK and Spain demonstrated by the report were confirmed in Malaga on Monday by Tim Hemmings, the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy.

He pointed out that the relationship between the two nations goes back centuries and that now more than 58,000 Britons are registered as living in the province of Malaga.

"British investors have always been attracted by Malaga, by its culture, sport, climate and gastronomy," he said.

On the subject of Brexit, Hemmings expressed his hopes that the governments of the UK and Spain will strengthen their business relations.

"We are determined to achieve a trade deal that is as free as possible between Great Britain and the European Union," said Hemmings, who insisted on the need to maintain close financial ties.

The event, attended by the British Consul for Andalucía, Charmaine Arbouin, and the mayor of Torremolinos, José Ortiz, among other officials, ended with a discussion on the views of British firms in Spain regarding the current situation.

Taking part were Arturo Díaz, Executive Director Residential Spain at Savills Aguirre Newman; Salvador Arenere, executive at Intu Costa del Sol; and Marc Sanderson, Director of International Economic Development at Malaga city hall.

Arenere pointed out that the British shopping centre giant Intu planned to invest 3 billion euros in centres in Spain in the coming years. The future commercial and leisure centre in Torremolinos, he said, is set to become the firm's star project in Spain.

All three participants agreed that Spain ought to lighten its complex administrative procedures, and stressed the advantages of the Costa del Sol as a place for investment, due to its climate, quality of life, lower costs, good connections and technology park.