The Catalan Government attracted 612 million euros in foreign investment in 2021, the highest figure on record

Catalan Economy

29 Apr 2022

The Catalan Government attracted 612 million euros in foreign investment in 2021 via the Ministry of Business and Labour’s agency, Catalonia Trade & Investment. A figure which is 28% over the previous year’s results and the highest in the historical series, which goes back to 1985. This was announced at a press conference by the Minister of Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, accompanied by the Secretary for Business and Competitiveness, Albert Castellanos.

Catalonia Trade & Investment is in charge of attracting and managing foreign investments for the Catalan Government. In total, 82 foreign investment projects (7% more in year-on-year terms) were created in 2021, creating 3,211 jobs (+37%) and maintaining an additional 2,471 jobs (+116%).

If the results are looked at over a larger period of time to avoid foreign investments’ volatile nature, the volume of foreign investment attracted by Catalonia Trade & Investment over the last five years (2017-2021) exceeded 2,000 million euros, 31% more than the previous five-year period (2012-2016). In the last five years, 27,444 jobs were created thanks to investments by multinationals in Catalonia.


Foreign investment snapshot

In 2021, industry was at the forefront of the number of foreign investment projects, one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Business and Labour to reindustrialize Catalonia given that industrial economies are more innovative, are more open to the world, are more productive and generate more stable and higher quality employment. In fact, 2 out of every 3 euros (406 million euros, 66% of the total) of foreign investment managed by Catalonia Trade & Investment in 2021 went to industry.

Of the 82 foreign investment projects that were implemented in Catalonia in 2021, 37% are greenfield, i.e., from companies with no previous presence in Catalonia.  44% are from companies already established in the region and that have undergone expansion or performed new investments.


From a sector point of view, what stands out are those investment projects for the ICT-digital transformation sector (with 20% of the total), followed by automotive and motorcycle (20%) and the chemical industry (13%). The dynamism of the digital and technological sector also stands out in terms of job creation, since it is responsible for 67% of the new employment created in total in 2021, thanks to foreign investment.

On the other hand, as regard to the main investor countries, these were the United States (16%), Germany (16%), the United Kingdom (12%), France (11%), Japan (9%) and China (6%).


Public support for productive investment

Catalonia Trade & Investment gives comprehensive advice to foreign companies to facilitate the investment of new multinationals in Catalonia while helping those already present carry out expansions and reinvestments.

Tasks range from the promotion of Catalonia abroad, the joint preparation of candidacies for companies to carry out investments in Catalonia, to full advice throughout the investment process and monitoring once the investment has been implemented.

This strategy – focused mainly on attracting new industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing business projects in Catalonia – has recently been recognized by the Financial Times group as the best in Europe among those regions considered 'large'. It is centered on attracting high impact investments, generating quality jobs and complementing gaps in sector value chains.

For each euro of public money allocated to this area in 2021, 221 euros of private investment were attracted from international companies. In total, 30.5% of the projects that came into being in Catalonia in 2021 came through Catalonia Trade & Investment's network of 40 Foreign Trade and Investment Offices around the world.

In terms of future forecasts, Catalonia Trade & Investment is currently working with a portfolio of 600 possible investment projects, its highest figure on record. In fact, 75% of companies that invested in Catalonia in 2021 under the auspices of Catalonia Trade & Investment say they plan to invest again in the future.

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