“Brexit has not stopped investment, but it has complicated access to much-needed talent.”

Since April, Grant Thornton has been the Senior Partner of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, the institution that regulates bilateral relations, characterized by old and new challenges.

If the only visible impact is that of capital flows, it may seem that Brexit is a mirage. Since 2020, when the UK’s exit agreement from the European Union entered into force, the British state has remained In the “top three” for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Spain, creating more than 100,000 direct jobs. but Isabel Perea, President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain Since the last opening

If the only visible impact is that of capital flows, it may seem that Brexit is a mirage. Since 2020, when the UK’s exit agreement from the European Union came into force, the British state has remained In the “top three” for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Spain, creating more than 100,000 direct jobs. but Isabel Perea, President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain He knows well since last April that divorce still poses challenges to bilateral relations.

As a partner at Grant Thornton with over 20 years of experience, Perea joined the governing body of the Chamber’s Barcelona delegation in April 2020, amid the pandemic. “It was not easy to work remotely with a team that did not know each other. “The numbers are supported, although we had to change networks for meetings in Teams,” he told EL MUNDO in his first interview since the appointment, in which he takes over the leadership of a century-old organization facing new challenges, from sustainability to artificial intelligence. , while still dealing with the hangover from Brexit.

Why is room important?
We are the only independent organization working to strengthen bilateral relations with the UK in the field of trade and investment. In addition, we advocate for the interests of our partners in decision-making bodies through what we call advocacy committees.

What are business lines?
There are five committees dedicated to data collection, R&D collaboration, or culture and talent. One of the most recent is Education, which works in coordination with companies from both countries, especially as a result of the new reality of Britain’s exit from the European Union and its effects.
Is there any new focus to attract British capital to Spain?
Health sciences and everything related to the world of startups. We see that British companies have invested here and are already setting up business centers in Spain, which is why our ability to attract talent, not just local, but international, including British, is so important.
Has it become more difficult since Britain left the European Union?
There is a very deep historical relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom. Investment appetite works both ways. Brexit marked a change, but it did not result in a decrease in investments, on the contrary, they increased. But it has affected, for example, labor mobility, the movement of talent that is so essential for companies and which can lead to reduced competitiveness.
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There are elections scheduled this year halfway around the world, and in the UK as well. Do you think political change will affect investment?
We don’t evaluate political issues, our job is different, but for years we have been living in a moment of maximum global uncertainty, starting with a pandemic that has completely changed the world. Geopolitical conflicts affect all businesses…it is the environment in which we operate.

Is there legal uncertainty in the UK or Spain?
I dare not talk about legal uncertainty, but Brexit has changed the framework, with trade barriers increasing the complexity and costs of transactions. Standards have changed too. Regarding talent, it is necessary to establish policies that facilitate mobility, and to have legal guarantees.
Which sectors were affected the most?
To the most organized. To the chemist, pharmacist and food specialist. This has increased the need for consulting entities to help companies navigate and comply with this new framework.
To settle the initial question, does the British investor see Spain as a legally safe destination?
The data suggests that they should look at it this way, to the extent that investment flow does not decline. Finally, before investing, companies analyze the regulatory framework.
One of the sectors with the greatest potential is artificial intelligence. Do you think different EU and UK regulations for AI could affect investment?
It will have to be evaluated. It is true that there is great concern in general, but not because of the way the UK regulates or the way the European Union regulates… but rather the way China regulates. It’s a global issue. AI affects everything, and data management is the big challenge we face.

Europe is enacting some protectionist measures in the face of competition from giants such as China or the United States. Where does this leave British companies?
We don’t get into those questions.
Do you think the Spanish financial framework is conducive to investment?
There is no common policy in the European Union, but Spain has its own. The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union also led to a change in this area. A new challenge for companies to ensure that they meet requirements, for example, in all transactions between related parties, where regulation is not exactly the same from one entity to another.
So, don’t you think that the Spanish national fiscal framework could be a factor discouraging foreign investments?
I cannot give an opinion on this matter either.
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