Concordia and the American Chamber of Commerce in Spain (AmChamSpain) have recently launched a unique partnership. At its core lies the Concordia Europe – AmChamSpain Summit, an international convening taking place in Madrid on June 26, 2019 that will foster action-oriented discussion around issues spanning today’s technological revolution to the intricate relationship between Spain, the U.S., and Latin America. We ask Matthew Swift, Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO of Concordia, and Jaime Malet, Chairman of AmChamSpain, about the partnership’s origins and what to expect from the Summit.
Concordia shares AmChamSpain’s fundamental commitments to open trade, dialogue, and expanded business opportunities. We both believe that through these commitments we can make countries, communities, and businesses better places to be and better partners for solving global and regional challenges. We are both committed to linking the public and private sectors, and to creating networks of problem solvers around the world.
The benefit of working with Concordia comes from their expertise in social impact projects, particularly through public-private partnerships. By leveraging the skills and techniques of the private sector with the funding and legitimacy of government institutions, public-private partnerships are an innovative way to address ever-changing problems in an increasingly-interconnected world.
AmChamSpain brings over 100 years of transatlantic experience to the table, with a huge network of private and public actors. Our expertise in improving economic stability, productivity, and competitiveness in the U.S. and Spanish economies, as well as our membership in the global AmCham network, allows us to connect positive agents for change with the tools they need to be successful.
Together, AmChamSpain and Concordia can tap into a large network of eager and active economic partners to support the world we live in, either through economic development, digital adaptation, improved international relations, or innovative private-public engagements.
Concordia has grown at a remarkable rate over the past eight years, and what’s important is that this growth has been organic and driven from the ground up. This development is most evident in our signature gathering—the Concordia Annual Summit—which is today the largest and most inclusive convening platform alongside the UN General Assembly.
Over the last few years we’ve increasingly built out our regional efforts, in particular our Americas Initiative, which is the culmination of extensive on-the-ground work in Colombia. In fact, we recently held our fourth Americas Summit in Bogotá, Colombia, which explored critical issues facing the Western Hemisphere, witnessed the signing of a multilateral agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, and announced cross-sector partnerships to drive meaningful social impact.
Europe remains another regional focal point of Concordia’s. In 2017 we hosted our inaugural Europe Summit in Athens, Greece, taking place at a pivotal time for the continent following significant shifts in regional leadership. Topics included the role of partnerships in preserving a modern-day union, quelling the refugee crisis, and reigniting regional economic growth. By convening regional leadership to address these challenges and formulate practical solutions, we were proud to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and the establishment of new relationships across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
I’m immensely excited about our collaboration with AmChamSpain, which will see us host our first dedicated event on on Spanish soil. In many ways, this convening serves as a continuation of some of the issue areas and outcomes from our 2017 Europe Summit, but with more of a focus on the role of the international business community. We’re gathering in Madrid at a really interesting time for the continent, following both the Spanish and European Parliament elections. Europe is entering unprecedented territory, both in terms of the political environment and the potential for innovation, technology, and business. Against this backdrop, the environment is ripe for action-oriented discussion, and I’m excited to see how these conversations will shape the outlook for the continent.
The main issues facing Europe in general are obstacles to the integrated democratic project that is the European Union. The EU was designed with interconnectedness, openness, and trade as its cornerstones. Without a framework that enables Europeans to work together, all of the constituent parts find difficulties in moving forward and adapting quickly to change. As an organization that represents Spanish and American business interests, AmChamSpain recognizes the benefits that the European Union provides in enabling freer and cheaper trade than ever before.
In terms of Spain, our main challenge is making the country more navigable for business and investment. This means that tax codes need to be clarified, regulations that may cause barriers to entry need to be re-examined, and certain economic indicators, like youth unemployment and education, need to be rectified. We need governmental transparency and responsible government allocation of resources so that businesses and communities can flourish without being overburdened by uncertainty.
Without a doubt, the world is becoming smaller and smaller. International trade is not the same as it used to be, mainly because businesses and governments have access to tools like the internet. It is not that we need to break down barriers, it’s that we need to recognize and accept that the barriers have been broken down. Especially in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must recognize how interconnected the world has become, with social media, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence pervading every industry. Many of the companies that AmChamSpain represents no longer focus on only one sector, either because they run digital platforms where everything is sold, or provide services that are used in a range of sectors, from financial to medical to education, or because they are integrated internationally with diverse global partners providing different links in the supply chain.
This barrier breakdown is particularly important for our partnership with Concordia. As businesses move into social impact and responsible investments, the focus is shifting to emerging markets, economic development models, and cultural appreciation. In many of these cases, one business’ success depends on an entire business community to thrive. So even if AmChamSpain companies still focus on single sectors, it is in their interest to understand what is happening in other sectors, with the government, and in international markets.
As Jaime says, it takes participation from a multitude of sectors to address the issues we’re facing across the globe—whether that be the evolution of employment or the global healthcare crisis. Cross-sector collaboration provides us with an arsenal of diverse perspectives, experiences, communities, and resources that we can use to form relevant conversations and make tangible progress. By working across sectors and industries, you frame a challenge differently, and that process lends itself to coming up with new, innovative solutions.
So, the Concordia Europe – AmChamSpain Summit will serve as the first stage in the partnership-building process. It will spark conversation and raise awareness about an idea and the impact that can come out of that. By including the right people at the table, we will explore how policy (public or policy) can be shaped, and create solutions that can go on to stand the test of time. This is the first—and, in many ways, the most important—layer.
We’ll be joined by a diverse line-up of world-renowned political leaders, business innovators, and global non-governmental representatives who will share their insight into the issues facing both Spain and Europe more widely. I’m particularly excited to bring Concordia’s extensive Latin American network to Madrid, where we will hear from Former President Quiroga of Bolivia, Former President Uribe of Colombia, and Former President Lacalle of Uruguay among others. I also look forward to leveraging the perspectives of our many Concordia Members, leading experts at the intersection of the public, private, and nonprofit arenas.
To attend the Concordia Europe – AmChamSpain Summit, click here
About AmChamSpain: The American Chamber of Commerce in Spain (AmChamSpain) is part of the AmCham network distributed in 108 countries, which in turn is part of the US Chamber of Commerce. AmChamSpain is an apolitical and non-profit institution created in 1917, which has about 300 associated companies, among them, the majority of large American companies established in Spain and large Spanish companies with presence in the US, as well as a significant group of SMEs from both countries. As a member-based organization, the Chamber organizes regular encounters with world leaders, businessmen and politicians as part of its ongoing commitment to serving some of America’s largest companies.