By Jose Miguel Blanco
New York, Jul 21 (EFE).- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday met with key groups of US investors, with the latter expressing great interest in the opportunities Spain offers in the green, digital, industrial and training sectors.
Sanchez began his agenda in New York, although his current US trip, his first since Joe Biden moved into the White House in January, will also take him to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
But the two leaders are not scheduled to meet and no meeting between the Spanish premier and any member of the US administration has been set because the Spanish government has said that the aim of his visit is purely economic and is designed primarily to attract the attention of private investors.
Spanish diplomatic sources said that “There will be time (later) for political contacts.”
However, the reasons why a stop in Washington DC has not been included on the tour was the first question put to Sanchez when he sat down for an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday’s edition of “Morning Joe.”
Sanchez did not respond directly to the fact that he will not meet with Biden – whom he met for the first time at the NATO summit in Brussels last month – but he did say that his agenda has a fully economic content.
He did, however, praise Biden, calling his administration “good news” not only for the US but for the world.
“We want to involve private investment,” Sanchez said, adding his support for the Biden administration and going on to mildly criticize the 2017-2021 Donald Trump administration.
“When Biden says that ‘America is back,’ it is not only good for you, but also for the world,” he said. “Unfortunately, the situation we had before, with the Trump administration, was very difficult to understand. Seeing the US president say that the European Union is a kind of enemy of the interests of the United States is a total error.”
Sanchez noted important decisions that Biden has made regarding global challenges including bringing the US back into the Paris climate accord and emphasizing that, after the pandemic, relations between the US and the European Union must remain close.
The Spanish prime minister said that Spain is defining its roadmap to modernize its economy and, to do that, it would like to have investment from the US private sector.
“That’s why we’re here,” he said before noting that he would be meeting with the representatives of some of the main US investment funds and financial institutions.
Specifically, he later visited Spain’s economic and trade office in New York, where he met with representatives of Ares Management Corporation, the Bank of America, Blackstone, the Bank of New York Mellon, Brookfield Asset Management, Roko Capital Management, JP Morgan, LCatterton Partners, Lone Star Funds, Morgan Stanley, Providence Equity Partners, Soros Fund Management, Wellington Management Group and AmCham Spain.
To those business leaders Sanchez explained the main elements of Spain’s Economic Recovery Plan after the coronavirus pandemic shock and the importance of getting an inflow of European funds.
Spanish sources called the meeting a “success” and reported that the US fund managers were “very interested” in the business opportunities offered by Spain in the green, digital, industrial and training areas.
In addition, Spanish sources said the business leaders were interested in the big reforms being undertaken in Spain.
Sanchez also attended two meetings of special relevance, albeit with the same objective: a working lunch with businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his company headquarters and a meeting with Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, the biggest fund management firm in the world.
In his interview with MSNBC, Sanchez said that it is difficult to speak about the economy and not link it to the coronavirus pandemic, and he reviewed Spain’s current situation vis-a-vis Covid-19 and the challenge of getting 70 percent of the Iberian country’s population vaccinated before the end of the summer.
He rejected allowing ideological and partisan battles to influence the struggle against the pandemic and emphasized that the world is facing a global public health challenge, calling it not a question of progressives or conservatives but rather one of public health.