Catalan government launches China Desk to promote Chinese investment and strengthen economic ties

Catalan Economy

19 Jan 2024

The initiative is part of the new ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment China Plan, a strategy to attract new investment projects in sectors such as mobility, health, and technology centers.

The Catalan government is taking steps to promote economic cooperation with China with the launch of the China Desk, an integral part of the ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment China Plan, which aims to attract Chinese investment, particularly in key sectors such as mobility and health.

The China Desk, located at the headquarters of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment in Barcelona, will have a team of Chinese professionals who will facilitate the dialogue between executives of global companies and local authorities and will also work in coordination with the agency's offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The Minister of Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, announced this initiative during a meeting with a hundred Catalan and Chinese companies at the Palau de Pedralbes with the participation of Yao Jing, China's ambassador to Spain. During his speech, the Minister of Business and Labour assured that "after the pandemic caused by Covid-19, with the collapse of global value chains and the activation of the Next Generation funds, the greatest window of opportunity in recent years has opened to attract more productive investment from China, a strategic country for the Government".


“Catalonia is the most dynamic region of the Iberian Peninsula in science, technology and innovation”

Mr. Bo Wang, General Manager of China Construction Bank in Barcelona

Mr. Bo Wang, General Manager of China Construction Bank in Barcelona

According to Roger Torrent, it is worth adding that "China is one of the largest investors on a global scale but one of the least established countries in Europe in the field of manufacturing". In this sense, the minister emphasized that "ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment has been working on the ground for more than 30 years to attract projects of Chinese multinationals to Catalonia, but now we are taking another step forward with the launch of the China Desk to take advantage of this historical context".

Roger Torrent announced a new institutional mission of the Government to China this April to promote business opportunities in Catalonia, attract new foreign investment projects, and strengthen trade relations between the two territories. The minister traveled last October to the Asian country, from where he announced that the Chinese multinational Wanhua, one of the world's largest in the chemical industry, will open an innovation center in Catalonia with the support of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment.

There are currently more than 200 subsidiaries of Chinese companies established in Catalonia, with exponential growth in recent years that has made China the third most important non-European country in terms of the number of subsidiaries in Catalonia, only preceded by the United States and Japan. Apart from Wanhua, other recent investment projects stand out, such as that of the textile company Shanghai Jingqingrong Garment, which will open its first production plant abroad in Catalonia.

Business experiences from China in Catalonia

After the intervention of Minister Roger Torrent, the Secretary of Business and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, Albert Castellanos, moderated a round table with the participation of two multinationals with subsidiaries in Catalonia, China Construction Bank and Huayi Compressor Barcelona. Their executives detailed why they decided to set up in Barcelona-Catalonia and the advantages this has brought them.

China Construction Bank opened a subsidiary in Barcelona eight years ago. According to Bo Wang, General Manager, "Catalonia is the most dynamic region in the Iberian Peninsula in terms of science, technology and innovation". Wang added: "We chose Barcelona because of its privileged logistical location. The city is located on the Mediterranean coast and is a gateway to and from Europe and the world".

In addition, according to the representative of China Construction Bank, Catalonia and China "have a very similar business culture, which is another reason why we chose Barcelona as our headquarters".

Founded 12 years ago in Catalonia, Huayi Compressor Barcelona is a manufacturer of components for refrigeration equipment. According to Wenjun Lin, Vice General Manager of Huayi Compressor Barcelona, they chose Catalonia "because it has a well-developed logistics network. From Barcelona, we can cover a large area in both Iberia and Southern Europe".

In addition, according to Wenjun Lin, "the government of Catalonia is very transparent and offers a very stable legal framework. This gave us the confidence to choose Barcelona as our headquarters".

Third, the Huayi Compressor Barcelona executive highlighted the easy access to talent: "Our group has needed to hire a lot of people over the years, and Barcelona, with top universities in different fields and sectors, produces talent that we can easily find".

Increasing investment from China in Catalonia

Foreign investment from China in Catalonia has amounted to 1,164 million euros and led to the creation of 2,100 new jobs over the last five years, according to ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment data from the Financial Times' fDi Markets.

In order to facilitate the establishment of Chinese companies in Catalonia, ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment has initiated several programs in recent years, such as Barcelona China's European Logistics Center, which was created in collaboration with the Port of Barcelona, the Barcelona City Council, and many specialized logistics operators, and the China Desk as the latest. Technological cooperation and business relationships between the two territories have been strengthened by signing various cooperation agreements with businesses and public institutions in recent years.

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Qiaoshan Xue

Qiaoshan Xue

Head of China Desk


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