Results of the 2022 Economic Report of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services

Results of the 2022 Economic Report of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services

Words from the Head of Government, M. I. Mr. Xavier Espot Zamora

Andorra la Vella, September 12, 2023

Distinguished authorities,

Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It has been twenty-eight years since the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services has drawn up the annual reference document on the economic reality of our country, on the evolution of the main magnitudes of the Andorran economy. And he said that it is the reference document because this entity has a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the behavior of our business fabric and, therefore, of our economy, and its thirty years of experience attest to this.

In September 1993, the General Council approved the Law for the creation of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services to respond to the economic development that Andorra had experienced in recent years and to the fact that it did not have a representative institution, of public nature, but private base, which guarantees the promotion of economic and business activity in defense of the general interests of Andorran companies. The creation of the Chamber also allowed the public administration to have an instrument to help guide and articulate the country's economic policy, always in a proportionate and representative manner, in accordance with the freedom of enterprise recognized by our Constitution

For this reason, today is also a good opportunity to recall these thirty years of history of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services and to thank the work of all its presidents and the professionals who are part of it. Despite the fact that all beginnings are hard, in the end logic always prevails and it is true that today no one doubts the fundamental role of the Chamber and the role it still has to play in the future to help create more economic activity and strengthen the current economic fabric.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last June, Alain Touraine, sociologist and writer and one of the last survivors of a generation of thinkers that has clearly marked Western thought, left us.

Touraine, who was reading events with a very broad view of history, argued that innovation has contributed more resources to the economy and deeper transformations in history than the accumulation of capital. He defended the creation of knowledge as the basis of everything, as the elementary instrument of all societies, of economic, technological, social and cultural progress. This staunch defense that Touraine made at the end of the 1970s is now more valid than ever and clearly points to one of our weaknesses, the result of a poorly diversified economy, which has always had as its basis the concentration of certain sectors. Therefore, what we need is to bet on diversification, on the knowledge economy, on innovation, on research and on new models of sustainable development. But it is not enough to repeat this mantra, it is necessary to activate all the levers, at least those available to the public authorities, to make it possible.

Thirty years ago, with the approval of the Constitution, we took one of the most important steps in the contemporary history of our country. Fifteen years later, we started a highly demanding and complex, but essential, process to achieve fiscal approval, recognition of international standards and economic openness. And we are currently in the final phase of the negotiations that must culminate in the progressive and structured participation of our country in the European internal market through the Association Agreement.

They say that the comparisons are hateful, but they are also necessary to remind and illustrate that there are certain fears that must be overcome if we want to prepare our country to lay the foundations of a more solid, sustainable, diversified economy that offers jobs more qualified work, of high added value if we also want to act thinking about the possibilities of our young people to develop a professional career in Andorra. Therefore, we must avoid short-term policies and think in terms of the future, what is the country we want to be in ten, fifteen or twenty years from now. It is clear that the Partnership Agreement alone will not work miracles, but it will give us the framework, the relationship, the tools and the recognition, and we will all have to put our resources into it: the talent , the effort, the ideas, the values and, in short, our capacities ‒which are not few‒ to continue the path we began to trace years ago: that of competitiveness, the democratization of the economy, the equity and the generation of wealth not only understood in chrematistic terms.


Mr President,

Do not think that I have come here only to make an allegation about the goodness of the Association Agreement, but I do ask you to continue to do more pedagogy among your affiliates. If you think this path is the right one, it is the right thing, you must do everything possible so that our synergies and yours go in the same direction. I am asking you for a vote of confidence in the Government because we are working and putting in a lot of effort to conclude a good Agreement that guarantees the economic and social prosperity of Andorra.

In any case, today is the day to review the state of health of our economy, to do the annual review that should help us detect and prevent any anomalies. The results show us that 2022 was the year in which the recovery of the Andorran economy was consolidated, even surpassing some of the pre-pandemic indicators, led by the tourism, construction and trade sectors. However, we agree that, although we enjoy good health, a series of challenges must be addressed at the national level so that our country is better prepared and can face with all guarantees the priorities that are emerge from the welfare state of the 21st century. For this reason, the challenges are not only economic, but go further and affect the bone, the model of the country we want.

In recent years, we have seen some threats appear, particularly on two of the most basic pillars of family economies: the cost of housing and the increase in the price of basic products. Threats that also have an impact in other areas, such as the lack of qualified professionals. Being able to access and maintain a home is one of the great challenges we face as a society, a problem that is not an isolated fact in our country, but which in Andorra is exacerbated by a lack of public land and by the high presence of second residences and tourist accommodation.

We have made housing an obsession with short-term measures, such as rental housing subsidies, to which we have allocated more than 8.5 million euros in 2022 and since the beginning of this year, and with medium and long-term measures from the protection or promotion of affordable housing with an investment of 50 million euros.

Responding to one of the commitments of the electoral program of Democrats for Andorra, last week we approved the Law on the temporary suspension of foreign investment in real estate. An initiative that temporarily suspends this type of investment and that is the step necessary prior until we establish, this autumn, the tax that will be levied on foreign investment in real estate. The aim is to have a direct impact to avoid the speculation that has been generated in recent years in the real estate market and try to moderate prices.

