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The New World: From Old Roots to New Opportunities

Spanish Architectural, Engineering and Construction Firm Presence in The Americas

Latin America seems to be the natural place for Spanish companies in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) to seek opportunities to escape the European crisis. However, the presence of Spanish companies in the Americas is not new.

Out of all the Spanish companies with offices in the Americas, Chile hosts the most companies in Latin America (54%), followed by Peru (46%), Mexico (43%), and Brazil (32%). Yet, the presence of Spanish companies in the United States is by far the greatest (82%) within the Americas. Canada hosts 18% of the Spanish companies (AboutAEC Database, 2012).

Spanish AEC companies have a different geographic distribution than United States AEC companies, which are principally hosted in Canada (67%), Mexico (31%), and Brazil (26%).

Spanish AEC companies with presence in the Americas are principally focused on transportation (highways and roads, rails, and ports), and water and wastewater markets. Operations and management are the most common services offered by these companies (AboutAEC Database, 2012).

Until a couple of years ago the Spanish companies that came to the Americas were multinationals, but in the last year medium-size companies and some small companies have begun to arrive (AboutAEC, 2012).

Highways and Roads is the main market supported by Spanish companies with offices in Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Brazil (countries with the highest Spanish presence in Latin America). Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how the renewable energy (wind and solar) market has been rising in importance over the last two years for Spanish companies with offices in the Americas (AboutAEC Database, 2012).

Although Chile and Mexico expect moderate economic growth in 2012 (4% and 4.9% respectively), their index of construction activity as published by Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean (ECLAC) has remained solid in the last year. Chile continues its post-earthquake reconstruction works. Initiatives for water resource utilization have risen 8%. The budget for port improvement projects has grown 9.3% (Chilean budget, 2012).

Peru has a revitalized construction sector which is reflected in an increase of over 300% in the last quarter in its ECLAC construction activity index and which is supported by its recent policies to rebuild its infrastructure in the short and long term (ECLAC’s Macroeconomic Report on Latin America and the Caribbean, June 2012).

Brazil is a giant that beyond the challenge of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics knows that it must invest at least 4% of its gross domestic product in infrastructure during the next 20 years to reach Chile (Morgan Stanley, 2010). Its vast oil and renewable reserves may only be exploited efficiently if it has the appropriate infrastructure. Brazil expects to invest 900 billion dollars between 2011 and 2014 on energy, urban infrastructure, water and transportation according to its strategic investment plan.

Maybe Brazil does not have the advantage of the Spanish language for Spanish companies, but Spanish companies have shown that they know how to do very well in markets that do not speak their language. Their success in the United States is the perfect example of this.

In conclusion, Spain is perhaps taking advantage of these circumstances to gain a stronger foothold in the market of the Americas. It is not a newcomer and its companies are well prepared to meet present and future challenges.

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