Monday, September 20

President Sánchez in the US

The visit of President Pedro Sánchez to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco from July 21 to 23 has been part of a strategy of the Palacio de La Moncloa aimed at boosting the economic relations of Spain – the 12th world economic power and the 4th of the EU – with its main ally and strategic partner at the international level, the United States of America. The message has been clear in the meetings with the more than 30 multinationals and investment funds: Spain is a reliable and rapidly growing country, on the rise in all economic sectors after overcoming the Covid-19 crisis. The last official visit of President Sánchez to the United States was made in September 2019 under the Trump administration in the White House and with an agenda of a marked institutional nature: United Nations, Sustainable Development Summit, etc. In this new visit, the agenda has been aimed at exposing the main investors and companies – especially technology companies – from the US to the data on the strong recovery of the Spanish economy as well as the success of the vaccination process in our country. The updated forecasts of the IMF for 2022 predicting an increase in GDP of 5.8% place Spain with the highest growth of developed economies ahead even of the United States, Germany or Japan. This data is accompanied by one of the highest percentages of the vaccinated population worldwide.

The arrival in Spain of the “Next Generation EU” funds – 140,000 million euros – has been the central axis in this tour of the financial and business centers of the United States. The opportunity to attract new investment to our country was already confirmed on May 19 at the seminar organized by “European recovery funds: This is how Spain is going to change.” With the assistance of President Pedro Sánchez as well as the President of the European Parliament, the Italian David Sassoli and the Vice-President of the European Commission, the Latvian Valdis Dombrovskis, this meeting in Madrid allowed to visualize the innovations that European funds would bring to Spain. In this working visit with the presence of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, proposals were exchanged with US companies and investors in pursuit of the Spanish strategy of mobilizing a close figure from the private sector in 2022/2026 to 500,000 million euros. Investments that the Palacio de La Moncloa wants to allocate to the ecological and digital transition enunciated in the “Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan” presented in April – with the approval of the European Commission – to encourage sectors such as 5G, hydrogen green or electric car manufacturing.

In New York and California, meetings with former skyscraper city mayor Michael Bloomberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook garnered media attention. At lunch with Bloomberg, financial issues – but also politics – took up much of the conversation. Bloomberg after the fiasco of his candidacy in the Democratic primaries (he invested more than 500 million dollars and only obtained twelve delegates) decided to support his old friend the current US President, Joe Biden, with large donations. The influence of the billionaire and his economic news agency, Bloomberg News, in the US political, financial and business spheres is well known. That same day in Manhattan, where President Sánchez lived in the 90s, an interview was granted to the MSNBC channel and a round of meetings with banks and investment funds such as JP Morgan was held in the recently inaugurated Spanish economic and commercial office. Bank of America or Soros Fund.

In California, after exposing in a university forum in Los Angeles – founded by the Spanish in 1781 – the unstoppable future of Spanish in the United States with about 20% of the Spanish-speaking population, President Sánchez visited Apple’s emblematic headquarters in Palo Alto. Tim Cook, according to subsequent information, continued the conversations of his visit in 2019 to the Palacio de La Moncloa and his project schedule in Spain that is expanding rapidly thanks to the “Next Generation EU” funds. This same willingness to benefit from European recovery funds was expressed in Los Angeles by the heads of HP, Intel, PayPal or LinkedIn interested in the projects of the digital transition designed in the “Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan”. The audiovisual sector, with Spain as the setting for the new platforms, was another of the objectives of the intense agenda in California: Netflix, HBO, Disney or Warner were the interlocutors.

The US and Spain, as anticipated when planning this visit, are about to make a qualitative leap in their relationship in the economic and political area. The nomination of Julissa Reynoso, of Dominican and Spanish-speaking descent, as the new US Ambassador in Madrid reinforces these expectations by opening a valuable direct line to the White House. The career diplomat Reynoso, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during her brilliant tenure as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department in charge of Central America and the Caribbean during the Obama administration (2008-2016), is also a heavyweight in the Democratic Party. She currently serves as chief of staff to the First Lady – Professor Jill Tracy, wife of President Biden – who has been noted for promoting an active feminist and environmental agenda since her arrival in the White House.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in an extensive call to congratulate the new Spanish foreign minister, the former ambassador to Paris José Manuel Albares, has confirmed the harmony between Washington and Madrid. The State Department explained in a detailed press release the interest of the US in cooperating on issues such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua or the migration crisis in Central America – discussed in June between Biden and Sánchez in Brussels – as well as in the Mediterranean and the Sahel . Madrid is very well positioned to be a mediator – as in Central America in the 1980s – in a dialogue between Washington and the leftist governments of Havana, Caracas and Managua. The talks in Mexico City between the Venezuelan government and the opposition – unthinkable a few months ago – or the appointment of Latino diplomats Ricardo Zúñiga and Juan González to key positions in the White House and the State Department are clear messages of a change of direction in USA against Latin America. In Central America, South America, the Mediterranean and the Sahel, all regions with a strong presence of Spanish Cooperation, it is feasible to establish a collaboration between AECID and USAID, the US agency for development aid. The new secretary of state for international cooperation Pilar Cancela – accredited expert in parliamentary diplomacy, gender and cooperation – is committed to leading development aid in the EU and establishing synergies with US cooperation agencies to achieve the goals of the “2030 Agenda “from the UN.

The White House and the Palacio de La Moncloa have two key events, of mutual interest, on the international calendar. The NATO Summit in the spring of 2022 in Madrid and the Summit of the Americas in Washington – after being postponed due to Covid-19 – in early 2022. Both will bring together respectively the leaders of the member states of the Atlantic Alliance and the Organization of American States to address challenges in the post-pandemic world. A new NATO secretary general will be elected in Madrid and Spain as host country – its bet is on a woman and a European – will have a lot to say. The neoliberal failure and the unstoppable return to power of the governments of the left and progressives revalues ​​the authority of Madrid in the OAS where Spain has been an observer since 1972. Several countries and institutions of the subcontinent have asked Washington to invite Spain to the Summit of the Americas in recognition of its leadership in the region. The success of President Sánchez’s visit to the US, whose companies currently have investments of 89,000 million euros and more than 200,000 jobs in Spain, invite optimism in this hopeful stage since the arrival of President Joe on January 20. Biden to the White House.