Interview to Antonio Garrigues Walker Antonio Garrigues, president of the prestigous law firm Garrigues lawyers: “We are in times where courage is above any other values”
Which are the economic prospects of the Spanish economy? The Spanish economy is at a high activity level of activity, we still have very high growth rates, and higher than most europeans. The prevision for this year and 2008 is still very good but the problem is that the Spanish economy and the European economy have to understand that the positive cycle that we have had until now is slowing down and that is going to get worse. The world is going to go into a situation that’s much less positive , mid 2008 so buissinessmen and politicians will do well to consider that possibility. I don’t say that it’s going to be very serious, but we must be prepared. Which are the emergent sections for creating employment? I consider that construction is still a very important element and we can’t regard it as an important factor of employment especially for immigrants . At the present I don’t see anything that can substitute the quantity of things that the construction has given to the economy in Spain. But I imagine that in the energy industry there will be increasing employment and possibly in sectors directly connected with energy. Now, talking about construction , how do you see the evolution of the increasing now that it is said that it’s slowing down even the housing bubble? I think the sector is still very strong. Whoever thinks that the bubble is going to burst is wrong, they can lose gas and air, it’s logic and it forms part of the natural cycles of economy, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to dramatize this problem. Indeed it’s going to slowdown and we are going to have to tackle the future in other ways. I’ve had conversations with people and from the housing sector and they don’t seem very
worried, they know that they will have to readjust and reorganize, but the Spanish industry is very well prepared for this situation. What do you think about us advancing so Little in I+D+i? As to I+D we are still at the end of the line,that fact is irrefuctable, as much as it is said that we are improving , we do it with respect to what. If the others. In that field , we must all reflect , it’s not enough with what the government does, the university and the buisness have to tackle the problem a solid way. Spain has to change their behavior in this subject. Nobody doubts it. How do you achieve a strategy of internationalization for a firm under construction? Our gabinet accompanies the Spanish buisness in those places where there is a demand for our services. We already have an implantaction in Asia, with an office in China, In Morroco we have an office in Casablanca with a very solid network in Latinamerica, mostly because there are many Spanish buisnisses. Now we have another Project of opening an office in the U.S, a country where the hispanic market is growing. We are also in Brussels and we will soon be in London because we consider that we must be present there, also in the olden Europe and in countries in the East. We simply do it following the Spanish businisses which is what the American lawyers have done following the American businesses. This permits us to know the legislation of every zone, and start to apply this legislation. In Shanghai we are assessoring Spanish buisinesses and making contact with Chinese lawyers. We already have chinese lawyers and we will slowly apply the local laws. How do you consider that a Pyme can apply this model to iniciate in the exporting task? For example, what happened in the “Comunidad Valenciana” has been a transformation for fighting with quality. In first place, having a new sense to audacity, we are in advice thy’re not going to do anything or maybe something, but to travel and so that they see what they do there. The experience that we have in Casablanca, Shanghai or Beijing, the middle business men have done a bet to audacity and innovation are having a lot of spectacular success, my advice is that they internationalize themselves, that they go there and talk to the people there. They can also consult the ICEX, or the Commercial Chamber or our people out in the market and they will see the quantity of things that they can do even if they don’t believe it. What is your opinion about the international role of Spain and how it considers to be competing with emerging countries?
It can’t be fixed based on placing barriers, it would be like putting doors in the field. We need to know how to work with them. Compete with cheaper labors is impossible to know, that we can’t do it in China, in India or Eastern Europe. We will have to compete in other areas where mainly quality issues have a high competitive edge, such as Zara, which is installed in the Japanese market it’s the most exquisite and it’s having a huge success. You can always compete but we have to find your competition. What happened in Valencia, for example, has been a transformation to struggle with quality, you can’t compete with something that costs 5 € but you can do so and compete admirably.
What do you think we can do to avoid piracy and the entry of Asian footwear? I’m afraid that we find ways, just as we discussed earlier, improving competitiveness and improving the product’s quality. This can’t be fixed just placing barriers, it would be like putting doors on the field. What future do you think awaits for manufacturing industries , what do they have to do? I think that if they do what they have to do , the future looks not only good, admirable. Manufacturing industries have demonstrated their ability to resist and adapt to changes, always striving to make a product guarantee, relying on the quality of your brand.