The joint British Chamber of Commerce and City of Malaga event was held in early October at Malaga City Hall to discuss Malaga’s potential in light of Brexit. Three months after referendum result, the British have already digested and assimilated a result that nobody expected, that will see them outside of Europe in two years. They will have to reinvent themselves and explore new options and markets to remain the fifth world economy.
The UK will need allies within Europe and Malaga, could be an ideal companion in terms of setting up bases within Europe. It is the third European city with more daily links with Britain, a similar time zone, a good climate, low cost of living and a pool of ready and willing highly qualified workers. All these factors were highlighted by several experts who participated in the event Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities for the Malaga economy.
Lesley Batchelor, Director General of the Institute of Exports (IOE) spoke of the current uncertainty and likely exit of the UK from the single market but also of the opportunities of having close links with Spain could give. Besides the likely increased bureaucracy and tariffs she also spoke of the likely need for the UK to have a hub in Europe and Spain could provide that and also assist in accessing new markets such as that of Latin America.
A Senior Executive Partner of Gartner, an American research and advisory firm, Javier González spoke of the types of factors a business should look at when setting up overseas such as the costs of setting up, availability of suppliers and workers and compatibility with timetables etc. He also placed Málaga next to Madrid, Barcelona y La Coruña. González recommended that Málaga should study the international markets and look objectively at itself in order take advantage of opportunities and continue to grow and improve.
Derek Langley, vice president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, acknowledged that “the next two years will be difficult, but companies that decide to leave the UK can come to Malaga because it is an international city “. It is already happening as the capital of the Costa del Sol has installed six British companies since 2007 (Sequel, Sun Agile Software, Ebury, Circle Payments, ITRS and Stanton Fisher) with a total of 210 workers. Langley said the key is to “be proactive” and sell Malaga not only as a tourist destination, which is already fully known in Britain but also as a place to do business and settle.
One of the measures for Malaga to knock on the door of British firms is to use as intermediaries those entrepreneurs who have already opted for the Costa del Sol. One of them is Mario Garcia, CEO of Sequel, a leading software company the City. As a Malagueño living in London and with dual nationality he finds it easy to sell Malaga as a place to do business. He recalled how he and his colleagues and friends felt after Brexit. “It was a mixture of surprise, grief and frustration, but now there is optimism because the country was divided but now everyone is working at the moment in the same direction,” he stressed. In his opinion, “Malaga has a great chance because the Brexit will be a boost for the City “. Malaga presents a friendly face in contrast to other cities like Paris and Berlin that have been more hostile and this has generated animosity” “Britain is going to move forward and Malaga will have the opportunity to be associated with that “he said..