Thursday, March 11, 2010

An economic model for a developing country

Albert Montón is a producer and screenwriter of documentary films. This originally appeared on his blog.
Making a country starts with making companies in your country: globalization is comprised of people and companies that share globally but live locally. —Manuel Castells

From Thursday to Sunday. It's already been 4 days and you can still hear the clamor of the economic data, the clarifying explanations, the suggestive ideas, and why not say it?, the indignant evidence of the plundering of Catalonia and the (alas!) Catalan Countries. The presentation by the Cercle Català de Negocis (CCN) [Catalan Business Circle] gives us a lot to sink our teeth into.

The first surprising thing is the absolute lack of any mention of identity. It was all figures and objective economic data and thus, as equally contested as it could be accepted. That shouldn't be surprising—it is the Catalan Business Circle, right?—but it turns out that they are in favor of an idea, independence, that in this country has only been discussed to date as a sort of folkloric and emotional pie in the sky.

As Ireland and Finland, among others, have shown in this globalized world, countries prosper if they have a clear economic model to apply. A State, therefore, has the obligation of guaranteeing the resources for its own development. And that is exactly what is keeping Catalonia from becoming a developing country, because the foundation of the incompatibility between Spain and Catalonia is the economic model itself.

Let's be clear: Catalonia has been good at taking advantage of certain values like work, effort, savings, entrepreneurial spirit, risk and innovation, all mixed together with a dash of creativity that has resulted not only in material but also cultural and artistic wealth. It's not peculiar then, that the country went through the industrial revolution at the proper time and forged an economic fabric—that continues to this day—woven from small and medium businesses.

Can we say the same thing about Spain?

Spain didn't even have an industrial revolution, has not benefited from the agrobusiness sector, doesn't know how to take advantage of the privileged geographic position that it occupies. Instead, it is currently looking to lead a great European bank—a strategy which is more monetary than entrepreneurial—and continues to congratulate itself on its past tied to Latin America, by attempting to be a service provider (of telecommunications, energy...). Spain is a country that makes misfortune out of virtue: in the corner of the world that it is, with all of the advantages that come from belonging to the Mediterranean, it's content to be nothing more than a sunny beach resort for retired folks.

Why then, should we sacrifice ourselves to a model that doesn't satisfy our needs?

The day that Catalonia becomes independent, the day that we can bet on favoring the strong points of our own economy, that day we will develop the model that we should and we will become a developing country. Catalonia is prepared to convert itself, taking advantage of the geostrategic position that it occupies, in the doorway to Europe from Asia and Africa. We will be able to develop a logistical sector that allows us to receive components from the Orient, transform them with a high added value, and send them on to the European Continent. It must be our goal to convert the Catalan business community into a world leader in the biotech, pharmaceutical and agrobusiness sectors, among others. And, then, in addition, we will be able to compete in the new market of cultural and high quality tourism.

Can anyone doubt which of these two models will favor the Spanish State?

Only if we are independent will we be able to develop ourselves. And it's starting to become urgent, because the current Spanish economic situation in Europe is deplorable, and Catalonia resents it. Businesses at home, that were already hurting, cannot support very many more years of the weight of a State that strangles its potential and refuses it any support. It's not the threat of a boycott that should worry us. In fact, the boycott of 2006 against Catalan Cava was barely felt, and in the end, the rise in exports finished off the whole exercise with a rise in sales. It's also not very likely that any of the large Spanish companies in the strategic sectors (telecommunications, energy, etc.) would be willing to forego Catalonia as a market.

The real boycott is not against cava, it's that of a State that cruelly tries to squash the Catalan economy, that doesn't allow us to have a decent network of infrastructures, that gets in the way of our needs, that prioritizes Madrid as a center of communications, that keeps the Barcelona Airport from becoming the hub of the Mediterranean that it is destined to be, that trades—with Maragall's complicity—the high-speed train for an Olympic Games that, let us say again, chains us to fiscal deficit.

With just the 22,000 million euros that Madrid steals from us every year, the country would rise to take the fourth position on the list of GDP in Europe. And that would only be the beginning.

That said, the question has already shifted from "why are you an independentist?" to "why the hell aren't you an independentist?"

P.S. This article was written collaboratively with Montserrat Badia i Capdevila, who scolded me for not adding to my earlier post the rich presentation of the CCN. Even though I haven't yet finished with this theme, I have to agree that two heads think better than one.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting and, I believe, true - let's hope independence arrives soon and with it a future for Catalonia.
    best wishes.