The Spanish Club of Exporters and Investors, through a technical report drawn up by its Reflection Committee on Internationalization, which includes experts from the business, institutional and academic worlds, proposes to take advantage of the Cooperation Bill for the sustainable development and global solidarity in the Congress to improve the instruments for financing projects and thus strengthen the presence of Spanish companies and the image of Spain in the assisted countries.
The report, written by Antonio BonnetPresident of the Exporters Club, and Patricia Sanzexecutive director of Exportun and coordinator of the Cooperation and Social Projects working group of the Spanish Club of Exporters and Investors, highlights the reduced or non-existent presence of Spanish companies in the implementation of projects financed by Spanish cooperation, which is striking compared to the practice of other neighboring countries, which generally take advantage of these initiatives to strengthen their image with the territories and populations benefiting from the financing.
Within the framework of the new legal framework for cooperation being discussed in Congress, the Exporters and Investors Club believes that “we have to get away from certain obsolete concepts which mean that the operation of Spanish development aid credits is very different from that of our European neighbours”.
Among other measures, the Exporters’ Club proposes that credits for development aid projects, while contributing to the achievement of their objectives, can be used to strengthen Spain’s image abroad, such as the other neighboring countries are doing, and not limit itself to being a source of financial resources for other donors. Furthermore, it considers that financial aid in the form of loans must support, in the beneficiary countries, the sectors in which Spanish companies are recognized worldwide for their technology and know-how.
The Exporters Club also believes that funds should once again be allocated for non-reimbursable technical assistance. “In this way, studies and analyzes could be made available to support decision-making related to development projects that also serve Spain’s national objectives. Let’s not forget that Spanish development cooperation policy is part of the state’s external action,” the experts say. They also suggest promoting collaboration with other European financial instruments to strengthen the presence of Spanish companies, for example by co-financing operations with the European Union through “blending” (combined financing) or the granting of guarantees.
Finally, they consider it essential to make financing processes more operationally agile, so as to “reduce the current bureaucracy and complexity of decision-making”. “Experts point out that it would be desirable to carry out a thorough analysis to determine whether the best way to achieve this would be to create a new fund without separate legal personality, as proposed in the bill, or through a financing instrument or an entity with its own legal personality”.
Since December 2010, development aid credits from the Spanish state have been channeled through the Spanish Fund for the Promotion of Development (FONPRODE), which is managed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) . Its creation aimed to provide cooperation policy with an appropriate financial instrument and to ensure that Spain’s official development assistance reached 0.7% of GDP. From now on, within the framework of the proposed reform, its transformation into FEDES (Spanish Fund for Sustainable Development without its own legal personality) is envisaged..
Currently, the value of FONPRODE’s loan portfolio amounts to more than 500 million euros in 65 countries, mainly in Africa and Latin America. The portfolio is funded through financial contributions to projects led by multilateral organizations or third parties, two-thirds of which are directed to sectors such as rural community development or microfinance. The processing of FONPRODE credits is slow and bureaucratic, with up to 8 different Spanish authorities involved.