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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la cena inaugural del Foro España-Estados Unidos

Santa Barbara. California (EE.UU.), 15.11.2013

G

​ood evening to all and thank you very much for your warm welcome.

The Princess and I are delighted to celebrate with you the coming of age of the United States-Spain Council Forum, with this inaugural dinner.

Twice in a row, we meet on American soil. For a Spaniard, to do so in California and in Santa Barbara is the closest thing to being at home. But do not despair; let me assure you that next year, we look forward to greeting you all in Spain.

Nuestra presencia hoy demuestra nuestro firme apoyo y compromiso con los objetivos de este encuentro y, en general, con el excelente trabajo desarrollado por la Fundación Consejo España-Estados Unidos y el US-Spain Council.

Quiero destacar la importancia y significado del Foro España–EEUU, como ejercicio que permite el encuentro y la interacción —amistosa y productiva—, no sólo de las sociedades civiles de ambos países, sino también de sus representantes en la administración pública y la esfera política.

El éxito de estos 18 Foros España–EEUU está directamente conectado con el trabajo diario de las personas que forman parte de las dos organizaciones que integran el Consejo España-EE.UU., y, muy en particular, con el liderazgo de sus dos Presidentes: Juan Rodríguez Iniciarte y el Senador Bob Menéndez.

I would like to thank Juan for the intense work he has carried out during these past four years at the head of the Fundación Consejo España–EEUU. On this last Forum that you will co-preside I’m happy to express the shared and general recognition we all owe you for your dedication, your passion and good principles. I look back with particular fondness, for obvious reasons —as I’m sure you do—, to the Forum you organized in your home town, the city of Oviedo in Asturias, in 2011; a memorable moment for all of us, as it was for the people of Asturias.

I would also like to make a special acknowledgement of the work done by Senator Menéndez since 2009 as the host of the Spain–United States Fora held in Washington DC, Hoboken (New Jersey) and here today in Santa Barbara.

Undoubtedly, Senator Menéndez has known how to give the US-Spain Council a fundamental boost, showing his extraordinary political capability. This capability was rewarded this year by the US Senate appointing him Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a responsibility of extraordinary importance.

Dear Bob, your words in the documentary “The Latino List” about how influential and exemplary your mother was in your education and professional career are highly inspirational to me. For her, failure, in the sense of inhibition or cowardice in the face of adversity, “was not an option”.

In this regard, I truly believe that your career and the brave political commitment you show every day is the fulfilment of a promise you make to the people of the United States that you represent and above all, the “fulfilment of a promise” to your mother. Congratulations.

Dear friends,

In 2013, we celebrate 500 years since Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean to western civilization, to European eyes; it is also the 500th anniversary of Ponce de León’s arrival to the coast of Florida and the 300th anniversary of the birth of Fray Junípero Serra.

We are here today embarked on a journey of recognition of our common heritage, embodied by the spirit of Junípero Serra, one of the first Californians.

His legacy, through the various missions of the Camino Real, is a testimony of character, resilience, boldness and generosity. Traits both the United States and Spain share as nations. We have always aspired to the greatness inspired by Father Serra’s own motto: “Siempre Adelante, Always Forward”.

It is most appropriate to say here, today, in California —which represents so well the ideas of openness and innovation— that the legacy of Fray Junípero, his striving for universality, his pioneering spirit, should drive us towards new goals and a more ambitious future.

Indeed, one of the major challenges of our day, for the US and for Europe, as you well know, is called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This agreement will not only create the largest free trade zone on the planet, but it will also have a profound social and cultural impact, and will undoubtedly and inevitably lead to greater integration on both shores of the Atlantic.

Spain, “Always Forward” and conscious of the historic opportunity this agreement represents, is fully committed to the current negotiation process because, ultimately, we wish to rise to the challenges presented in our fast-moving and tremendously competitive globalised world.

Our visit to California has given us ample opportunities to follow that vision through the experiences of young Spanish entrepreneurs, who are building a common future of technology and innovation; and also the ones experienced by established companies that are leaders in various fields and strong players in the world market. And I can safely say that Spain is committed and proud to be part of the creativity and dynamism that makes this State so unique.

As you all know, the Forum we held in New Jersey last year took place at a tough moment, especially in economic terms, for Spain.

Despite this, the presence of Spanish companies in the US has been growing steadily in the past ten years. As an example, there were barely 10 companies at the origins of the Fundación Consejo España-EEUU, and today we have grown to be 43. These are large firms that have been the main actors of the “modern” Spanish landing in the US during the last decade. This becomes evident in the growth of bilateral trade, but especially in the volume of Spanish investment in the U.S.

As of January 1st 2012, the total Spanish direct investment stock in the US grew to nearly 48 billion €, Spain’s 3rd investment destination in the world, behind Brazil and the UK.

On its part, total direct US investment stock in Spain, also as of January 1st 2012, was 43,02 billion €, placing it second after Italy.

Today, Spanish business presence in the US is very important. We have over 700 Spanish companies established on American soil, providing jobs to over 78,000 workers.

We still have a long way to go, but the Spanish economy is on the right track. Many of the major imbalances have been corrected. We can see this, for example, in the influx of capital in recent months, the backing from large investment groups and the considerable drop in the Spanish spread, together with the reports issued by prestigious analysts and foreign investment banks.

The figures speak for themselves; public deficit and private debt have dropped and continue to fall; Spain has recovered all the competitiveness lost since 1999 and continues to improve on it; productivity is up noticeably; and we have a more solvent and efficient financial sector.

Spain is the 4th major economy in the Euro Zone and the 13th in the world in terms of GDP. Spanish companies are world leaders in some of the key sectors, including those with a high technological component like renewable energy, infrastructure management, biotechnology, environmental technology and water treatment.

Our country is working hard to exit the crisis and face the future with renewed confidence. We must continue working together so that this growth becomes a tangible reality that translates into new opportunities, most especially for our youth, who are particularly —and so harshly— affected by the high rates of unemployment we suffer.

Our performance in capturing foreign investment, reflected on hard data, is also a positive sign of the changing trend in our economy. This is a good time to invest in Spain, a country whose competitiveness has improved outstandingly, a grand market open to the world, where US companies are always welcome.

I raise my glass to propose a toast to your valuable contribution to the friendship and the relationship between Spain and the United States. Let us work hand in hand in building a common future for the benefit of our two countries and peoples.

Thank you.

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