This year marks the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations for Spain and China. Relations between the two countries have been characterized by extensive and successful diplomatic and economic cooperation. China refers to Spain as its “closest European ally” and relies upon its help to establish political and commercial links with the EU. Spain views China as its main trade partner outside of the EU, and is relying on the support of the Asian giant to help it along the path of economic recovery.
The renewed competitiveness of the Spanish economy, along with the attractive offers of its real estate market, have drawn the attention of Chinese investors. There are now more than 40,000 Chinese-funded SMEs in the country, and the arrival of Chinese multinationals looking for a foothold to enter the European market is an increasingly common sight. Spain is still a top investment destination for Chinese high-tech companies and is viewed as a strategic partner for companies interested in Latin America and North Africa.
Spanish companies are also looking towards China, which, by 2020, will be the world’s largest economy (and by 2015, its largest importer). The catchphrase of the new Chinese economic model―“grow less in order to grow better”―is aimed at reducing dependence on exports and investment and stimulating the domestic market. Consequently, the growth of consumerism in China is set to significantly impact the global economy throughout the next few decades. According to Goldman Sachs, the number of Chinese citizens with medium to high incomes will reach 270 million – 400 million people by 2020.
Spanish exports to China, which are growing by 30 percent per year, could take off over the course of the next few years if Spanish companies are able to conquer important markets there like agribusiness, fashion and luxury items. The same may be said for tourism. With nearly 100 million Chinese tourists already traveling abroad, China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest tourist market by 2015, according to a recent McKinsey study.