– An Exclusive Interview with President of the Spanish Friends of China Association Antonio Miguel Carmona
There is a growing call in Spain’s business sphere for more cooperation with China, President of the Spanish Friends of China Association Antonio Miguel Carmona said recently in an exclusive interview with China Today in Beijing.
President of the Spanish Friends of China Association Antonio Miguel Carmona in an interview with China Today in September 2023 in Beijing.
In his capacity as professor of macroeconomics, Carmona has been at the helm of several multinationals. The former vice president of global energy giant Iberdrola Spain is now a member of the board of directors of different multinationals. The aim of his second and most recent visit to China has been to scout around for economic cooperation opportunities between Spanish companies and their Chinese peers.
Having first come to China in 1993, Carmona is stunned at the country’s progress. “I find the changes in China jaw-dropping. Thirty years ago, nobody in the West could ever have imagined what colossal achievements China would make.” This China trip is consequently a major eye-opener for Carmona as regards the effectiveness of China’s governance. “I believe in China and its development mode,” Carmona stated.
Cognizant of innovation as the major driving force behind the country’s economic growth, Carmona has closely monitored China’s technical achievements in this regard. “China’s technological progress is incredible,” he acknowledged. During his visit in September to the International Digital Economy Expo 2023 in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, he was particularly impressed by China’s advances in artificial intelligence. “They’re so impressive, so colossal. We must learn from them,” Carmona said.
Carmona spoke of his association’s planned establishment of an investment and trade center geared to linking Spanish and Chinese enterprises, seeking in particular cooperation in the hi-tech fields. He has consequently spent much of this China trip liaising with Chinese companies in this regard.
An advocate of free trade, Carmona fully supports China’s defense of the principle. “China is a country that has defended free trade across the world, while the United States has preferred protectionism recently,” Carmona observed. He believes that only free trade can promote common development. “We need an open world, as advocated by President Xi. If the world opens up and cooperates, the possibilities are immense. But if the world contracts and we turn our backs on each other, we will continue to swim, each in our small, sad pond, instead of in a vast sea,” he said.
The past two years have seen President Xi propose the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative which, Carmona believes, constitute humanity’s sole path to prosperity. China has moreover championed free trade, an open world, and infrastructure connectivity, all of which, in Carmona’s view, “are of benefit to the world.”
“We need to look at China with open eyes, listen to the country with open ears, and talk with China with a view to more trade and investment, because this is vital for the world as a whole,” he concluded.
As a member of the EU, “Spain is looking for what will most benefit the EU, and cooperation with China is the best choice,” Carmona told China Today. He went on to reveal that certain of Europe’s economic leaders intend urging the European Parliament to ratify the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment – which he regards as tremendously beneficial to the EU economy.
Global connectivity continues to improve as the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) navigates its second decade. This is largely due to the BRI infrastructure projects and facilitation of trade that have so boosted economic growth in related countries. The Initiative has clearly generated huge benefits and booming development for such countries which are also important for Spain, Carmona observed. There is hence a growing call in Spain’s economic sphere to convince the Spanish government to join the initiative, Carmona said. As an economist, Carmona advocates a new Bretton Woods agreement – Bretton Woods II, to stabilize the world monetary system, in which China should play an active role.
Marking as it does the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Spain diplomatic relations, the year 2023 has brought an array of bilateral cultural and economic exchanges, including the launch of the China-Spain Year of Culture and Tourism, and the Shenzhen-Madrid economic and trade cooperation conference. There is true eagerness in Spain’s cultural and economic sectors for more cooperation with China, according to Carmona. He also predicts more China visits from Spanish economic and cultural delegations and hence broader exchanges between our two countries.