The elected president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla, held a meeting today with Spanish businessmen at the headquarters of the Business Confederation, on the occasion of his visit to Spain, to publicize the priorities of the new Government, after his inauguration as president of the Nation on January 14, 2020. The Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, participated in the Meeting; the CEOE CEO, Antonio Garamendi, and the International Director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Jaime Montalvo, among other representatives of the Government and business institutions.

Giammattei was accompanied by the designated Foreign Minister, Pedro Brolo; his counterpart in Economics, Antonio Malouf; and Energy, Alberto Pimentel; the designated private secretary, Miguel Martínez; the president's advisor, Jairo Ponce; the head of the Bank, Maynor Mejía; and the president of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala, Rafael Briz.

Reform Plan in Guatemala

The president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla, spoke of the measures that his Government will adopt and which are reflected in the “Innovation and Development Plan”, planned for the next fifteen years. In this regard, he mentioned that said Plan revolves around five priority axes, based on productivity and competitiveness; human development; effective governance to attract investment and development; transparency and efficiency in the various fields; and relations with the world, in order to restore trust.

Among his priorities, Giammattei contemplated promoting educational reform; improve the health system; develop the energy system; create a climate of legal certainty, based on clear rules to protect investors; and promulgate respect for investment and private property. He also said that Spain represents a role model for Guatemala, thanks to its competitive industry and the leadership of its companies. The president also expressed his willingness for the Central American country to become a logistics center in the region, through the construction of ports and railway lines that connect the two oceans (Atlantic and Pacific). He finally advocated promoting and fostering strategic alliances with foreign companies to contribute to the inclusive and sustainable growth of the country.

Bilateral relations

CEOE CEO Antonio Garamendi congratulated the new president-elect of Guatemala on his next appointment, and recalled that It is a very close country for us and with which we have worked intensely, especially in the preparation and development of the last Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Antigua. In this regard, he took the opportunity to highlight the excellent bilateral relations that both countries maintain and highlighted the presence of Spanish companies in key sectors of the Guatemalan economy, such as telecommunications, energy or agribusiness. He also referred to the institutional and regulatory framework, the result of excellent relations between the European Union and Guatemala. Special attention deserves, according to Garamendi, the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Central America, which entered into force in 2013 and has allowed boosting trade between Spain and Guatemala above 40% in the last six months.

During his speech, Garamendi stressed the need to strengthen public governance, through the improvement of the judicial system and the fight against corruption, in order to establish a climate of security and trust for investors. He suggested, along the same lines, to improve the institutional and regulatory framework to boost investment and eliminate uncertainty among investors; and insisted on promoting a framework of public-private partnerships that will attract the necessary private capital to undertake the investments required for the modernization of public infrastructure and services that the country needs to achieve the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.

The Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, stressed that Spanish companies are committed to Guatemala and this fact is reflected in that Spain is the main European investor and supplier of goods and services in the country. "This is due, in part, to the effort made by the Guatemalan authorities to generate a business climate favorable to investment, taking advantage of the high levels of competitiveness offered by the country," he said.

He also explained that Spanish investment is attracted to Guatemala, not only because it is the largest economy in the region, but because it is the gateway to the Central American market; and pointed out that Guatemala requires more investment in infrastructure, which is also an opportunity for Spanish companies with great knowledge in this sector.

The director of International of the Chamber of Spain, Jaime Montalvo, has referred in his speech to the close relations between the two countries. Spain is the main European investor in Guatemala, with more than 150 companies established in that market, and also the main exporter. In that sense, "the Spanish Chambers of Commerce are available to their new Government to maintain a fluid relationship and strengthen ties between our business communities, building a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable relationship," he said.

Montalvo has also highlighted the role of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala, “one of the best exponents of the possibilities offered by inter-company collaboration between our countries and one of the main engines for attracting and consolidating Spanish investment in Guatemala".

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