The Basque Open Industry addressed opportunities in markets such as the United States, India, Brazil, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
The second day of the Basque Open Industry, the event organised by the SPRI Group that has shown Europe the public-private industrial and technological ecosystem of the Basque Country, dealt with the internationalisation prospects of Basque companies in markets such as the United States, India, Brazil, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
The conference was opened by Ainhoa Ondarzabal, CEO of Basque Trade & Investment, who expressed her satisfaction that the entity, now in its fifth year, has become “the benchmark for business internationalisation in the Basque Country”. He pointed out that exports now account for 38% of the Basque Country’s GDP and “our companies have a turnover of 45% abroad, with more than 2,500 establishments and 1,000 of them productive”.
Eduardo Sisti, a researcher at Orkestra, highlighted the high proportion of exports in the Basque Country, “although below the European and German average”. He pointed out that, in the period from 2013 to 2021, the number of exporting companies has grown by 70% and the value of exports has increased by 24%.
He referred to niche strategies, which are more widely implemented in the Basque Country than in countries such as Germany or France, and which generate highly qualified employment.
Olena Bilobrova, head of the Ukrainian Office of Entrepreneurship and Foreign Promotion, presented innovative digitalisation projects in her country, such as the Diia app, used by 19 million Ukrainians. It provides access to functions such as registering newborns, paying taxes or the world’s first digital passport. With the outbreak of the war, this app has been growing to help evacuate a region or area in danger.
He stressed that Ukraine is a country of entrepreneurs and, despite the war, they have organised six international events in countries such as the United States and Sweden.
The day concluded with two round tables on strategic markets for the Basque Country, with the participation of the directors of the offices of the Basque Internationalisation Agency in the United States, India, Brazil, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
Jurdana Izaguirre, director in the USA, pointed out the growing interest of Basque companies in the North American market, “with a very good economic situation. Growth of 2.1% is expected”. In addition, new laws have been passed to promote renewable energies and strengthen the local supply chain. He added that the main opportunities for Basque companies are in renewable energies, automotive, aeronautics and advanced manufacturing.
Hemant Agarwal, director in India, assured that the government maintains its commitment to the manufacturing industry, but there are new opportunities in digitalisation and automation.
Iñaki Gambus, director in Brazil, said that the situation is good in this country with a growth of 2%. He referred to offshore wind power, where “regulation is slow, but there are 160 gigawatts in environmental licensing. Brazil is positioning itself as a green shoring hub”.
Pablo Huidrobo, director in Singapore, commented on the outlook for the countries in this part of Asia. On Singapore, he commented that it has been characterised as a production centre, “but it is increasingly becoming a large consumer market due to the growth of the population and the middle class. It continues to be the financial and commercial hub of the region, specialising in biotechnology and microchip manufacturing.
As for Thailand, it will grow by 4% and is the “East Asian Europe with a fairly advanced industry”. Indonesia’s economy will grow by more than 5%, “with large natural resources such as cobalt and nickel, as well as oil and gas”. Vietnam’s GDP will grow the most, by 6 per cent in 2024, “and it was the only one, along with China, that grew during the pandemic”.
Pablo Fano, head of the Agency’s UK and Ireland office, noted that growth in the UK is “extremely weak at 0.3%, with the highest inflation rates, which have reached 11%”. “The good news is that the unemployment rate is stable at 4.2%. He highlighted three areas of economic development: investment in public infrastructure, health “which is at the highest levels of waiting lists” and energy, due to the opening of oil licences in the North Sea.
Ecem Toprakseven, head of the Turkey office, said the government wants to reduce high inflation. Automotive, energy and infrastructures are the sectors where there may be more opportunities for Basque companies, as well as in new technologies such as artificial intelligence.