The question of housing is closely linked to the growth model of the country we want. A subject that generates many questions, with answers that must be determined by the ability to carry out policies that anticipate urban growth, that clearly commit to the energy transition and the fight against climate change, to respect our heritage natural and cultural and for social and environmental sustainability. However, they are also policies that require the participation of the rest of the institutions, especially the municipalities, which have urban planning in their hands. With no intention of re-entering any controversy, it is absolutely necessary that the Government and the commons go in the same direction because they have a fundamental role in the model of the country we want. The load studies that must determine the maximum growth capacity of the parishes are the instrument that must allow us to redirect the rudder of this model.

In the fall of last year, the employers and the unions were not able to reach an agreement to set the increase in the CPI in the Economic and Social Council. If you remember, it was the Government that finally fixed the increase in the CPI to curb inflation. Most of the countries around us have a long tradition and trust in these forums to reach transversal agreements between employers and unions, agreements that have allowed great progress to be made both to save jobs and to increase the productivity of companies. In this spirit, the Government promoted it in 2019.

I take advantage of this intervention to request an effort, both from the unions and from the employer, to weave more consensus and to accompany the Government in socio-economic, labor and occupational matters. During this legislature, we will continue to apply measures to avoid the loss of purchasing power of people with the minimum wage and, we will continue to increase it until it reaches 60% of the average wage, as marked by the European Social Charter; a measure that should also help us to be more attractive, with the collaboration of business, and be able to attract more qualified labor together with the increase in seasonal quotas or the transfer to the general quota of non-EU workers.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Our country continues to be a reference in the field of tourism, with sectoral figures that have a very important impact on our GDP. But despite this impact, it is also true that the fact of recognizing the relevant assets of the sector should not cloud us, and we must say, bluntly, that it also generates negative effects, such as massification and the danger of leaving a sector behind with professional and stable jobs. We want a more sustainable and quality tourism that fits with this global rethinking of the country model.

For this reason, we will draw up the Tourism Law to order and regulate the activities of the sector and to give the instruments to implement a tourism strategy based on quality, added value and sustainability; assets that will also be promoted within the framework of the collaboration agreement between the Chamber of Commerce, the CEA and the thirteen associations and companies in the country's tourism sector that we signed last March.

And closely linked to tourism is retail trade, one of the sectors that for some years has continued with low levels of activity due to a transformation that has not yet arrived, due to changes in consumer habits, due to the loss of differential factors and for other cases. However, together with tourism, it is the sector of our economy that continues to generate more dynamism and is the main reason for attracting tourists who visit us, still far from others such as nature, sport or culture . Therefore, we need to continue to develop instruments such as the trade plan, which is in the second phase, in collaboration with traders' associations, to improve the shopping experience and de-seasonalize the influx of shopping tourists, and to encourage the transformation of the commercial offer of the country.


Ladies and gentlemen,

With the aim of facilitating the relationship of citizens with the administrations and improving the efficiency of the process of collecting fees and taxes, we are not stopping the project of creating a single tax agency. It is planned that work with the commons will resume soon. It is a project, this one, which would not involve more fiscal pressure or more centralization in any case.

In fiscal matters, it should be remembered that from 2024 the latest tax reform will be applied and companies with profits will have to contribute a minimum of 3% through the effective rate of corporate tax.

Likewise, we will continue to work to reduce, diversify and make the State debt more sustainable, with the rigor and prudence with which public finances must be managed and as certified by the international rating agencies, which they highly value positively the growth of the economy after the COVID and in particular the level of indebtedness of the Government and the cost of the latter. During this legislature, there is no need to issue new public debt.

As you know, we are also working to present the projects related to the field of energy transition to obtain financing from the European Investment Bank. Andorra is the first country outside the European Union and the European Economic Area with access to financing mechanisms and also technical assistance.

At the international level, the International Monetary Fund will re-evaluate Andorra in the autumn as part of its normal process of evaluating all its members. The importance of the IMF is not only focused on the aspect of financing, but it also values a whole series of statistical aspects, of analysis and calculation of macroeconomic variables that are crucial But foreign investment is not the origin of all the evils and we must continue to be attractive, and you know as well as I do that these companies are not only looking for fiscal attractiveness and an agile and facilitating Administration, but they are also looking for good schools for their children, quality public services, political, institutional and financial stability, legal and public security, an urban and natural environment that is not damaged and a cohesive society. And all these elements, which are not few or minor, we have and we must maintain them, but we need more incentives to attract innovative and sustainable sectors, as is the case of Grífols, and to bring new things to the already existing sectors. For this reason, the Innovation Strategy, which will be coordinated with the different actors in the country and with Andorra Research and Innovation, will be accompanied by measures to support the productive fabric and entrepreneurs, such as the deployment of the Law on measures to to the self-employed, the support programs promoted by Andorra Business and which range from business growth to internationalization, through mentoring, digitization or the promotion of female entrepreneurship, or the creation of an ecosystem emerging companies.


Mr President,

I am sure I am leaving some questions in the ink, but I am convinced that we will have more time to discuss them extensively. However, I think the reading we should do is that despite the difficulties generated, particularly by the pandemic and also by the war in Ukraine, the country's companies and professionals continue to have the ability to generate wealth, create jobs and offer new opportunities. However, we cannot settle; we must continue to work on the basis of consensus and transversality, from the institutions and with economic and social agents, from collaboration and the search for synergies because you are ultimately the ones who embody the sensitivities of the economic fabric.


Thank you so much.

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