MADRID, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism Jose Manuel Soria Lopez flew to China from Madrid on Tuesday evening to open the VII edition of the Hispano-China Forum.
Before boarding his plane en-route to Beijing, Soria had an interview with Xinhua on various issues such as investment opportunities in both countries and how Spain is attempting to open the doors for more Chinese tourists.
The VII edition of the Hispano-China Forum comes in the same year the two countries celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations. Recent years have seen the forging of ever closer economic ties between the two nations and the minister will be meeting his Chinese counterpart as well as meeting with the Bank of Beijing and a group of Spanish companies with investments in China as well as Chinese businesspeople.
He told Xinhua that China offers great opportunities for Spaniards looking to invest abroad, explaining that on his last visit to the country, he had visited a car factory owned by a Spanish group, where those working there explained to him China was the biggest and most interesting market in the world.
"That is the reason so many Spanish companies see China as increasingly interesting," he said.
Meanwhile China's economic growth has opened the door for more consuming and as such allowing countries such as Spain which are able to find their way into market for high quality goods. "It is a very interesting market for us," admitted Soria.
"Spain offers opportunities based on the credibility and the confidence that the Spanish economy offers," he said, highlighting how the Spanish government believes the country is now on the road to recovery after several difficult years of economic crisis.
He highlighted the flexibility in the job market, the lower costs of borrowing from abroad and the sweeping range of reforms passed by the Popular Party government, all of which he believes means "industrial companies are returning to Spain."
"We are also seeing how telecommunications countries are showing increase interest in Spain, while the public deficit is falling, in part thanks to exports and tourists. Spain is an attractive economy in which to invest," he insisted.
Soria told Xinhua that if he was back in time on Friday he would present a new telecommunications law for approval in the weekly cabinet meeting.
"If you compare what has happened in telecommunications over the last 10 years, it has been a revolution and we have to adapt. The aim of the law is make the rules more flexible to allow the operators to carry out the necessary investment in ultra-rapid speed and Long Term Evolution (LTE-4G) infrastructure. We have to favor this kind of investment," he explained.
"There are many investment opportunities in Spain; there are opportunities in the industrial sector, there are opportunities in telecommunications and tourism and in the agricultural sector and in the property market and all of that is beginning to generate a new flow of investment to Spain, so that those who come can invest in the best conditions," said Soria.
The minister will also transmit the message that Spain's privileged geographical position in the south of Europe from where it not only faces north to the rest of the continent, but also south towards Africa and west to Latin America makes the country a tempting place for investors.
"There are many reasons to think that," he said.
"China is a country that is growing and positioning itself in these markets and logically Spain, as a platform can help give access to these places," he explained.
The wide scope of his ministry means Soria is also in charge of tourism and Chinese tourism is especially interesting to Spain.
Highlighting a growing number of Chinese tourists coming to Spain, he explained that in 2012, 177,000 Chinese tourists came to Spain, which was "a considerable increase on the previous year."
Meanwhile the first seven months of 2013 already saw 112,000 Chinese tourists visit the country, a rise of over 30 percent.
"In Spain we are trying to attract increasing numbers of Chinese tourists," said Soria, who added he had spoken to tour operators in China during his last visit and would use this visit to speak to more.
"We think that China in the next few years is one of the most strategic markets that Spain has," he commented.
However, there are two "bottlenecks," which are slowing down the growth in tourist numbers: delays in getting tourist visas and the fact that there is only one direct flight every day between China and Spain and the Spanish government is working to unplug both of them.
The minister said they have strengthened consular services in China, while "tourist offices in Spain are contributing to make the system more agile and flexible for Chinese people looking for visas to come to Spain."
The minister also said that Spain are willing "do what has to be done within Spanish legislation to open the doors to Chinese airlines who want to operate with Spain."