The Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council and FC Barcelona have jointly organised the “Barcelona Catalonia Talks: Business and Barça” to present Barcelona’s and Catalonia’s strong points as destinations for Japanese investment. The meeting was attended by some thirty senior executives representing Japanese companies in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals and the life sciences, industrial technologies, video games, the food and beverage sector, and printing.
The Minister of Business and Knowledge, Àngels Chacón, said: “Catalonia is a very attractive destination for investment by Asian companies. In fact, Japan is the second-biggest non-European investor in Catalonia, and over the last five years Japanese investment has doubled to €448.8 million.” Chacón also stressed: “Catalonia, Barcelona, FC Barcelona and Japan share values such as a commitment to quality work, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship – common values that help us build a framework for institutional and economic cooperation.”
Lluís Gómez, Barcelona City Council Commissioner for Business, Economic Promotion and Innovation, emphasised the importance of this collaboration between FC Barcelona, the Catalan government and the Barcelona City Council “to promote Catalonia and Barcelona for their cultural and sports appeal, and, most importantly, to highlight a side of Barcelona that people are sometimes less aware of: the city’s business capacity, ability to innovate, and potential for technological transformation.” According to Gómez, missions of this kind are “very important to enhance the city’s brand through the appeal of Barça and events like the performance of Turandot by the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra” and “a good way to reach companies and businesspeople and present an image of Barcelona and Catalonia that’s modern, innovative and very powerful.”
In addition to Minister Chacón and Commissioner Gómez, the event was attended by representatives of the board of directors of FC Barcelona. Marta Plana, a member of the FC Barcelona board and head of the Barça Innovation Hub, said: “Japan is a country and market of particular interest to us. We have six million fans in Japan, which makes it the fifth biggest Asian market by number of fans. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is the geographical area where we have the most fans – over 100 million. To put that in context, if Barça fans in the Asia-Pacific region were a country, we’d be the 12th biggest country in the world.” Plana emphasised that “at the commercial level, the club has three very special partners in Japan: Rakuten, Konami and Nichiban, which together account for 33% of our sponsorship revenue.”
Other participants in the meetings are Joan Romero, chief executive of the Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIÓ), which reports to the Ministry of Business and Knowledge; Yuko Kijimoto, director of ACCIÓ’s Foreign Trade and Investment Office in Tokyo; and Màrius Rubert, director of international economic promotion for the Barcelona City Council (together with his team).
The Catalan institutional mission is accompanying an FC Barcelona tour of Japan to promote trade relations between Catalonia and the Asian country and attract more foreign investment. Today’s event took place during the run-up to Barça’s first friendly match in Tokyo.
The Catalan institutional delegation will hold a second event with companies from the Kobe area, coinciding with the last match of FC Barcelona’s Japan tour, which will be played on Saturday.
Trade relations between Catalonia and Japan
Within the framework of the institutional mission, which began on Monday and will continue until Saturday, the Catalan delegation will visit a number of Japanese companies. According to ACCIÓ data, Japan is currently the Asian country with the most companies established in Catalonia (254). The main sectors for Japanese investment in Catalonia in the last five years are vehicles (47.9%), ICT services (17.9%) and retail (11.2%).
In 2018, 2600 Catalan companies exported a total of nearly €850 million worth of goods and services to Japan. To support the activity of Catalan companies in Japan, ACCIÓ opened its first Foreign Trade and Investment Office in the country in 1988.
According to data from Barcelona City Council, 155,000 Japanese tourists visited the city in 2018, which makes Japan one of the most important non-European sources of tourists for the city. It is also one of the most stable markets and one that is highly valued by tourism professionals. The programme of activities for this week is aimed at further strengthening economic and business relations between Catalonia and Japan.