You are in:

6th Conference of Ambassadors

Arancha González Laya sees economic diplomacy as "cornerstone" for economic recovery and job creation

Monday 18 January 2021

"At a European and international level, this must be our primary goal", stressed the minister, who identified the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan as "the backbone of this collective effort".

Arancha González Laya said this at her speech on the first day of the 6th Conference of Ambassadors that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, inaugurated in Madrid and which gathers the top Spanish representatives overseas and before international bodies for two days until the event will be brought to a close by King Felipe VI on Tuesday.

The minister took the opportunity of talking to diplomats to ask them to make a special effort to support our companies and our trade and investment in the justification that "economic diplomacy cannot and must not only be an attractive slogan". It must be the cornerstone of our work", she emphasised.

As well as economic diplomacy, another of the primary lines of action for the minister is feminist diplomacy, considering that the defence and promotion of women is a country proposal, a question of principles, of ethical values in which we believe and the recognition of a reality. "We cannot make social, political or economic progress, nor progress on a national or global plane if we push half of the population to one side, she warned.

The minister also advocated placing the defence of human rights on the front line of foreign action, to which end she asked diplomats to "focus our efforts on the fight against people trafficking, above all for the purpose of sexual exploitation". In this regard, she announced that her ministerial department is already working on an initiative for the revision and reform of the Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish people trafficking, particularly of women and girls.

After completing a year in her ministerial position last Wednesday, the minister gave "a sincere and heartfelt message of gratitude to and support for" the diplomats, for their "dedication" and "sacrifice" in 2020, particularly at such important moments as in the acquisition of the medical equipment we needed, in the repatriation of Spaniards and in setting up a European recovery fund.

As the event's host, she also expressed her congratulations on beginning 2021 by holding this Conference of Ambassadors for the first time in 12 years. For Arancha González Laya, this new year must be one of recovery, of transformation and of resilience whilst urging the participating ambassadors to project the image of Spain as a dynamic, responsible and supportive country.

Four pillars

Along this line, the President of the Government sent out a message of hope that 2021 will be the year of the great economic recovery and transformation of Spain, based on four main pillars: the ecological transition, the digital transition, territorial cohesion and gender equality.

Pedro Sánchez, who highlighted in his speech the role of the foreign sector and multilateralism during the pandemic, advocated a transforming foreign policy to which end he recalled that greater resources have been allocated in the National Budget to tackling such challenges as the climate crisis, digitalisation and inequalities.

The President of the Government stressed that 2021 must be the year in which Spain beds down its international reputation as a democratic, advanced, plural and avant-garde country because, as he remarked, "our society is one of the most prosperous, free and egalitarian in the world".

For her part, the Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, highlighted that "the environmental and energy transition agenda has been shaped as one with the greatest foreign dimension".

In her speech to the ambassadors, she specified that the transformation towards a new model of electricity generation based on renewable energies, self-consumption and energy efficiency are reshaping the international panorama, where new energy leaders are emerging. She also stated that it is necessary to place biodiversity on the agenda, which means access to basic raw materials, but also represents vulnerability, such as in the outbreak of new viruses, "which makes it necessary to work and cooperate to maintain the balance", she added.

European trade policy

For her part, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, who also took part in the event, advocated the need to begin a process of revision of the trade policy of the European Union, which must seek to integrate commerce in the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to ensure that economic cooperation and trade are fair, inclusive and sustainable. The Minister for Trade also called for the goal of open European strategic autonomy to be achieved, which allows effective multilateralism and cooperation to be combined with open, fair, sustainable and digital trade.

As regards the tourism sector, Reyes Maroto explained that the priority at this time is to reactivate tourism activity while guaranteeing health and safety. The Minister for Tourism called for collaboration from the ambassadors in conveying the image of Spain as a safe destination and generating confidence in travel to our country. "Because we know that tourists want to come to Spain and that, if they are provided with the necessary safety conditions, they are willing to do so", concluded the minister.

This first working day concluded with a speech from the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean, Cristina Gallach, who reviewed the situation of trans-Atlantic relations with the ambassadors gathered at this year's edition. The event also included the participation of the Director-General for Africa, Raimundo Robredo, who closed off an intense day of work that will continue on Tuesday with the participation of the Second Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Social Rights and 2030 Agenda, Pablo Iglesias, the Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, the Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, who will take stock of the two working days before the event is officially brought to a close by His Majesty the King.

Non official translation