The BelCCI representative in Spain: "The task is to promote cooperation of Belarus and Spain"

№ 2, 2022


Mr. Figueras, how long have you been a representative of the BelCCI? What is your personal view of your tasks and goals in connection with this appointment? What are your activities to achieve them?

Not long ago – in 2020 – I received a coveted letter confirming my appointment as a representative of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Spain. Despite all the difficulties caused by the height of the pandemic, I could clearly see the potential in strengthening trade relations between Spain and ­Belarus. When instability was raging around the world, economic relations between our countries continued developing: in 2021, Belarus' exports to Spain totaled USD 25 million, and Spain's exports to Belarus totaled USD 114.92 million, according to the UN COMTRADE database of international trade.

As a BelCCI representative, I see my main objective in promoting and deepening bilateral trade relations, and I am ready to offer my expertise and contacts here in Spain to achieve it. But I would also like to point out that the establishment of economic relations involves both parties equally, depends on many factors and goes beyond the possibilities of particular persons or organizations, which makes the process itself a little longer than we would like it to be.

Could you please tell us how are you and your work related to Belarus?

While being a lawyer, I have always been interested in international trade, imports and exports. Therefore, in 2013, together with my partners, we opened a company specializing in trade between Europe and Asia. We can say that now this company serves as the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry representative's office in ­Barcelona.

Before the pandemic, we worked quite closely with the CIS countries and China, but significant import and export restrictions and an ever-changing environment have forced us to shift our focus a bit. We are still working in these regions, but not as actively as before. In December last year, we joined the Initiative for Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and we hope that through joint efforts of all participants we will be able to foster trade in the region and resume our active work.

Unfortunately, for the reasons mentioned above I have not been able to visit Belarus yet, but I hope that in the near future the situation will change for the better and I will be able to pay a visit to the country and negotiate with Belarusian businessmen at the BelCCI.


What kind of assistance could you offer the Belarusian and Spanish businessmen interested in partnerships development?

Last November, we held a joint online seminar with the BelCCI on how to trade in the Spanish market. At the seminar, I presented to the heads of Belarusian enterprises the main trends of the Spanish market, possible ave­nues for entering this market, ­promising niches for Belarusian exporters, the factors that are necessary to take into account when promoting products, the peculiarities of e-commerce development in Spain, the marketing strategies of local companies, the existing problems faced by foreign business, as well as the main mistakes when entering the Spanish market. On the whole, the seminar turned out to be popular; the number of participants exceeded our expectations. This illustrates that Belarusian companies find the Spanish market attractive and they are ready to expand the geography of their activities, but they do not know exactly how to do it. In fact, that's my job – to help such companies.


As for the Spanish entrepreneurs, we received many calls last summer from the companies, mainly meat producers, interested in the Belarusian market. However, due to recent political movements, this interest still remains unrealized, unfortunately.

What fields do you find the most promising for the further expansion of your country's businesses' co­operation with Belarus?

We are well aware of the Belarusian IT sector, which not so long ago was in the forefront of IT services out­sourcing, mobile products and social media development. In my opinion, this is the most promising sector, and it was demonstrated when ­quarantine was ­introduced in many countries – all spheres of life, including business, moved digital. Today's ­situation in ­Russia also shows that certain social platforms, such as YouTube or Instagram, for instance, are crucial and are an integral component of modern people's lives. ­Abandoning them is tantamount to social self-isolation.

Belarus has a well-developed light industrial sector, in particular the ­fashion industry, as well as cattle breeding, construction and building materials production. All these spheres also have potential in Spain. One of the most well-known Spanish holdings, Inditex, which manufactures clothing, actively uses such traditional for Belarusian market materials as linen and cotton in its production.


Are there any activities planned for the near future to advance bilateral business contacts? How has the pandemic and other recent challenges affected business interaction?

We had an event planned for May this year on how to enter the Belarusian market, where we wanted to bring together representatives from both the Spanish and Belarusian business communities. At the moment, it is difficult to plan anything – the situation remains tense, so we only have to wait for a more opportune moment. Meanwhile, we are holding meetings with representatives of other chambers of commerce and industry, discuss cooperation opportunities and promote Belarusian businesses. For instance, we met with our partners from the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and ­Industry a few days ago, and they were very interested in the Belarusian market.

Thus, we are offering all the information available to us to promote the interests of Belarus in other countries.

What guidelines would you, first of all, give to the Belarusian companies wishing to do business in your country, and vice versa?

To establish partnership, it is important to understand the specifics of each market and its business culture. For example, in Spain a lot is decided not at the negotiating table, but in an informal setting, in a restaurant over a meal. If I understand correctly, there is a similar situation in Belarus, but it has more to do with social interaction.

In general, active communication is important for the Spaniards, whereas the Belarusians prefer the negotiations to be more concrete. Besides, I would say that language skills are the key to success, as it is impossible to reach an agreement without it.

Therefore, the best advice I can give is to seek help from professionals: the companies specializing in international business ties promotion, such as chambers of commerce and industry.