Jaume Gaytán / Andorran Ambassador
Alberto Rubio. Madrid
Tourism and trade make up more than half the Andorran GDP. A goodly part, although to a lesser extent, comes from a financial sector that has been compromised by the Banca Privada de Andorra (BPA) scandal. The Ambassador, Jaume Gaytán pointed out that, nevertheless, “we are already recovering confidence because, with the rapid intervention of the bank, the problem was contained and did not spread out to affect the rest of the entities.”
The BPA case was a blow?
At the time, it had a big impact outside Andorra, in Spain above all. But in record time, a law on resolution of financial entities was created, based on a European Directive which, in fact, was first applied in Andorra. This reaction was highly regarded by the international community.
The owners feel that the Government overreacted.
It is essential to prevent the risk of a single bank affecting not only the system but, employees, clients, companies… There was no alternative.
We will see when the legal processes end but, at the moment, the Andorra Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have not yet ruled in their favour.
When will the bank be sold?
We are waiting to receive information from a very meticulous audit with the idea of selling the healthy part, after creating a “bad bank”.
And then the “Pujol Case” broke?.
With the “Pujol case”, which bore no relation to that of the BPA, we received a great deal of notoriety in the media when, in fact, there were good things that were not spoken about; fiscal reform, double taxation treaties… The media prefers to query if legal cooperation with Spain is good, which it is. And very good. .. .
Do Spaniards have the wrong impression of Andorra?
At times. During the Catalonian election campaign, I heard talk in which they compared us to pirates or traffickers. But those who visit Andorra take away a very different impression, including one of our peculiarities, such as having two co-princes.
And, do they visit Andorra?
All the presidents of the French Republic make an official visit to Andorra at least once during their term of office. The Bishop of Urgel, comes more often, as it is closer, and he has a twofold function, institutional and pastoral.
“Andorra views the Catalan separatist movement with concern”
Would your model work for Gibraltar?
Our model has been implemented by many. Gibraltar, Kashmir, Palestine… Andorra emerged from a peace treaty in 1278. And that system, with a few changes, works well. It depends on the circumstances of each country.
How does Andorra view the Catalan separatist movement?
With concern. We share a language, a culture with Catalonia and we have a significant Catalan community. We wish to have prosperous and stable neighbours. But in a short time Catalonia has had many electoral campaigns and it does not give one the sensation of stability or prosperity. However, this is an internal Spanish issue and we should not be proffering opinions on it.
Could it affect the Andorran economy?
If it affects Catalonia, it affects us.
Does your economy have an excessive dependency on tourism and trade?
Yes. The tourists who visit Andorra are mainly Spanish. And if Spain is affected by a crisis, so is Andorra. Therefore, we must diversify our economy, opening up the country to foreign investors who should be able to hold100% in an Andorran company, and promoting sectors such as the new technologies, health or quality postgraduate studies.
Is there a case for innovation in your tourism industry?
It is always essential to innovate. At the present time we have two tourism “peaks”, one in winter and one in summer and our challenge is to promote other activities in spring and autumn such as the Shopping Festival or the enormous potential of trekking and cyclotourism.
Could the Urgel Airport assist with these plans?
Of course. It would put us on the map of the scheduled airline companies. And this is our objective: But at the moment, it is operating with small companies and charter flights.
What is the objective of the Partnership Agreement being negotiated with the EU?
We are looking for a similar status to Liechtenstein within the Schengen Area. This would enable the free movement of people, capital services and good . The application of European directives would also be very much better although we do already have much Community legislation adapted for use in the financial sector, and even an agreement to use the euro which is our official currency.
When would you join Schengen?
Being optimistic, in a couple of years perhaps. It is a joint process, with San Marino and Monaco. We shall see if, in the end, there is one agreement or three separate agreements.