Catalonia Trade & Investment identifies 8,900 foreign companies located in Catalonia, 3% more than in 2018

06 Oct 2020


  • France (13% of the total), Germany (13%), the United States (12%), Italy (9%) and the United Kingdom (9%) are the countries with the most companies established in Catalonia.
  • 1,369 foreign companies (16% of the total) located in Catalonia are in the technology sector, 21% more than in 2018.

The Ministry for Business and Knowledge, through Catalonia Trade & Investment -the agency for business competitiveness- has identified 8,900 subsidiaries of foreign companies located in Catalonia (2019 data), that is an increase of 3% compared to the year 2018.

According to the Minister for Business and Knowledge, Ramon Tremosa, "Catalonia has an increasing presence of foreign companies: if in 2013 we identified 5,600 subsidiaries for the first time, we now have 60% more". Tremosa said "more presence of foreign companies translates into the creation of skilled jobs, more talent, more international connection and more strength for our economy”.

The countries with the highest presence of foreign companies in Catalonia are France (with 13% of the total), Germany (13%), the United States (12%), Italy (9%), the United Kingdom (9%), the Netherlands (7%), Switzerland (5%), Luxembourg (4%), Denmark (3%) and Japan (3%). China’s case stands out, as in 2013 it occupied the 33rd position in the ranking and is currently the 14th country with more companies. In fact, Tremosa said that "the most significant increase by geographical area is that of Asia-Pacific, with a growth of 15% year-on-year in the number of companies”.

According to Catalonia Trade & Investment’s data, the ecosystem of foreign subsidiaries in Catalonia is dynamic but established at the same time: 18% of the subsidiaries of foreign companies in Catalonia have been created in the last 5 years, while 63% is over 10 years old. With these data, Catalonia Trade & Investment analyses subsidiaries of foreign companies, that is, those companies in which foreign capital is the majority (50% or more foreign capital), in all sectors of the economy.

More companies in tech sectors

A total of 1,369 foreign companies located in Catalonia (16% of the total) belong to technology sectors, a figure that has increased by 21% compared to 2018. These are subsidiaries that are mostly dedicated to the fields of ICT, the Industry 4.0, biotechnology, electronics, health and medical equipment, smart cities, digital and audiovisual content, mobile, video games and R&D.

Regarding sectors as a whole (per number of companies), the foreign subsidiaries established in Catalonia are dedicated to infrastructure (11.5% of the total), ICT-digital transformation (7.7%) and machinery (7.4%), which is “key for the digitalization of industry towards and industry 4.0, which provides greater added value and the ability to attract both local and international talent”, the Minister highlighted.

Public support to foreign investment

The strategy to attract foreign investment in Catalonia is led by Catalonia Trade & Investment. The agency operates from Barcelona alongside a network of 40 foreign trade and investment offices around the world, aiming to attract new foreign investment projects to Catalonia.

In this sense, last year Catalonia Trade & Investment attracted 365.2 million euros of foreign investment, 13% more than the previous year. These foreign investment projects have led to the creation of 5,757 jobs (a growth of 5.5% year-on-year) and the maintenance of an additional 1,349 jobs (+6.3%). Thus, for every euro of public money spent, the Catalan Government attracted 144 euros in foreign investment.

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