Rosa María García
President of Siemens Spain
“Rather than giving way to the ‘pound shop industry,’ we should create something with high value added”
Does the Spanish economy need to advance toward a new economic model?
Yes, most definitely. Spain needs to rethink the type of country it wants to be. Thank God we have a lot of strengths such as the tourist industry. Unfortunately, in other economic areas like construction a bubble was created that must never be repeated. Spain ought to have an economic outlook based above all on innovation, differentiation, and industry. The industrial sector has dropped some thirty basis points since the 1960s, and a great deal of employment has been destroyed during the crisis. This has left industry accounting for less than 15 percent of GDP, compared with those countries that have better weathered the crisis, where industry accounts for at least 20 percent of GDP.
Does Spain need to have an industrial policy?
We should base the development of our industry on various factors. The first of these is the capacity for differentiation. Rather than giving way to the “pound shop industry,” we should create something with high value added. To do this, we must make a firm commitment to public R&D, given that we barely invest 0.8 percent of our GDP in this area. We should also encourage investment in R&D companies. If we compare ourselves to countries like Germany, we can see that our businesses invest 1.2 percent less than their German counterparts. Increasing private R&D is one of the most important areas in which we are lagging behind. We have to create a “pull effect” among the large multinational companies based in Spain (whether they are Spanish or foreign) by means of an open innovation method that will allow us to innovate at a faster rate, involving smaller companies and favoring the incorporation of innovation processes into these companies. Given that we are 34 percent less productive in our industry than the rest of Europe’s nations, we have to allow enterprises to boost their size and productivity. It is important that we find a less bank-focused way of funding industry, encourage exports, and improve technological investments, since these are now antiquated.
Promoting key industrial areas for the consumption of Spanish industrial products and assisting in their internationalization is also an important task.
Are Spanish markets in need of further liberalization?
More than liberalization what is needed is a single market, but this will continue to be a chimera while EU laws—and even municipal laws—continue to be so different, something that makes doing business more complicated. We also need stability in our regulatory framework. In the case of energy policy, for example— and, above all, in renewable energies—an image has been projected to the outside world that conveys a lack of stability in terms of the agreements and regulations established in the past.
Why is Siemens investing in Spain?
We have found that there is ample talent in Spain. Our collaborators are very competent in technical matters. They strive for excellence and take good care of our clients, who recognize this fact. They are tremendously innovative. We work closely with some of Spain’s large engineering companies, such as Abengoa, Técnicas Reunidas, and Isolux, and we enjoy very satisfactory and productive business relations with them. Thanks to Spain’s geographic location and the capacity for integration of the large international companies we find here, we are able to take our technology to Latin America, Africa, Australia, and Canada. Moreover, the country’s climate, the fact that it is a welcoming country, and the legal security it offers are important factors that have encouraged Siemens to invest in Spain.