Polyglot Group has been doing business with international & multicultural companies based in more than 50 countries all around the world for over 20 years.
In celebration of these partnerships, we will be promoting bilateral trades by interviewing some of the key players. Keen to know more about the current challenges faced by the countries we are representing such as Latin America, Europe, Asia & the US, we are thrilled to share our interview with Gemma Puig, the Executive Director for The Catalonia Trade and Investment Office (ACCIO) in Sydney.
Could you please introduce yourself and your organisation?
Operating in Australia since 1990, The Catalonia Trade and Investment Office (ACCIO) promotes business opportunities between companies from Catalonia and worldwide. Our aim is to develop joint projects to promote Catalan companies globally, and, at the same time, attract investment from other countries to Barcelona.
Globally we have 39 Catalonia Trade and Investment Offices around the world and we are attached to the Cataalonian Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
Based in Sydney, ACCIO works to promote bilateral trade opportunities between Australia and Catalonia. To deliver on this purpose, ACCIO fosters networking and collaboration with contacts in Australia. Our service ranges from helping businesses find a distribution network in Australia, to providing information about the current Australian market.
What type of services can you offer to Australian companies looking for new business opportunities in Catalonia?
We offer a great deal of services in this regard, as one of our primary purposes is to encourage companies to look to Catalonia and Barcelona as a place of investment. As such, we offer financing and incentives, as well as knowledge-based support. ACCIO provides local expertise in setting up a business, as well as help in understanding taxes, regulations & other legal requirements. ACCIO also assists businesses in finding industrial or tech businesses partners or suppliers in Catalonia.
Are you subsidised by Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya) or is it membership based? How many members do you have?
We are a Not for Profit organisation. Our services for Australian companies are subsided by the Government of Catalonia, allowing us to offer free services for companies interested in investing in Catalonia.
How many Australian companies are operating in Catalonia?
At present, we have approximately 30 companies operating in Catalonia including, Hotels Combined, Nufarm, Vitality 4 Life, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and The Polyglot Group.
What are the organisation’s main accomplishments since you took office?
One of our proudest achievements is that the Sydney office achieved the ranking of best office in customer service. Our clients gave us a 9.3 out of 10; the highest of all the 39 offices globally.
How do you perceive the Australasian region in regard to market trends and opportunity?
Australia has 26 years of consecutive annual economic growth. As such, it provides a safe, low-risk environment in which to do business. Rated AAA by all three global rating agencies, Australia is forecast to reach average annual real GDP growth of 2.9% over the next 5 years – the highest among major advanced economies.
Doing business in Australia is straightforward when its rules and regulations are adhered to. Australia has a transparent and well-managed administration, making it a safe place to do business.
“Australia is forecast to reach average
annual real GDP growth of 2.9% over the
next 5 years– the highest among major
Having said that, the size of the market is not very big. The small national population of 24 million, coupled with a large geographical distance from Barcelona could be seen as a potential obstacle to doing business here. We have minimised this inconvenience by establishing an office here in Australia where we can work for the Catalan company whilst being in their target market.
What about Catalonia’s business culture— are there any similarities to the Australian one?
In my opinion, Catalan people are very serious and professional when doing business. They respect the agreements, are true to their word, and deliver on time. I think both cultures share the same drive and honesty.
Catalonia offers Australian companies a door to European markets within a good business environment. Barcelona offers a pleasurable environment to do business, with a high quality of life, good public services and transport, as well as a high level of educational facilities. As such, Barcelona is home to several experts across industries such as IT, design, health, engineering & architecture.
In which industries of Catalonia do you see opportunities for Australian companies?
I see great opportunities in mobile technologies, as Barcelona is the capital of the Mobile World Congress every year. In addition, Australian companies can find opportunities in Design, Medical Technologies, Pharmaceuticals, Tourism, Hospitality, Advanced Manufacturing and the Automotive industry.
From your experience, what are the typical steps that companies undertake when expanding or investing in Australia?
At large, the Australian people place great importance upon maintaining relationships through consistent contact. As such, it is very important for Catalonian companies to keep in touch with their importer in Australia, and guide the product’s integration into the market by providing training about the product or service. At times, Catalan companies can overlook the importance of maintaining the relationships within their Australian network. So, while their relationships start very strong, a lack of long-term communication with the Australian partner often means that the relationship ceases to continue.
Establishing connections with an importer or a distributor is a good way to start doing business in this market with an Australian partner. But over time, the challenge becomes opening a branch and operating directly in the market, without intermediaries. This is the ultimate goal for most of 800 Catalan companies that are now doing business in Australia.
In creating our Bilateral Trades Down Under Series, we would like to thank Gemma Puig for taking the time to provide such an insightful interview.