Carmen González Enríquez
Director of the Spain’s Image Monitor of Elcano Royal Institute
The economic crisis has taken its toll on Spain’s international image, which is now starting to recover. The country’s prestige was in a very high place, when the international press frequently talked about the “Spanish miracle” during the first five years of the 21st century, when the Spanish GDP grew at a much higher rate than that of the rest of the European Union. However, the crisis, the unemployment, the cutbacks in public expenditure, the increase of the risk premium and the apparent imminence in 2012 of a bailout “in the Greek style” destroyed the country’s image. Since the end of 2012, which marks the lowest point of Spain’s prestige, its image has been recovering, as the successive waves of Spain’s Image Barometer (BIE in its Spanish acronym), carried out by Elcano Royal Institute, show.
In this evolution, the economic results and the reliability of the national institutions managing the economy are decisive elements, in such a way that the evolution of the prestige is parallel to that of the risk premium. Spain has seen its fall in the international prestige scale stop and start improving throughout 2013 and 2014 while going out of the financial risk area, an improvement confirmed not only by the last Spain’s Image Barometer (5th wave) but also by the international survey on international reputation, the Country Rep.Track, carried out by the Reputation Institute in collaboration with Elcano Royal Institute.
Spain is the second best valued country by Germans, above France and the United Kingdom
At the moment, international prospects for the evolution of the Spanish economy in the future have clearly improved: If in March 2013, in the 3th wave of the BIE, only one out of every ten people polled believed that the Spanish economy would improve in the following months, in December 2013 (4th wave), optimists were 36%, and, now (5th wave of the BIE, January 2015), that group has increased by 42%. Spain’s assessment as a country to invest or to go as a tourist has also improved slightly but significantly, something confirmed by the increase of direct foreign investment in the country in 2014 and by the record broken that year with the arrival of tourists.
The German opinion about our country is especially relevant for Spain: in a scale from 0 to 10, Germans grant themselves the highest rating, 8.4, but the second country they value best is Spain, with a 6.9, above France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and distant from Greece. In this assessment, the opinion about the reforms started in our country, presented in Germany as an example to follow by the economies of the South, has much weight.
Still in the economic field, note the positive assessment in all the countries of the sample (France, United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Algeria and Morocco) of the Spanish companies located at their territories, which is remarkable, with more than 7 points in the 0-10 scale, in Latin America and the Maghreb. Good news is also that Spanish olive oil and wine receive the same purchase intention as Italian oil or French wine (except in France in the case of wine), or that only British prefer buying a pair of jeans made in the United Kingdom than one made in Spain. However, the deficit in the Spanish technological image is valued in the preference of all countries for a German refrigerator instead of a Spanish one. In that field, Spain has an unresolved matter.