Topic: Investment Opportunities in Andorra
Host: Consul General Katie Stana
Date and Time: Recorded March 2022
Brief Description of Call: The Direct Line Webinar program is proud to present “Investment Opportunities in Andorra,” the first of many upcoming, pre-recorded “Direct Line On Demand” programs featuring investment and export opportunities for U.S. firms, including small to medium-sized American enterprises in smaller markets. In just ten minutes, learn why this is the best time for American companies to consider investing in Andorra. The program is hosted by Katie Stana, U.S. Consul General in Barcelona, and Marc Galabert, Secretary of State for Economic Diversification and Innovation of the Government of Andorra. For more information on the opportunities underscored in this recording, American companies can reach out directly to the U.S. Consulate team promoting American companies in Andorra, at AndorraDirectLine@state.gov.
OMAR MEDINA: Hello, my name is Omar Medina. I’m the Economic Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona, Spain. I’m here with our Consul General, Katie Stana and with the Andorra Secretary of State for Economic Diversification and Innovation, Marc Galabert. Katie and Marc will talk about investment opportunities in Andorra. Katie?
KATIE STANA: Thank you, Omar. Hello. I’m Katie Stana, the Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona. My team and I manage the day-to-day bilateral relationship between the United States and Andorra. I wanted to talk briefly on why you should consider investing in Andorra. The U.S.-Anorran relationship is excellent. Andorra is a close European ally that shares U.S. views on good governance, the rule of law, transparency, and free market economics. Andorra and the United States work together at the United Nations to tackle global problems like COVID and climate change and we are actively seeking new opportunities to strengthen our shared values, economic prosperity, and educational exchanges.
There’s no doubt that the COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economies of the world and Andorra was no exception. However, out of the shadow of the pandemic, the government of Andorra seized an opportunity to strengthen its traditional sectors like tourism and banking while taking significant steps to diversify and digitalize its economy. For example, Andorra’s Digital Transformation Program seeks to modernize government services, upscale current businesses on the digital economy, conform to EU regulations, and attract new investments through upgraded digital infrastructure and services. Additionally, Andorra recently opened an air route from Madrid to the Andorra La Seu d’Urgell Airport making it easier for foreigners to access the country. Companies are taking notice. Grifols, the Spanish pharmaceutical with over $9 billion invested in the U.S. market will open an immunology research hub in Andorra in 2023.
Marc Galababert, Andorra’s Secretary of State for Economic Diversification and Innovation will talk about two important sectors that are right for U.S. investments. But before we get into specifics, I wanted to let you know that my team is here to support American companies interested in doing business in Andorra. At the conclusion of this video, our economics officer will provide you with an email address where you can inquire more about these investment opportunities. Thank you. Over to you, Marc.
MARC GALABERT: Thank you, Consular General. Dear American business community, my name is Marc Galabert and I am the Secretary of State for Economic Diversification and Innovation in Andorra. First of all, I would like to thank the American Consulate and the American Embassy in Spain and in Andorra for
the opportunity to record this short video and present the economic framework and the economic opportunities in Andorra.
Andorra is located in Europe between France and Spain and we are very, very small. We are only 310 square miles and our population is around 78,000 people only. I will share my screen to present what are the main opportunities in Andorra. Although we are very small, we believe we are a very dynamic economy. Our GDP is around $3.1 billion and this 2021, we had a growth of over 11%. Our GDP per capita which is above the EU average is around $39,000 and our unemployment rate remains very low, even with the pandemic. As you can see, we are an economy centered services and retail, financial, and real estate are one of the most traditional sectors in our economy. This is why to be more resilient, we want to diversify our economic model. However, the Andorran economy is an economy to trust. We had this foreign direct investment law passed in 2012 which opened the Andorran economy to foreign investment and since then, we’ve had a spectacular growth on the foreign direct investment around 7600% which makes 160% annual growth since the beginning. This bordered the 20% of the GDP in this year 2021. And although it is true that the foreign investment fell during the pandemic from the 10% to the 5.5%, the COVID management and also the economic measures set forward by the Andorran government reached to make foreign investment to grow up around 20% of the GDP again.
As you can see, the main investments remain in the real estate, retail, and business services and we are seeing a trend in more and more opportunities to invest in digital economy and also in biotech and this is the two sectors I want to speak to you on the Economic Diversification Program that we have in the Andorran economy. Is it also true that these investors by country are also very concentrated in between France and Spain, but we are always seeking to also diversify this origin of the investors to be able to be more resilient to the economic turmoil scenarios.
Besides being very dynamic, we believe that we live in one of the best countries in Europe, we have the second longest life expectancy of the world, only after Japan and we are covered by mountains. Actually, 90% of our territory is mountains and we are considered to be by the Lancet, the Lancet Review, one of the best, to have one of the best healthcare systems. All that is done because we are quite efficient in our public debt. We have only 40% of our GDP public debt and this is after the pandemic. Before the pandemic, it was around 35. However, our taxing framework is not very aggressive. Our indirect tax is only 4.5 and company and personal income tax is maximum 10%, no matter the income. This makes us to appear in the top World Bank paying taxes ranking being the 20th over 191 countries where you are more efficient in paying taxes. How is this competitive tax framework sustained in Europe? Well, because we are one of the top touristic destinations in Europe. We have 8 million visitors a year besides we are a very small population. We receive a lot of tourists and visitors that usually came for shopping and also for adventure and that help us to pay the indirect taxes.
Regarding the Economic Diversification Project, we focused on four big areas which are Digital Economy, Health, Education, Culture and Sports, and Eco friendly. We are very committed to sustainability. Actually, we implement the SDC Agenda from the United Nations and we are applying to be the whole country of biosphere reserve. However, today I want to speak about the digital economy and biotech industry. As the Consular General said, we’re both one of the top pharma companies in the world decided to invest and build an immunology laboratory, sorry, in Andorra to research and to innovate in this industry. We are also giving a big commitment to this sector by passing a law in bio-medicine, fully compliant with the European standards to give safety in the law to develop and to innovate in the
biotech industry. This is why we are exploring with the San Diego area, how some companies that are located there, Grifols among them, could come and have a company also in Andorra. We believe that the biotech industry is going to shape the future and we want to be part of that future.
Regarding digital economy, we are very committed to make, step forward in the digital world. We believe that the future is also going to be digital and we want to make more efficient and more digital the public administration, but also give the private companies the opportunities to compete in a digital world. And this is why we are focusing in blockchain companies, e-commerce, fintech industry, and also e-sports. We are planning to be one of the best spots to invest in e-sports industry in Europe and we just passed a law on digital economy that makes it easier for foreigners to come and work in Andorra for example, through the entrepreneurial visa or the digital nomad initiative. We want to be a country in which to invest and which to develop your life plan, but not getting constrained by the borders of our smallness, but to compete on the global market. We believe that the companies that should come to Andorra should come to live in Andorra, but to make business around the world. This is why from the Andorra business side, our economic promotion agency, we are at your disposal for any need you should have to plan your soft landing on the Andorran economy. Thank you very much.
MR. MEDINA: Thanks, Marc. If you’re interested in learning more about the investment opportunities in Andorra, you could email us at AndorraDirectLine@state.gov. Thank you.