Business & Economy

Spanish businessmen meet with king to discuss problems, opportunities in US

New York, May 26 (EFE).- Spanish businessmen from different sectors on Thursday met at a working breakfast with Spain’s King Felipe VI to discuss the problems and opportunities they must deal with in the United States at this post-pandemic juncture when economic growth is at risk due to the war in Ukraine.

This was the first item on the monarch’s agenda in New York, a gathering organized by the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce in the Big Apple that brought together business leaders from sectors such as infrastructure, food, energy and renewables, fashion, health and banking, among others.

The businessmen laid out for the king the main problems they are facing, some of them worldwide including supply chain tensions and others of a more national character like cumbersome visa granting procedures, the not-always-coherent overlap between US federal and state laws and the protectionist US culture which tends to favor local businesses under the “Buy American” slogan.

All of this makes it quite difficult to “retain talent,” especially in the field of engineering, given that companies cannot always find in the US market the qualified technicians they need and don’t necessarily have the ability to hire foreigners, they said.

The ambitious US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved last November, which includes $1.2 trillion in spending, is encountering daily problems that run counter to the law’s objectives and create hurdles for foreign investors, the business execs told Felipe.

Some of the companies have adopted a “local profile” as a way to facilitate their penetration into the US market. That is the case with Iberdrola, which via its affiliate Avangrid has positioned itself as one of the main providers of renewable energy in the US.

FCC, however, without resorting to a name change, has managed to set itself up as the fourth-largest provider in the US of recycling and waste treatment services.

The importance of the US market is huge for sectors such as pharmaceuticals, and the Almirall representative emphasized that company sales in the US, much greater than its sales elsewhere in the world, are what is enabling the company to have enough money to develop new molecules and continue innovating.

One of the advantages enjoyed by the Spanish firms – the businessmen said – is their commitment to environmental sustainability, a stance acquired thanks to strict European regulation that obligates them to pursue it and which now can be put into practice in the US, where sustainable businesses practices are 20 years behind Europe.

The supply chain problems are affecting all sorts of enterprises and they are appearing in such things as the difficulty of importing from China aluminum with which to cover locally-manufactured yogurt containers, as one dairy products firm said at the meeting.

King Felipe VI, as his aides told EFE, listened attentively to the 20 businessmen who spoke with him and asked numerous questions of them, and the entrepreneurs imparted to him the importance the business sector places on his visits because the “international recognition” he enjoys helps Spain’s image in the US and the world in general.

EFE fjo/rrt/bp

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