DBC Lunch 7th May

While the term “Dutch Disease” is conventionally linked with an economy’s excessive reliance on a single natural resource sector, such as oil or gas, it can be broadly applied to situations where an economy becomes overly dependent on any single industry. In this context, the term could also aptly describe the dependence of the Spanish economy on the tourism industry.

For decades, Spain has grappled with an overreliance on tourism. Its economic structure, poorly equipped to weather potential crises, prompted repeated warnings from economists that the sun-and-sand model was unsustainable. In 2019, tourism reached record levels, contributing 14% to the country’s GDP and employing over three million people. However, the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 dealt a severe blow to the nation, causing the largest contraction among advanced economies, leading Spain into a record-high deficit with a sharp rise in unemployment.

The pandemic acted as a wake-up call, emphasizing the necessity for diversification in Spain’s economy to mitigate the risks associated with the Dutch Disease phenomenon. The ICEX (Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade), under the ministry of economy, commerce, and business, plays a pivotal role in this economic transformation. Supported by an ambitious EU Next Generation recovery plan, the Institute is redoubling efforts to assist Spanish businesses in expanding into new markets beyond their traditional ones. By promoting exports to a diverse range of countries and sectors, ICEX aims to diminish Spain’s reliance on any single market or industry.

At the upcoming DBC lunch on May 7th, we are privileged to welcome Elisa Carbonell Martín, who assumed the role of CEO of ICEX in January 2024. Elisa will enlighten us about the Institute’s initiatives in promoting market and product diversification, attracting foreign investment, and supporting Spanish businesses in their internationalization efforts.

Additionally, she will share insights into the recently concluded state visit, where Spain and the Netherlands explored potential alliances in cybersecurity and fintech sectors, among others.

We invite you to join us on May 7th for what promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable lunch, where discussions on fostering a more diversified and resilient economy in Spain will fuel dynamic exchanges.