The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, launched an initiative on Wednesday to maximise the economic potential of the Spanish language as a global brand.
Saying it was “an important affair of state”, he promised to transform the language into “a strategic tool” to create new business opportunities and to build “a new world in Spanish”.
Rajoy highlighted that Spanish, with 570 million speakers and the third most used language on the internet and the second most used on social media after English, “is already our best ambassador in the world” and “an asset that we have to take care of”.
However he added that more can still be done, especially in an increasingly digital world or with the expected increase in Spanish speakers to 700 million by 2050.
Although exact details are to be decided, the scheme, to be called 'El español, lengua global', (Spanish, a global language), will include initiatives to stimulate more links with other Spanish-speaking countries.
As Spain is already the preferred destination of European students for the Erasmus exchange programme, the government hopes to found a new Erasmus-style scheme with countries in Latin America.
Well-known personalities will also be appointed as language ambassadors and businesses will be encouraged to participate in other initiatives with the promise of tax breaks.
As a sign of the importance of the plans, Rajoy announced that the worldwide Spanish trade promotion agency, known as Marca España, will take responsibility for coordinating the scheme.