The COVID-19 pandemic struck a blow for much of the global economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was no exception. FDI as a whole declined 42% with developed economies seeing the biggest decline. One exception to the degree of decline was Catalonia, the region of Spain containing Barcelona. According to a report from Catalonia Trade & Investment, Catalonia’s decline was only 22.7%, almost half the global amount.
That Catalonia has weathered the storm so well is indicative of a positive economic picture. 2020 built upon the previous 4 years, which saw consistent increases in FDI projects. In these 5 years from 2016-2020, the United States lead incoming investment followed by Germany, France, the UK and Switzerland.
These investments are followed by a corresponding increase in hiring. Jobs related to foreign investment increased by 15,138 between 2016 and 2020. This is the second highest level in Western Europe. As a percentage, technology products have seen the greatest increase nearly doubling since 2016. Investments like these help Barcelona obtain EU-Startups’ designation as the Top Startup Hub in Southern Europe for 2020.
These technological innovations have not detracted from more traditional industries. The auto industry has maintained as prominent place in the sphere of foreign investment in Catalonia. While falling in 2020, the auto industry received the second most foreign investment both in 2020 and the four years prior.
All of this points to the status of Barcelona and Catalonia as global hubs, but not only as places to visit and live. With world class universities and a favorable investment climate, the economy of Barcelona and Catalonia more broadly has shown itself capable of maintaining its status through the most difficult of years.